DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Bahrain's Pearl roundabout, the focal point of the island kingdom's 2011 Arab Spring protests, has reopened to traffic after being guarded by security forces for years.
The reopening of the roundabout Tuesday night, now called Al-Farooq Junction by authorities, comes as Bahrain has been engaged in a yearlong crackdown on dissent.
In the 2011 protests, the island's Shiite majority and others demanded more political freedoms from the island's Sunni rulers. Bahrain security forces, backed by Saudi and Emirati troops, later put down the protests and the square was cordoned off for years.
Independent news gathering in Bahrain has grown more difficult, with the government refusing to accredit two Associated Press journalists and others .
Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet and an under-construction British naval base.