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Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman deceives with dialogue, guns young men down in Streets

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Time running out as Bahrain tries to revive national dialogue
By Bill Law – BBC News – 29 January, 2014

Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa shows the UK’s Prince Andrew round the Bahrain International Airshow (16 January 2014) The meeting between Prince Salman (centre) and the opposition came a day before a visit by Prince Andrew

A recent meeting between Bahrain’s crown prince and opposition representatives has raised hopes that the suspended national dialogue process could be revived. The BBC’s Bill Law looks at the prospects for ending the deadlock in the Gulf island kingdom.

Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s decision to hold talks on 15 January with leaders of the five main opposition groupings for the first time since pro-democracy protests erupted three years ago surprised many observers.

Afterwards, the main Shia opposition bloc, al-Wefaq, said the meeting had been “especially frank and very transparent” and studied ways to have a “serious dialogue that would result in a new political framework that shapes a comprehensive solution”.

The government meanwhile said the parties had committed to “accelerate dialogue and elevate discussion by including more senior representatives from all parties”.

The meeting was notable for at least two reasons.

The first was the prominent role of the crown prince.

Seen as a moderate in the Sunni ruling family, the Al Khalifa, he has effectively been sidelined since 2011 by hardliners who want few if any concessions to be made to the Shia majority demanding greater rights and an end to discrimination.

The second reason was the presence at Prince Salman’s side of one of those hardliners – the Minister for the Royal Court, Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed bin Salman Al Khalifa.

The hardliners have been accused of trying to undermine the national dialogue, so it was surprising to see Sheikh Khaled at a meeting to revive the process only days after the government had suspended it, blaming the opposition for the breakdown.
‘Deep-rooted issues’

A source told the BBC that after halting the dialogue, the Khalifas had come under “intense” pressure from Western allies to get it back on track.

“The royal family needed to show the UK and US that it was doing something.”

However, the source said the opposition’s meeting with the crown prince had been merely a “branding exercise”, adding: “The hardliners are simply playing for time.”

Not long after the talks, the UK government published its response to a critical report by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

MPs had criticised what they described as the failure of Bahrain to “quickly implement the important and practical recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry”, a review commissioned by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in 2011 that delivered a searing indictment of his government and its handling of the protest movement. …more

February 2, 2014   No Comments

Al-Khalifa talks are “Propaganda” – The Penny Drops for National Democratic Action Society

Bahraini Opposition Figure Describes Al-Khalifa Talks Offer as “Propaganda”
19 February, 2013 – FARS

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Bahraini opposition figure dismissed the Al-Khalifa regime’s offer of talks with the country’s dissidents as a propaganda campaign to fix its unpopular image.

“By holding fruitless talks, the Al-Khalifa regime wants to pretend that it is negotiating with the opposition, while continued crackdowns and killings of the people indicates the unpopular nature of this regime,” Deputy Secretary-General of Bahrain’s National Democratic Action Society Hassan Al-Marzooq told the Arabic-language Al-Alam TV channel on Tuesday.

He further viewed the Bahraini rulers’ offer of talks as nothing more than a trick, implying that the Manama regime wants to fix its image among the public and meantime buy time to continue its crimes and suppressions.

Earlier this month, another senior Bahraini opposition figure also dismissed talks between the al-Khalifa regime and the country’s dissidents as to be meaningless at a time when Bahrain’s political leaders and main opposition figures are in jail.

“All dissidents are in prison, political leaders are either in solitary confinement or under house arrest while the Saudi forces have the country still under their occupation and in such an atmosphere negotiation is meaningless,” Rashed al-Rashed, a leader of Bahrain’s Amal Movement, told FNA.

“There are no national reconciliation talks in Bahrain and what is going on is a propaganda attempt by the regime,” he added.

He noted that the al-Khalifa regime has lost its legitimacy, and hence the talks offer lacks credibility.

Also earlier this month, a spokesman for the February 14 Youth Movement – a main opposition to the Manama regime – said that the al-Khalifa regime is no longer qualified to rule Bahrain due to the scope of crimes that it has committed so far, and added that the country’s revolutionaries are left with no other option but to topple the regime.

“We call on people to continue their protests and not to be deceived by the al-Khalifa plots. The people of Bahrain have a clear and single goal. Al-Khalifa is no longer qualified to rule the country due to the crimes it has committed and after the Saudi forces entered the country,” Abdulrao’uf al-Shaeb told FNA.

“I believe that the Bahraini revolutionaries are quite vigilant about the continuation of the revolution and the necessity for bringing substantial changes and these talks have not influenced their movements and protests, but it has inflamed the revolution’s flames and has made the people more determined to continue their path to the overthrow of the Al-Khalifa regime,” he added.

Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the al-Khalifa dynasty’s over-40-year rule, end of discrimination, establishment of justice and a democratically-elected government as well as freedom of detained protesters.

Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 13, 2011, to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.

So far, tens of people have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured. …source

February 20, 2013   No Comments

Bahrain opposition parties: no legitimacy for any solution without the people’s say

The National opposition forces in Bahrain stressed that it is important to respond to the demands of the political majority of the people of Bahrain and to stop turning a blind eye on the clear demands that have been raised by the people two years ago for change and transition to democracy.

