Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifah
Short: Isa 2
Arabic: ¢īsā bni salmān āl khalīfa
(1933-1999) Ruler of Bahrain 1961-1999, 38 years, with the title hakim until independence 1971, since then with the title emir.
Photo: Helene C. Stikkel.
Although introducing the framework of democracy right after independence, this happened largely from pressure. Once establishing his position, he dissolved the parliament and suspended the constitution. His reign was one of tense relations with certain groups in the opposition, mainly Socialists and Shi'i Muslim radicals. Himself a Sunni Muslim in a nation with a Shi'i majority, his regime faced many challenges, especially after the Iranian revolution. During the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) he sided with Iraq.
His main efforts was to establish Bahrain as a successful modern economy, a financial centre and one of the least conservative societies in the Persian Gulf. The one single project he took most pride in completing as the causeway to Saudi Arabia. Throughout his reign he maintained good relations with Western powers, making Bahrain one of the key allies of the USA in the Middle East.
1933 June 3: Born in Jasra as grandson of the ruler of Bahrain, Hamad 1. His father, Salman 2 became ruler in 1942.
1958: Named heir to the Bahraini throne.
1961: His father dies, he becomes new shaykh of Bahrain.
1970 January: Appoints a 12-member Council of State.
1971 August 15: Bahrain gains its independence, Isa assumes the title emir. Initially aiming at becoming part of the United Arab Emirates, Isa decides not to join following a disagreement over the federation's constitution.
1973: A constitution is established, and Bahraini men given the right to vote in general elections for a National Assembly.
1975 August: Dissolves the parliament as it refuses to pass the State Security Law and suspends the constitution.
1979: Following the Iranian Revolution, religious-political forces make demands that Bahrain follows and be declared an Islamic state. Isa rejects, crushing the opposition.
1981: Makes Bahrain join the Gulf Cooperation Council.
1982: Stops an a planned coup, having 60 activists close to Iran arrested.
1986 December: The causeway to Saudi Arabia opens.
1993: Demands for reform grows stronger and Isa has a 30-member advisory council appointed. However, he alone appoints its members.
1999 March 6: Dies suddenly, and is succeeded by his son, Hamad as ruler.