Bahrain has a protest movement that is simmering to this day. Bahrain is an archipelago connected to Saudi Arabia by a causeway that stretches across the Gulf of Bahrain. The Bahraini economy was originally based on oil exportation, but it has since become a major oil refiner and “international banking center.”
Bahrain’s population of 1.2 million people has a majority of Shia Muslims, although the ruling regime is Sunni. This has been the major crux of protests thus far throughout the Arab Spring. Although Bahrain has a very diversified economy, they still depend on oil refining for 11% of its GDP. Unemployment in Bahrain is 15% as of 2005, according to the CIA World Factbook, and throughout the protest there were allegations of the Sunni regime filling its security forces with other Sunnis from other countries. Many have asserted that this was a concerted effort by the regime to undermine the Shia majority in the country.
Bahrain spends 4.5% of its GDP on military expenditure and is home to the United States Fifth Navy Fleet. Tied to Bahrain by a causeway, Saudi Arabia sent troops to help the Sunni regime quell the protests. Saudi Arabia has many Shia enclaves on the outskirts of its borders and worries that the protests in Bahrain may spill over to these communities.