Bahrain opposition parties: no legitimacy for any solution without the people’s say
14 February, 2013 – ABNA

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – The opposition parties said that the use of violence and force against peaceful demonstrations for the people’s legitimate demands has resulted in the death of many, while hundreds are still in detention and are tried for charges relating to freedom of opinion and expression. With all mentioned, there’s no indication for a serious desire for change as arrests and unfair trials continue.

The final communiqué issued by the opposition parties following the protests which took place in many areas across Bahrain Wednesday (13th Feb 2013) stated that what Bahrain needs is an inclusive political solution which hands power to the people, ending the state of dictatorship, authoritarianism and monopoly in order to start a new phase in which the people are the source of sovereignty and decision in all issues.

The opposition parties stressed that any political solution must be referred to the people through a referendum or a constituent council to obtain the voice of the majority. Any solution that is not approved by the people will be of no legitimacy and will be considered incomplete, and will not be able to achieve long-term stability for Bahrain, they stated.

The opposition also stressed that the suppressive security method cannot end the national demands of the political majority of the people. Such fantasy is impossible because these demands go back to more than a century ago.

The opposition parties praised the citizens in Bahrain for their adherence to the peaceful approach in the pro-democracy movement despite the huge sacrifices and official violence and terror, the nonviolence of the people has defeated the official tyranny and proved to the world how the people of Bahrain are civilized. …source

February 19, 2013   No Comments

Talks with Al-Khalifa Regime Meaningless

Opposition Figure Describes Proposed Talks with Al-Khalifa Regime as Meaningless
13 February, 2013 – FARS

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Bahraini opposition figure dismissed talks between the al-Khalifa regime and the country’s dissidents as meaningless at a time when Bahrain’s political leaders and main opposition figures are in jail.

“All dissidents are in prison, political leaders are either in solitary confinement or under house arrest while the Saudi forces have the country still under their occupation and in such an atmosphere negotiation is meaningless,” Rashed al-Rashed, a leader of Bahrain’s Amal Movement, told FNA on Wednesday.

“There are no national reconciliation talks in Bahrain and what is going on is a propaganda attempt by the regime,” he added.

He noted that the al-Khalifa regime has lost its legitimacy, and hence the talks offer lacks credibility.

Also earlier today, a spokesman for the February 14 Youth Movement – a main opposition to the Manama regime – said that the al-Khalifa regime is no longer qualified to rule Bahrain due to the scope of crimes that it has committed so far, and added that the country’s revolutionaries are left with no other option but to topple the regime.

“We call on people to continue their protests and not to be deceived by the al-Khalifa plots. The people of Bahrain have a clear and single goal. Al-Khalifa is no longer qualified to rule the country due to the crimes it has committed and after the Saudi forces entered the country,” Abdulrao’uf al-Shaeb told FNA.

“I believe that the Bahraini revolutionaries are quite vigilant about the continuation of the revolution and the necessity for bringing substantial changes and these talks have not influenced their movements and protests, but it has inflamed the revolution’s flames and has made the people more determined to continue their path to the overthrow of the Al-Khalifa regime,” he added.

Earlier this month, a senior Bahraini opposition figure described the al-Khalifa regime’s proposal for talks with dissidents as a failed plan, and said talks under the Saudi occupation are meaningless.

“I don’t believe that there is no serious plan for (the national) talks, and that no comprehensive agreement is considered (by the Bahraini regime),” Saeed al-Shahabi, Secretary-General of Bahrain Freedom Movement, told FNA at the time.

Shahabi said that the al-Khalifa has actually proposed the plan for talks to conceal the realities and the reality is that the Bahraini people have a big problem with the monarchy ruling their country.

He also called for the withdrawal of the Saudi forces who are collaborating with the al-Khalifa forces in suppressing the peaceful protests in Bahrain, and said any form of talks under the occupation of the Saudi forces would be impossible.

Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the al-Khalifa dynasty’s over-40-year rule, end of discrimination, establishment of justice and a democratically-elected government as well as freedom of detained protesters.

Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 13, 2011, to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.

So far, tens of people have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured. …source

February 14, 2013   No Comments

Bahrain regime holds gun to head of Oppostion as ‘talks’ proceed

Thus, a democratic resolution to Bahrain’s political crisis will not be achieved by the latest negotiations because the perpetrators of mass murder and injustice remain cozily embedded, by necessity for Western patronage.”

Bahraini regime holds gun to head in ‘negotiations’
10 February, 2013 – PressTV – By Finian Cunningham

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei described recent American offers of bilateral talks with Iran as tantamount to the US holding negotiations with a gun to the head.

The same apt metaphor, expressing the futility of conducting political talks under extreme duress, applies equally to the internal politics of Bahrain.

Today sees the beginning of yet another “national dialogue” in which the US-backed Al Khalifa regime has invited political opponents to – ostensibly – negotiate a solution to the country’s long-running crisis. The tiny Persian Gulf kingdom has been racked by daily political turmoil since a popular uprising erupted two years ago – on 14th February 2011.

