Fun Facts about Bahrain

Since Bahrain is in the news this week, I’ve been reading up a bit about this small Gulf island kingdom. Don’t have much intelligent to say, so here are a few facts:

  • Bahrain is not a big place. We’re talking about 1.2 million people, which is roughly the population of San Francisco and Oakland put together. Given that, a protest of about ten thousand people is far from trivial.
  • Like Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Bahrain is a majority (~66%) Shia Islam population governed by a Sunni autocracy. I hadn’t realized that Shia were this populous so far south in the Gulf,  but it makes sense (next door in Qatar, however, Shia are only 30% of the population).  And the Khobar Towers truck bombing in 1996 in neighboring Dhahran, Saudi Arabia was initially blamed by the Saudis on Shia Saudi separatists, though that may have been more of an ass-covering maneuver than an honest reflection of internal conflict in Saudi Arabia. Bottom line, Iraq is not the only Gulf state with these kinds of sectarian cleavages.
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