Records of Bahrain 1966–1971

ISBN:  (13) 978-1-84097-170-5    Extent:    6 volumes, 4,876 pages

Editor:  A. Burdett   Published: 2006
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
See sample pages: not available


In these 5000 pages Archive Editions presents a comprehensive collection of original British government documents detailing the history of Bahrain between 1966 and 1971. Also published are two collections running from 1820 up to 1960 and 1961 to 1965.
The years 1966-71 are of particular interest to researchers because of the intense political and diplomatic activity engendered by the announcement of the British, in 1968, of their intention to withdraw from the Gulf States by 1971. The British records are of particular interest too because the British were in the unique position of being at the heart of government in the Gulf states. They administered Bahrain’s foreign and defence affairs through treaty relations from as early as 1820 and despite a convention acknowledging the independence of Bahrain agreed in 1913, right up to the British withdrawal in 1971.


From the Introduction by A. Burdett
 “The period under review, 1966-71, reflects the end of an era in Bahrain’s historic relationship with Great Britain and the emergence of an independent, sovereign state. Important themes are the re-organisation of internal government, the resolution of the Iranian claim to Bahrain, involvement in Gulf unity plans and the decision to withdraw from the proposed union, paving the way for independence in 1971.
Bahrain participated initially in unity talks with other Gulf States, encouraged by the British, to formulate a working confederation. A major obstacle to Bahraini membership and independence (whether legitimate or not) was the on-going Iranian claim that Bahrain was part of Iranian territory. However, following a modification in the Iranian position, an “Ascertainment Exercise” was painstakingly negotiated between the two countries and undertaken in 1970 by Signor Winspeare Guiccaiardi, under United Nations aegis, to determine if any legitimate support for Bahrain’s connection to Iran was evident. Concluding that there was no local support for this, the Iranian claim was formally dropped. Bahrain then decided it did not require the security of membership of any Gulf Union, and opted for complete independence on 15 August 1971, thereby ending 150 years of special treaty relations with Great Britain, during which period Britain had been responsible for Bahrain’s foreign relations and defence, as well as placing its relations with other Gulf States on a different footing.
Concomitant with the planned British withdrawal from Aden, first announced in 1966, were plans for improved local defence, major physical and administrative alterations to the airport, new membership of international organisations, and renewed attempts to resolve regional boundary disputes.”


Understanding the Series
The three sections of the Records of Bahrain Series combine to create a large collection which offers historical evidence for the political, economic and social evolution of Bahrain. Such evidence improves our understanding of the modern political position of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. This large body of documents includes, for example, examination of frontier negotiations and questions of sovereignty, particularly the claim to Bahrain by Iran and the long-running dispute with Qatar; it also provides details of constitutional, military and defence developments.


Material has been arranged within each volume according to broad subjects including internal political affairs, social and economic development, regional and international relations. Within these general divisions documents are presented chronologically. Some highlights from the volumes include:

Volume 1 : 1966 

  • Appointment of Shaikh Mohammed as Head of Police and Public Security and Judge at the High Court of Appeal
  • Dissident activities present a growing threat to the régime
  • British urge internal administrative reforms to allay vigorous criticisms of the Bahrain government, particularly from the UAR
  • Efforts to solve the longstanding territorial sea-bed dispute with Qatar, over which a series of bilateral meetings was held
  • A review of the Iranian claim to Bahrain was prepared
  • Bahrain Petroleum Company agrees the principle of Royalty Expensing
Volume 2 : 1967–1968 
  • Sudden withdrawal of Britain from Aden in 1967 causes fears for the cessation of British aid for development projects
  • Continuing criticism mounted from various internal groups including the “National Front”
  • General review of the Ruling Family and an assessment of internal government reforms prepared by British officials
  • Effects of the Arab defeat in the Six-Day War result in demonstrations and internal unrest, in the form of protests directed against the (perceived) British policy
  • Continued Median Line dispute with Qatar, involving several meetings with Qatari representatives, and an assessment by the Admiralty Hydrographer as to its delineation
  • Iranian claim to Bahrain affects Bahrain’s applications to join bodies such as UNESCO and WHO
Volume 3 : 1968
  • The announcement on 4 January 1968 of the British military withdrawal from the Gulf, irrevocably alters the political and power relationships between Bahrain and the United Kingdom
  • Shaikh Isa makes a private visit to Britain for defence talks, and to discuss the means to proceed with Bahrain airport development
  • Shaikh Isa makes a visit to the USA in the search for alternative international partners
  • Internal government reforms preoccupy both the Bahrain government and British officials
  • Some violent demonstrations leads to plans for improved security, and the National Guard was launched
  • Meetings concerning the union dominate, and Bahrain agrees in principle regarding its formation
  • Territorial disputes continue, notably with Qatar over the Hawar Islands
  • The Iranians call for a plebiscite to determine the strength of the attachment of the Bahraini populace to Iran
  • A preliminary study for a Bahrain–Saudi Arabia Causeway project is made