Presumably, the regime now feels safe in holding discussions with the existing opposition parties – discussions within political parameters that have been bludgeoned by months of withering state terrorism and repression. The main opposition bloc, Al Wefaq, has already signaled that it is prepared to accept a revamped constitutional monarchy as part of a settlement. Notably, Washington and London have both been assiduously courting Wefaq to enter into the latest round of political talks with their surrogate, the Khalifa regime.

Meanwhile, more critical political opponents of the regime – who have wide support among the people – are locked up in prison, some serving life sentences on trumped-up charges of subversion. One of these leaders, Hassan Mushaima, is suffering from long-term illness that goes untreated. Another is Abduljalil Al Singace, who has just begun a hunger-strike along with other inmates. Other staunch political opponents, such as Saeed Shehabi, have been forced to live in exile.

These are the true voices of Bahrain’s political opposition who have called for the corrupt Khalifa regime to be sacked and banished, not entertained in any shape or form, to make way for a truly representative government elected by the people. But such voices will not be heard inside the Khalifa palace during Bahrain’s new round of “national dialogue.”

Predictably, the Western allies of the Bahraini regime, principally Washington and the old colonial ruler, Britain, have enthusiastically endorsed the latest political move. The reasons are self-serving and have nothing to do with finding a genuine democratic solution for the long-suffering people of Bahrain.

Indeed, the political talks are a subterfuge, really aimed at ensuring that democracy is denied. The Western governments – despite all their rhetoric about supporting democracy and human rights in the Middle East and elsewhere – are cynically well aware of the real anti-democratic objective in Bahrain. No doubt, they are the architects behind the sham political maneuver, which seeks to find “political compromise” – that is, “political cover” for continued misrule by Western-serving elites.

The current negotiations appear to be a magnanimous gesture from the Khalifa monarchy, reaching out to “its subject people”. This elite has ruled the oil-rich island as a corrupt family fiefdom ever since Britain granted nominal independence in 1971. The British imposed this dictatorship on the mainly Shia majority of Bahrain, and the Americans later became wedded to it, because the unelected elite – quaintly called a “constitutional monarchy” but in practice an absolute despot – was installed with the express purpose of serving the commercial and geopolitical interests of the Western powers, not the majority of Bahraini people. That imposter role continues very much to this day.

This is the same anti-democratic arrangement that prevails in Saudi Arabia and the other Persian Gulf oil sheikhdoms – all of them the illegitimate offspring of the conniving British Empire. And this is why democracy must not be allowed to succeed in Bahrain. Not now, not ever. The domino effect of democracy supplanting the Western-backed Persian Gulf dictatorships would be a disaster for Washington and London, the lynchpins of the petrodollar capitalist system.

Getting back to the issue of Bahrain’s new “national dialogue” and why it is bound to fail from the point of view of democracy, we can say this with certainty because the political talks are being conducted while the regime holds a gun to the head of the Bahraini people.

In fact, this is not a metaphor. Over the past two years, the Khalifa regime, led by King Hamad, has murdered, maimed and tortured thousands of Bahrainis, who have done nothing more than peacefully protest for the establishment of a democratic government. This regime is not interested in rights or law. How could it be when it has and continues to violate every precept and person it finds a threat to its barbarous rule? This regime is in no way willing to account for its crimes against the people. It has made clear that it has no intention of implementing the reasonable recommendations of the international Bassoon Report issued more than a year ago, calling for the release of all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.

The Al Khalifa potentate retains a self-styled royal prerogative to commit crimes on a massive scale with impunity; sending its security forces into Bahraini villages to shoot indiscriminately at peaceful protesters, poison people to death in their homes with chemical gases, and to smash their way into houses to drag away occupants to unknown torture dungeons. Human rights activists and journalists, who bear witness to these violations, are likewise persecuted, gagged, harassed and jailed.

The vicious repression of the Khalifa royal dictatorship continues unabated precisely because Washington and London have turned a blind eye to its crimes. Not just turned a blind eye; the Western governments have actively supported the Khalifa thugs with copious supplies of crowd-control weaponry and affording the crucial cover of ongoing normal diplomatic and commercial relations.

The complete de facto absence of rule of law in Bahrain and the thuggish suzerainty of unelected despots is not some aberration of Western governments. This is how these governments prefer and need political business to be run in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere. Fascism is the optimum model of Western capitalism, as practiced in the Persian Gulf (and increasingly practiced in fully fledged form back home in the US and Britain.)

Thus, a democratic resolution to Bahrain’s political crisis will not be achieved by the latest negotiations because the perpetrators of mass murder and injustice remain cozily embedded, by necessity for Western patronage.

In Syria, where regime change is desired for expedient self-serving reasons, the arrogant Western governments, without justification, call for President Assad to stand down. Yet the same stricture is not even mooted by these powers when it comes to the truly despotic Bahraini regime. Why? Because regime change in Bahrain and the Persian Gulf is far from desired; the more despotic the better to uphold Western strategic interests.

The Khalifa dynasty retains all its corrupt dictatorial powers bequeathed by Britain and sustained ever since by Washington. The new “dialogue” is simply a cynical charade to conceal this. The very fact that the rulers – or more accurately their Western masters – called for the negotiations indicates that the process is framed to ensure that the regime will, in effect, stay in power, not to find a genuine democratic settlement.

