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Bahrain dialogue looks set to fail: Sheikh Issa Qasim

Aggrieved Shiites say Bahrain dialogue doomed to fail
June 25, 2011 02:21 AM
By Daily Star Staff

MANAMA: A top Bahraini Shiite cleric said Friday that a national dialogue scheduled to start next week looked set to fail, as the opposition nursed “pain and suffering” from the jailing of protesters.

Bahrain has tried dozens of people by military court in the wake of a fierce March crackdown by its Sunni rulers on mass protests led mostly by the Shiite majority. Hundreds, mostly Shiites, were arrested and many have yet to be charged.

Sheikh Issa Qasim, the most revered Shiite cleric in the Gulf island kingdom, told the audience crammed into his village mosque that conditions for the talks due to start next Friday were not promising.

“This dialogue says for itself it is a failure … It is difficult to reconcile what is happening on the ground with the call to dialogue.”

The criticism came less than a day after Bahrain’s military court said it would move all the protest-linked trials it had not started to a civilian court.

But authorities pressed ahead with plans for the dialogue yesterday.

Crown Prince of Bahrain, Salman Bin Hamad al-Khalifah said in a statement on Al-Wasat newspaper that the dialogue would not serve “one category of people without the other”

“We do not work for one side without another, and our goal is to uplift all the Bahraini people because this is our historic responsibility that we are aiming to achieve and that is the goal the integral and unified concept of which his highness [the king] has observed through his reform program and the launching of the National Reconciliation Dialogue,” the statement read. …more

June 24, 2011   No Comments

Bahrain extends deadline for national dialogue

Bahrain extends deadline for national dialogue
By shiapost (online) – June 24, 2011Posted in: Bahrain

Bahrain has extended the deadline for involvement in the kingdom’s national dialogue which aims to tackle political and social issues following the recent unrest.

The deadline to get involved has been extended by three days to June 26, Bahrain’s state news agency reported.

Political groups, NGOs and other groups will have until that date to submit their proposals to be included in the four-pronged agenda, which will spotlight political, economic, social and legal issues.

National Dialogue official spokesman Isa Abdulrahman said that results of the dialogue would be submitted to King Hamad bin Isa A-Khalifa, who will then refer them to competent constitutional institutions, BNA added. …source

June 24, 2011   No Comments

Bahrain’s dialogue met with skepticism – No dialogue with opposition in Prison

Bahrain’s dialogue with opposition groups met with skepticism
June 17, 2011 02:49 AM
By Brian Murphy
Associated Press

DUBAI: Bahrain’s ruler has canceled all vacations for top officials next month and a special center and mediator have been named for talks with opposition groups, proposed to open on July 1.Now the question is whether anyone will show up.

The Shiite groups that speak on behalf of protesters – who took to the streets four months ago to demand greater rights – have shown no rush to embrace the appeals for dialogue by the Sunni monarchs they accuse of creating a two-tier society in the Gulf kingdom.

The possible failure to open talks could be interpreted as far more significant than simply a payback snub by Bahrain’s Shiite majority after unrest that’s claimed at least 31 lives and left hundreds of people detained or expelled from jobs and studies.

It would serve as clear recognition that the complexities on the tiny island – drawing in heavyweight issues such as U.S. military interests and Arab worries over Iran – are too vast to solve over cups of tea between the rulers and the opposition.

“Events seem to have gone too far and too fast for some kind of quick fix through talks,” said Toby Jones, a Bahrain expert at Rutgers University.

Bahrain’s choice of mediator for the proposed talks is under question. The government appointed the Parliament speaker to head the dialogue, but opposition groups consider it a downgrade from the first pointman, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa. …source

June 16, 2011   No Comments

US continues “clueless and out-of-touch” in realities of Bahrain – dialogue not possible with leadership detained

U.S. Says Concerned By Bahrain Detentions, Urges Dialogue
June 15, 2011

The United States says tensions in Bahrain are very high ahead of a planned national dialogue after weeks of pro-democracy protests and urged the authorities to encourage people to speak out.

Visiting the Bahraini capital, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner said Washington remained concerned about the detention of Bahrainis without charge and reports of torture during interrogations.

He voiced support for the dialogue proposed by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa but called for transparency during the forthcoming trials of dozens of people charged with illegal activities during this year’s protests.

Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s regionally strategic Fifth Fleet, quashed weeks of protests in March.

It called in troops from neighboring Gulf Arab countries and imposed emergency law, which it lifted just last week.

June 15, 2011   No Comments