December 10, 2013 No Comments
Bahrainis determined to get political change: Saeed Shehabi
16 October, 2013 – PressTV
October 18, 2013 No Comments
Bahrian regime engages ‘false flag’ arrests in bid to direct blame for it’s imminent collapse on Iran, Hezbollah
Bahrain says Iran, Hezbollah behind “terror cell”
20 February, 2013 – Al Akhbar
Bahrain has accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and the Lebanese Hezbollah of setting up a militant cell to assassinate public figures in the Gulf Arab kingdom and attack its airport and government buildings.
Bahraini authorities said on Sunday they had arrested eight Bahrainis in the group, with links to Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.
In a statement published by the official Bahrain News Agency late on Tuesday, Bahrain’s head of public security said the cell was part of a group called the “Imam Army” which included Bahrainis at home and abroad and members of other nationalities.
It claimed an officer from Iran’s Revolutionary guard, codenamed ‘Abu Nasser’ paid the suspects $80,000 to take photos of ‘sensitive locations’, and collect information on public figures in the country.
The kingdom, base for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has been in political turmoil since protests erupted there in 2011, demanding an end to the Sunni monarchy’s political domination and full powers for parliament.
Bahrain has accused Iran of fueling the unrest, an accusation Tehran has consistently denied.
Authorities also implicated Lebanon’s Hezbollah in the alleged “terror cell”, claiming that suspects were trained in “Hezbollah facilities” in the Iraqi cities of Karbala and Baghdad. They also traveled to Lebanon and Iran, they said.
“Members trained in use of weapons, explosives including C4, the writing of surveillance reports and the monitoring of targeted persons,” said the statement.
The cell’s planned targets included the Ministry of Interior and Bahrain International Airport, said General Tareq al-Hassan, who heads the general security agency.
Five of the detainees were arrested in Bahrain and three in Oman, General Hassan said, adding another four Bahrainis were being sought by the authorities.
Hassan said authorities had collected evidence in the form of papers and electronic documents, flashcards, phones, computers, cash and images of bank transactions.
On Monday Ramin Mehmanparast, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, dismissed Sunday’s news of the arrests.
“Unfortunately Bahraini officials are following a mistaken path,” Iran’s ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.
He said Bahraini officials were “making accusations against various countries including Iran, and they imagine that in this way they can solve the problem they are encountering”.
Bahraini authorities have led a sweeping crackdown on dissidents in the wake of a mass popular uprising that erupted in February 2011.
Saudi troops entered Bahrain in March 2011 to help crush the revolt against the Khalifa ruling family, but protests still occur almost daily.
Over 80 people have been killed by riot police, or while in custody, since the uprising began. ..source
February 20, 2013 No Comments
Silent crisis: Bahrain opposition seeks support, international attention in Russia
9 February, 2013 – Russia Times
While Western media are focusing intensely on the Syrian unrest, injustices and human rights violations committed in Bahrain have been left out of sight, its opposition claims.
“The media have been silent about the crisis in Bahrain. There is a political reason to it and is immoral and unprofessional. Those who make a fuss about the events in Syria and Libya have forgotten that the Bahraini people are suffering from political repressions,” Fazil Iskander Abbas, general secretary of National-Democratic movement, said at a press-conference in Moscow.
On Friday, Bahrain opposition leaders met with Russian Foreign Ministry officials in Moscow to seek support in their struggle against the ‘dictatorship’.
Bahrain has experienced a military intervention from Saudi Arabian forces, who were invited to suppress “of its own people and popular movements and peaceful rallies” who demand a real legislative power and a government elected by the people, Fazil Abbas said.
The ‘dictatorship’ is supported by the Arab League, who does not interfere in the situation in the country, and the US, which pursues its own economic and military interests, the opposition leader explained.
Bahrain hosts US crucial naval military base. The opposition believes this is one of the reasons Washington closes eyes to people’s demands for democracy.
“It’s the US administration who blocks the launch of international criminal proceedings over the Bahraini regime. They have used double standards – on the one hand, they demand regime change in Syria, and on the other they support a dictatorship regime in Bahrain,” said Abbas.
The delegation expressed hope that the Bahraini people would accept and welcome Russian support.
“We urge the Russian leadership to support a serious dialogue in Bahrain and, in case this dialogue doesn’t take place, we urge Russia to take up a tough stance in international organizations that would prevent the US from ignoring the Bahraini crisis on the international level,” Abbas said.