The status quo may have to undergo a cosmetic revamp, re-branded as a “new constitutional monarchy”, and there may follow formal elections. But such a compromise that allows a despotic regime to persist within the political fabric is not a worthy compromise. It is a squalid cop-out. What really needs to be done is for this regime to be prosecuted for crimes against the people, crimes not just committed over the past two years, but over the past four decades.

This is, of course, why Washington and London are backing the dialogue charade, as they have done with previous regime-led initiatives, because these Western governments know that the purpose of the negotiations is to ensure that their Bahraini tyrant-client will remain safely ensconced in power. The regime provides the US with a base for its Navy Fifth Fleet and is an important staging post for Western militarism across the Middle East, as well as being used as a bulwark against Iran’s influence in the vital oil-producing region.

Perhaps more importantly, the Khalifa regime is a bulwark against democracy and the rule of law becoming established in the Persian Gulf. That would present a mortal threat to the geopolitical interests of Washington and London. For these capitalist powers, democracy is simply anathema. For them, the Persian Gulf must remain, at all costs, a feudal backwater ruled by tyrants and unelected despots, who prop up the destructive petrodollar global system and who buy billions of dollars worth of Western weaponry, all in implacable opposition to the democratic needs of the people. (The Western public also needs to realize -and realize quickly – this ugly nature of their so-called governments. For the same oppressive dictatorial measures for satiating the unelected capitalist elite are being applied increasingly to them as well. )

In a very real way, the gun being held to the head of the Bahraini people is ultimately being held by Washington and London.

Will these nefarious powers succeed in their intimidation against democracy? That will be determined by the mass of Bahraini people who refuse the sham offer of negotiations within the constricting and stifling comforts of the Khalifa palace. Despite the Western-backed state terrorism over the past two years, these noble people know that their right for democratic freedom will eventually be won – the hard way – on the streets by bravely facing down the regime’s police thugs. They have sacrificed and suffered too much already to give up now; and the blood and love of their martyrs will sustain them in the struggle for victory. …source

February 10, 2013   No Comments

Bahrain Regime “talks” intendend to pacify oppostion on anniversary of blood stained uprising

Bahrain’s government-initiated national talks to start on Feb 10
6 February, 2013 – 10 February, 2013

The invitations for almost 17 pro-regime and opposition groups will be issued on Wednesday, with the members of both the lower and upper house of the country’s National Assembly also attending the talks beginning on February 10.

“We have every intention to make this dialogue a success,” Bahrain’s Information Affairs Minister Samira Rajab said. “The onus is on the other parties and their seriousness in pursuing dialogue.”

Despite expressing readiness to attend the talks, the opposition groups have cast doubt over the effectiveness of the talks.
The major opposition bloc, al-Wefaq, also pointed out the differences between their goals and the government’s mechanism and aims of the meeting.

The opposition leaders seek the presence of the ruling Al Khalifa family as well as international experts in the talks, senior al-Wefaq official Khalil al-Marzouq noted.

“We want a real dialogue, serious negotiations on a mechanism that will restore powers to the people and turn Bahrain into a constitutional monarchy,” Marzouq opined.

Earlier in July 2011, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa called for a national dialogue on reform and announced an investigation into the handling of the uprising by Saudi-backed regime forces.

The dialogue did not yield results as al-Wefaq party quit the negotiations, complaining that since their onset, the government had been trying to muffle the voice of the opposition.

This is while, Anti-regime protests rage on in the Persian Gulf Island, with the demonstrators demanding an elected prime minister replace Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa.

The Bahraini uprising against the Al Khalifa rule began in February 2011. The regime promptly launched a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests and called in Saudi-led Arab forces from neighboring states.

The Manama regime has arrested many rights activists, doctors, and nurses since the revolution began.

The Bahraini government is, meanwhile, supported by the United States despite its record of human rights abuse against its nationals.

…source

February 8, 2013   No Comments

Road to No Where

“Given the fact that the government is effectively an outgrowth of the ruling family in Bahrain, any dialogue without their involvement will be meaningless fiddling around the edges.”

Bahrain talks off to shaky start
BBC – 5 February, 2013

Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman leads protest march Jan 2013 The national dialogue aims at ending two years of protest and unrest in Bahrain

Talks aimed at resolving political unrest in the Gulf island kingdom of Bahrain look set to get off to an uncertain start.

The six opposition societies have agreed to meet with other groups on Sunday in a bid to end nearly two years of unrest.

The country’s justice minister has said he will serve as a moderator and government representative.

But the main opposition party al-Wefaq has already voiced grave doubts about a positive outcome.

Khalil al-Marzook, a senior member of the party told the BBC the ruling family was risking “dragging the country into an ambush of more sectarianism”.

Bahrain has a Shia Muslim majority population ruled by a Sunni royal family. Shia have long complained of marginalization and discrimination.

Mr Marzook added: “They (the royal family) have the mindset of playing games rather than solving problems. It is time wasting and it is not in the interests of the country.”
Frustration

Part of the opposition’s frustration has to do with the refusal of the government to enter directly into negotiations aimed at ending an impasse that has severely damaged the economy and polarized the country.