Volume 4 : 1969

  • Shaikh Isa visits both the USA and the UK
  • Possibility of administrative reform
  • Reaction to the British withdrawal
  • Assessment of threats and disturbances to the régime; and the dilemma of any use of British troops for Bahrain defence
  • Regarding the Iranian claim secret talks are held between Bahraini and Iranian delegations firstly in Geneva, then in Montreux, and the idea of involving the UN emerges
  • Protection of Bahrain airport from subversives, training and equipping of defence forces, and their command by Shaikh Hamad
  • Development of civil aviation and the airport
Volume 5 : 1970 
  • Effect of Bahrain opting out of the unification plans, particularly relations with Dubai
  • Agreement to a procedure for solving the Iran–Bahrain issue through the UN: Bahrain proceeds as a sovereign state
  • Relations with Iran immediately improve and impact on issues such as the Median Line dispute with Iran
  • Britain continues to oversee development projects
Volume 6 : 1971 
  • Cancellation of the special treaty relations with Britain, and announcement of Independence, made on 15 August 1971
  • Planning and preparation for this transition
  • Some unrest and dissident activity, with Sunni–Shiah issues emerging
  • Bahrain’s withdrawal from Union plans affects relations with Saudi Arabia (King Feisal is very pro-Union)
  • Relations with Iran improve
  • New oil concessions are arranged, but unresolved boundary disputes continue to be a factor, especially in offshore agreements


Arab Gulf Cities
Arabian Boundaries 1853–1960
Arabian Boundaries 1961–1965
Arabian Treaties 1600–1960
Bahrain Government Annual Reports 1924–1970
British Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction in the Gulf 1913–1971
Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East 1535–1956
Documentary Studies in Arabian Geopolitics: Iran in the Persian Gulf 1820–1966
Foreign Office Annual Reports from Arabia 1930–1960
Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia
GCC States: National Development Records: Civil Aviation 1920–1962, The
GCC States: National Development Records: Communications & Transport 1860–1960, The
GCC States: National Development Records: Defence in the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia 1920–1960, The
Historic Maps of Bahrain 1817–1970
Islands and Maritime Boundaries of the Gulf 1798–1960
Oil Concessions in Five Arab States 1911–1953: Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Trucial States and Oman
OPEC: Origins and Strategy 1947–1973
Persian Gulf Administration Reports 1873–1957
Persian Gulf and Red Sea Naval Reports 1820–1960
Persian Gulf Gazette and Supplements 1953–1972
Persian Gulf Historical Summaries 1907–1953, The
Persian Gulf Pilot 1864–1932, The
Persian Gulf Précis, The
Persian Gulf Trade Reports 1905–1940, The
Political Diaries of the Arab World: Persian Gulf 1904–1965
Records of Bahrain 1820–1960
Records of Bahrain 1961–1965
Records of Qatar 1820–1960
Records of Qatar 1961-1965
Records of Qatar 1966–1971
Ruling Families of Arabia: Documentary Records of the Dynasties of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman
Slave Trade Into Arabia 1820–1973, The
Water Resources in the Arabian Peninsula 1921–1960