In response to a question from the BBC about what role the government would play, a spokesperson replied: “Representatives of the government’s ministries will be present at the dialogue to oversee and make suggestions if needed, but will not be there to take part in the dialogue itself.”

But that statement and others like it have left observers, the opposition and even some government insiders scratching their heads.

Kristian Coates-Ulrichsen is an expert on Gulf politics and a research fellow at the London School of Economics. He believes that unless the government sits down and is prepared to work with the opposition on moving toward compromise, the talks will fail.
Crown Prince Salman al-Khalifa (30 January 2013) The opposition has called for Crown Prince Salman to join talks aimed at ending nearly two years of unrest

“Given the fact that the government is effectively an outgrowth of the ruling family in Bahrain, any dialogue without their involvement will be meaningless fiddling around the edges.”

Reformers and hardliners

The leader of al-Wefaq, Sheikh Ali Salman had called for the Bahraini Crown Prince Salman al-Khalifa to attend the talks but that is not likely to happen.

The crown prince is seen as a reformist in a court divided on how to respond to opposition demands.

Hardliners – centred around the appointed Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who has been in his post since 1971 – are said to be opposed to the dialogue.

They fear that any concessions will only serve to encourage more demands from opposition leaders they deeply distrust.

On Wednesday against a backdrop of mutual suspicion, Sheik Salman flys to Moscow at the invitation of the Russian foreign ministry in a bid to bring pressure to bear on the ruling family.

“We are encouraging the international community to urge the al Khalifas to bring credibility, not more manoeuvres to the dialogue process,” Mr Marzook told the BBC.

The move, which caught some observers by surprise, may be part of a wider Russian initiative to improve an image that has been damaged by its stand on the Syria crisis.

“We’ve been asking for a meeting [with Russian officials] since July of last year,” Mr Marzook said, “but we just got the invitation on Sunday.”

This was the same day the Bahraini justice minister offered to renew a dialogue with the opposition. …source

February 5, 2013   No Comments

Hamad, the only dialogue in your future will be about your exodus

February 5, 2013   No Comments

Dialogue of brutality as Bahrain regime turns Manama into a terror zone to silence dissent

Saudi backed troops Bahraini regime turns Manama into a terror zone
27 January, 2013 – SHAFAQNA

SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — On Friday, the regime in Bahrain conducted mass arrests amidst its brutal crackdown on citizens who gathered in the heart of the Capital Manama to protest for democracy demanding an end to the dictatorial tyrannical rule. The regime deployed civil militias backed by security forces and mercenaries, in large numbers, and set military roadblocks imposing a strict security cordon on the Capital on Friday morning ahead of a scheduled protest for 3:30pm. The regime forces chased the citizens in Manama alleys and attacked them with different grenades terrorizing citizens and the residents in the area. Among the big number of arrests was a religious figure and member of the central body of the Olamaa Islamic Council, Sheik Fadhil al-Zaki. Al-Zaki wa handcuffed and held arrested in a humiliating manner during the protests. Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society stated that this reflects the regime’s hostility against religious figures. Al-Wefaq demanded his immediate release along with the tens of citizens who were arrested at the Manama protests last Friday. …source

January 29, 2013   No Comments

Saudi backed brutality punishes Villages as Opportunists push Opposition back to Hamad’s poisonous “dialogue”

Saudi-backed forces, mourners clash in Bahrain
27 January, 2013 – PressTV

Heavy clashes have reportedly erupted between anti-regime protesters and Saudi-backed security forces in the Bahraini village of Daih.

Protesters clashed with security forces, as they were moving towards Manama’s Pearl Square, also known as Martyr Square, the birthplace of the popular uprising that began two years ago.

Security forces fired tear gas and gunshots to break up the rally, which was also held to commemorate Qasim Habib Ja’far, an eight-year old boy who lost his life after inhaling tear gas fired by the Al Khalifa regime forces a few days ago.

Over the past months, a number of Bahrainis, including children, have died due to the inhalation of poisonous tear gas fired by Bahraini forces.

Last year, Amnesty International warned about the Bahraini regime’s misuse of tear gas against protesters and called for an investigation into the tear gas-related deaths.

Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid-February 2011, demanding political reform and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.

The Manama regime has arrested many rights activists, doctors and nurses since the uprising began.

Bahrainis say they will continue anti-regime demonstrations until their demand for the establishment of a democratically-elected government and an end to rights violations is met. …source

January 28, 2013   No Comments

Hamad, “dialogue is only way forward” – the only way to keep his regime in power

December 13, 2012   No Comments

Dellusional Dialogue won’t right political detentions, torture victims, broken heads, gassed babies and birdshot bodies

December 12, 2012   No Comments

Regime calls for “lopsided dialogue” with Oppostion that it has choosen not to imprison

Bahrain: Shiite clerics must ‘prohibit’ violence
AP – 7 December, 2012

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain’s Shiite religious leaders must more forcefully denounce violence as a key step to ease the kingdom’s 22-month uprising, the country’s crown prince said Friday at the opening of an international security conference.

The appeal by Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa underscores the view of Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy that Shiite clerics should be held partly responsible for rising violence in the strategic Gulf nation. It also suggests authorities could increase pressure on top Shiite clergymen, whom he referred to as ‘ayatollahs’ — a term more often associated with senior religious figures in rival Iran.

“I call on all those who disagree with the government, including the ayatollahs, to condemn violence on the street unequivocally . And more, to prohibit violence,” the crown prince told policymakers and political figures gathered for the annual two-day conference known as the Manama Dialogue. “Responsible leadership is called for and I believe dialogue is the only way forward,” he added.

More than 55 people have died in the unrest since February 2011, when Bahrain’s majority Shiites escalated a long-simmering drive for a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled country.

The monarchy has offered some concessions, including giving the elected parliament expanded powers. But it falls far short of Shiite demands to loosen the Sunni rulers’ controls over key government appointments and policies.

Shiite religious leaders, including the most senior cleric Sheik Isa Qassim, have never publicly endorsed violence, but have encouraged peaceful anti-government protests to challenge authorities. Breakaway groups during demonstrations often clash with riot police.

The conference includes high-level envoys from Bahrain’s Western allies, which have so far stood behind the kingdom’s leadership but are increasingly troubled by rising violence and continued crackdowns on the opposition. The U.S. delegation is led by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and includes Arizona Sen. John McCain.

The crown prince thanked a host of nations for assistance during the crisis, but noticeably did not refer to the U.S. in his remarks — an omission that underlined the two countries’ increasingly strained ties. He criticized nations that “selectively” criticize Bahrain’s leadership, without citing specific countries.

Washington has called for dialogue in Bahrain, but sharply condemned its leaders’ decision late last month to ban political rallies. The country hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, the Pentagon’s main hub against Iran’s rising military profile in the Gulf.

Earlier, the leaders of Bahrain’s main opposition group urged participants at the summit to press Bahraini officials to open wide-ranging talks.

Sheik Ali Salman told thousands of supporters that the international envoys should push Bahrain’s rulers to recognize the “demands of the people” and open negotiations. …source

December 10, 2012   No Comments

No Dialogue with Killers!

March 19, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain says talks to continue despite opposition walkout – talking to the mirror

Bahrain says talks to continue despite opposition walkout
Isabel Coles, Reuters July 18, 2011, 11:47 pm

DUBAI (Reuters) – Bahrain’s government expressed regret Monday that the country’s largest Shi’ite opposition group Wefaq planned to pull out of a national dialogue, but said political talks would continue with or without the influential group.

The Gulf kingdom’s Sunni rulers launched a national dialogue on July 2 to discuss reforms and address grievances, after a four-month crackdown that began in March and crushed weeks of pro-democracy protests led by the Shi’ite majority.

A walkout by the largest opposition group could damage the dialogue’s chances of reaching national consensus as sectarian tensions continue to simmer in kingdom.

Protests have erupted almost daily in Shi’ite villages ringing the capital Manama since Bahrain lifted emergency law in June, and tension had been rising as demonstrators increasingly demanded that the opposition quit the talks.

The National Dialogue’s spokesman, Isa Abdul Rahman, said Wefaq could rejoin the talks if it changed its mind.

“Should any participant choose to exclude themselves from the process, the door will remain open for them to return to the talks. Regardless of any participant’s decision to leave the Dialogue will continue,” he said.

Wefaq said Sunday it would withdraw because its views were not being taken seriously in talks it accused of being dominated by pro-government representatives. That decision still has to be ratified by the movement’s higher council.

Wefaq and six other political opposition groups, which were invited to take part in talks, have complained their proposed political reforms would never be put into effect because the opposition received only 35 out of 300 seats at the talks.

Wefaq, which held over 40 percent of seats in the country’s elected lower council before it resigned in protest in February, was given five seats at the talks.

The government has defended its apportioning of representatives, saying it wants the dialogue to include all Bahrainis, whether they are involved in politics or not.

Bahrain is seen as a fault line for tensions between Iran and Sunni Gulf Arab countries that are wary of protests spreading to their own Shi’ite minorities. The government has accused the opposition of pursuing a sectarian agenda with backing from nearby Shi’ite power Iran, charges the groups deny.

Mainstream opposition groups such as Wefaq have called for a more representative parliamentary system and greater powers for the elected lower council, whose powers are neutered by the upper Shura council, appointed by the king.

But hard liners calling for the abolition of the monarchy have gained popularity since the crackdown.

Dialogue spokesman Abdul Rahman said he was disappointed Wefaq had not stuck with the talks.

“It is sometimes harder to stay and help shape the solution than to walk away. Now is the moment to heal divides and unite behind a shared vision of Bahrain’s future,” said spokesman Isa Abdul Rahman. “We consider al-Wefaq’s contribution to the dialogue as central to its success thus far.” …source

July 19, 2011   No Comments

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon disingenuous, hugely naive, or out-of-touch with reality, maybe just insulting – not even school yard conflicts are mediated without a neutral third party???

Secretary-General welcomes start of national dialogue in Bahrain
5 July 2011

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the start of a process of national dialogue in Bahrain, taking note of Government steps to improve the political atmosphere by creating an investigations commission, transferring some trials to civilian courts and releasing detainees.

He encouraged the Bahraini authorities to take further steps towards political, economic and social reforms in accordance with the country’s international human rights obligations.

“As the dialogue process gets under way, he urges the Government to do everything possible to ensure a genuine, all-inclusive and meaningful dialogue that will lead to tangible political, economic and social reforms which meet the legitimate aspirations of all Bahraini people,” according to a note released by the spokesperson of the Secretary-General.

Mr. Ban said the process is essential for healing social tensions and promoting greater national unity and stability.

Bahrain was recently hit by unrest similar to the popular protest movements in countries across North Africa and the Middle East this year, notably including Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Yemen.

The Secretary-General had last month called for a process of political dialogue that would be “genuine, inclusive and lead to tangible outcomes which address the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis.” …more

July 5, 2011   No Comments

National Dialogue marches on the streets on Manama

Hardliners clash with police in Bahrain

By Simeon Kerr in Manama
The Financial Times

Hundreds of Shia youths clashed with security forces in Bahrain as opposition hardliners gave their verdict on the national dialogue launched by the king on Saturday.

In the worst clashes since the authorities launched a crackdown on largely Shia pro-democracy protesters in March, scores of protesters engaged in close-quarter clashes with security forces firing tear gas and rubber bullets. …source

July 2, 2011   No Comments

Bahrain’s true “national dialogue” is in her streets and in her prisons

July 2, 2011   No Comments

al Khalifa builds new narrative in “national dialogue” of his design and control – brutal repression, state murders, torture and detention continues – Western Press “spins happy thoughts” as the abused wife retruns to her abuser

Bahrain: Sides talk on political unrest
Published: July 2, 2011 at 9:01 AM

MANAMA, Bahrain, July 2 (UPI) — Talks began Saturday in Bahrain between the Sunni Muslim-led government and majority Shiites calling for proportional representation, officials said.

King Hamad Bin Issa Al Khalifa ordered the talks days ago in a bid to put down demonstrations that have resulted in at least 30 deaths since February, the BBC reported.

The nationally televised talks in Manama involved 300 delegates, only about 50 of which were from the Shiite al-Wifaq opposition party, The Wall Street Journal said.

When protests began sweeping Arab countries in the Middle East and Africa early this year, 18 Wifaq Shiite parliamentarians quit in protest and eight senior party members were sentenced to life in prison, the Journal reported. The party is calling for their release, along with hundreds of others jailed for protesting.

The king called in troops from neighboring Sunni Gulf states to suppress the rebellion, although most have left in recent days as the monarch has made conciliatory gestures, including the creation of a committee to investigate allegations of brutality by security forces.

Regardless of the outcome of the talks scheduled to last a month, the BBC said Bahrain’s appointed senate called the Shura Council can overturn any commitments. …source

July 2, 2011   No Comments

Kuwait stands down to compliment al Khalifa “show talks”

Kuwait Ends Bahrain Naval Mission: State Media
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE – Published: 2 Jul 2011 10:41

KUWAIT CITY – Kuwaiti naval forces on July 2 ended a mission to secure Bahrain’s maritime border they began in March amid a crackdown on Shiite protesters, the official KUNA news agency reported.

“The Kuwaiti naval task force in the Kingdom of Bahrain ended today (July 1) its mission to contribute to the protection of the maritime border of Bahrain and securing it in cooperation with the Bahraini navy, which began in March,” KUNA said.

The announcement came the same day that Bahrain opened a national dialogue said to be aimed at relaunching political reforms.

Saudi Arabia deployed about a thousand troops to Bahrain in March while the United Arab Emirates sent some 500 police – deployments that freed up Bahraini security forces to crush a month-long Shiite-led protest movement calling for reforms in the Sunni-ruled, Shiite-majority kingdom.

A Saudi official said on June 28 that the Peninsula Shield force of Gulf troops sent to Bahrain were to be “redeployed” but will not withdraw completely.

Kuwaiti Sunni Islamist MPs had announced before the naval deployment that they would move to question the prime minister in parliament for not sending troops to Bahrain. …source

July 2, 2011   No Comments

al Khalifa releases 100 hostages to score PR points and make “national dialogue” more palatable for participants seeking political capitial

Bahrain releases more than 100 detainees
By shiapost – July 2, 2011Posted in: Bahrain
palatable
Manama: Bahrain on Saturday released more than 100 people who were detained on security-related charges.

No official statement has been issued about the number or names of those who have been allowed to go home.

The release coincides with the launch of the national dialogue, a forum for more than 300 Bahrainis from political societies, NGOs, the media, the parliament, the municipal councils, the trade unions and the business community, to discuss the future of Bahrain following weeks of deep divisions sparked by the country’s worst crisis in its modern history. …more

July 2, 2011   No Comments

Bahrain government, US and Al Wefaq appear smug, pleased with al Khalifa power broker arrangment as al Khalifa Security Forces attack villages and protesters that rejected talks

Protests against Bahrain ‘national dialogue’
Reports that police have fired tear gas at protesters denouncing reconciliation talks between government and opposition.
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2011 15:38 – AlJazeera

Witnesses in Bahrain say riot police have fired tear gas at protesters who were denouncing reconciliation talks between the Gulf kingdom’s Sunni rulers and the Shia opposition.

The renewed violences came late on Saturday, hours after opposition and pro-government groups began talks aimed at healing the deep rifts caused after protests earlier this year were brutally repressed.

The protesters gathered near a landmark square in the capital Manama, that had been the epicentre of the pro-democracy uprising that began in February.

The witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of harassment by authorities.

Scepticism over national dialogue

The opposition has expressed scepticism over whether the national dialogue, decreed by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, can accomplish anything, noting that it only has 35 of the 300 seats at the bargaining table.

“We start without conditions or limits, our only condition is accepting one another,” Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Dhahrani, chairman of the dialogue and also a speaker of parliament, said on Saturday.

Isa Abdulrahman, a government spokesperson, said the environment in Bahrain is conducive to fruitful negotiations between the Sunni ruling elite and the opposition.

He described the “the high turnout” to the talks as a testament to the absence of concerns for participants.

“When you reach a percentage of 94 per cent of the people that you have invited to attend the dialogue, they have accepted, willingly, to take part in the dialogue,” he said.

Abdulrahman said around 80 per cent of participants have submitted proposals that will be discussed over the coming month.

The Gulf Arab kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia is strategically important, hosting the headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

Washington was encouraged by “the decision of Al-Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest opposition political society, to join the national dialogue recently announced by King Hamad,” Mark Toner, a spokesperson for the US state department, said.

Inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled rulers in the two countries, Bahrain’s Shia, who say they are discriminated against, took to the streets in February and March to demand political reforms.

The nation’s Sunni rulers crushed the movement with martial law and help from security forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

An estimated 30 people died, hundreds were arrested and thousands of Shias lost their jobs. …more

July 2, 2011   No Comments

al Khalifa murders protestor on eve of “national dialogue” and against back drop of “investigation committe” in arrogant display of the regimes inpuity

One dies in fresh Bahraini clashes
By shiapost – July 1, 2011Posted in: Bahrain

As anti-regime demonstrations continue in Bahrain, one protestor has died of injuries on his head sustained by a stun-bomb thrown by the regime’s security forces.

Thousands of protesters marched in streets across the country on Friday, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Protesters renewed their call for an end to the Al Khalifa regime. They also demanded the release of all detained protesters, activists and opposition leaders.

Security forces of the Saudi-backed regime responded with tear gas and stun grenades, according to some activists.

Anti-regime protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February, calling for an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty’s rule.

In March, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have deployed some 1,500 military forces to Bahrain to help the government crush the nationwide protests. Yet, the protests have only grown more popular. …more

July 1, 2011   No Comments

Tensions high as Bahrain dialogue looms

Tensions high as Bahrain dialogue looms
By Reed Stevenson and Erika Solomon

MANAMA/DUBAI | Fri Jul 1, 2011 12:56pm EDT

MANAMA/DUBAI (Reuters) – Bahrain launches a national dialogue Saturday but many in the Shi’ite majority doubt the ruling Sunni monarchy will offer the concessions that could heal wounds caused by a crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

The kingdom, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has accused its mostly Shi’ite protesters of a sectarian agenda backed from non-Arab Shi’ite power Iran, across Gulf waters.

In March, Bahrain’s Sunni rulers imposed emergency law, inviting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to send troops, and tanks rolled into the island as local forces cleared the streets of protesters, arresting hundreds of people.

Inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled rulers in those countries, Bahrain’s Shi’ites called for a greater say in government and an end to what they say was systematic discrimination in access to jobs and social services. …more

July 1, 2011   No Comments

Bahrain leftists head to talks, but fear crisis – they make an effort , substaintial diagoue cannot happen without freedom for leadership in torturous prisons

Bahrain leftists head to talks, but fear crisis
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
By ERIKA SOLOMON
Reuters Manama Bahrain

A leader of Bahrain’s second largest opposition group said the party would join a national dialogue next week but a sectarian crisis was inevitable unless talks led to genuine political reform.

Four months after Bahrain’s Sunni Muslim rulers quashed pro-democracy protests led by the Shiite majority, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has set July 1 as the start of a national dialogue to discuss economic, political and social reforms.

The opposition has said only deep political reform, not mere dialogue, can permanently end popular unrest.

“The government needs to develop progressive solutions. This crisis is political,” Radhi al-Mousawi told Reuters in an interview. “Without a permanent solution to reforming the constitutional monarchy, the crisis will return in a few years.”

Mainstream opposition groups such as Waad seek a more representative parliament with legislative powers that are not weakened by an upper Shura council appointed by the king.

The government has said all types of political, economic and social reform can be discussed but the opposition is suspicious that the wide variety of issues will diminish the chances of agreeing on real democratization.

Participants in the dialogue will send their proposals for approval to Bahrain’s ruling family at the end of the talks.

Waad, a secular leftist party run by Sunnis and Shiites alike, was the worst-hit during unrest this year. Both of its offices were repeatedly set ablaze and the government banned its operations, a decision it reversed just last week.

Waad members believe their non-sectarian voice made them a target by hardliners in support of the government, who they accuse of stoking sectarian tensions in the Gulf island kingdom.

“The government cannot gain victory over people by sewing sectarian divisions. Sectarianism could destroy us. The wars in Lebanon and Iraq have shown us that,” Mr. Mousawi said as he examined the charred walls of Waad’s offices in Manama. …more

June 27, 2011   No Comments