Meanwhile, Bahraini authorities claim the country has no problems with freedom of speech or democracy.
“There is a democratic regime with high level of freedoms established in Bahrain,” said Information Minister Samira Rajab Bahraini told RT.
The minister denounced the opposition visit to Moscow, saying that use of international forces to interfere with sovereign issues of the state is not civilized or politically healthy.
Recent months have seen massive anti-government protests in Bahrain where people demand greater democracy and calling for an end to the Al-Khalifa family’s nearly four-decade rule. They accuse the ruling Sunni family of a crackdown on the country`s Shiite majority.
Some of the peaceful rallies turned violent as police tried to disperse demonstrations using teargas and grenades. In January one protester died after inhaling poisonous teargas. …source
February 11, 2013 No Comments
Bahrain regime games and dialogue of misdirection will not stop demands for democracy and freedom and dignity
Opposition parties: any dialogue outcomes not approved by the people is invalid
2 February, 2013 – ABNA
Bahrain opposition parties stated in the final communiqué of Friday 1st February mass rally that as the second anniversary of the 14 February pro-democracy revolution approaches, the Bahrainis are on streets to show their persistence to their legitimate demands and that their movement will not end until demands for democracy and freedom and dignity are met and rights are respected.
Opposition parties: any dialogue outcomes not approved by the people is invalid (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – Bahrain opposition parties stated in the final communiqué of Friday 1st February mass rally that as the second anniversary of the 14 February pro-democracy revolution approaches, the Bahrainis are on streets to show their persistence to their legitimate demands and that their movement will not end until demands for democracy and freedom and dignity are met and rights are respected.
On ground, the pro-democracy movement has continued for two years with nonstop daily protests and assemblies to prove that betting on an end to this revolution before democracy is achieved is fantasy, they stated.
The opposition parties pointed out that the announced dialogue is vague and under fog, and does not reflect a real and serious approach to respond to the people’s demands. Any dialogue that does not fulfill the people’s demands for a democratic transition and does not enable the people to manage their country’s affairs will lack value and its outcomes cannot be taken into consideration. Sovereignty is for the people and any dialogue outcomes not acknowledged by the people will be invalid, they stressed.
The opposition parties stressed that the popular demands raised in the 14 February revolution that had erupted two years ago in 2011have not been abandoned, the same demands are raised today and they represent the minimum which cannot be waived or bargained.
The opposition parties strongly believe that keeping prisoners of conscience including opposition figures and leaders behind bars, in addition to the ongoing arbitrary arrests and unjust trials and unfair dismissals of medics and loyal patriotic cadres from work all indicate the real approach of the regime towards the popular demands.
The opposition parties, once again, assured that the movement on ground will not stop, the peaceful protests will continue to take to streets in all areas across Bahrain, this is an active movement which cannot stop under any circumstances until the people of Bahrain realize freedom and democracy. …more
February 4, 2013 No Comments
One Year After Bassiouni, U.S. Should Chart New Course in Bahrain
21 November, 2012 – Human Rights First
Washington, DC – Human Rights First today urged the U.S. government to radically reassess its approach to dealing with the Kingdom’s response to ongoing calls for reform in Bahrain. This week marks one year since the release of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s (BICI) findings and recommendations. Bahrain’s promised reforms following the report’s release have been inadequate and its human rights violations continue. Just this morning, 23 more medics were convicted by the Bahrain courts and sentenced to three months in prison for taking part in illegal gatherings last year. Five medics were acquitted.
“A year ago, I was in the King of Bahrain’s palace when he promised his government would implement the human rights reforms outlined in the BICI report. He told us officials responsible for his government’s violent crackdown would be replaced and held accountable. It hasn’t happened,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “The Bahrain regime points to reforms on paper, but the crisis needs a fundamental change in approach, including from the U.S.government.”
Dooley notes that if the U.S.government continues to support the King while giving only muted encouragement to human rights defenders and peaceful protestors, it risks ending up with a violent conflict. The United State gave the Bahraini government a chance to introduce real reform, a chance it failed to take.
“The U.S.government needs to acknowledge that it needs a new strategy. It needs to speak out publicly and call for the release of political prisoners, introduce visa bans on those it believes responsible for violations, and appoint a senior representative to advocate for U.S. interests in Bahrain,” said Dooley.
Friday’s anniversary of the BICI report is also International Day Against Impunity. To date, no senior Bahraini government official has been held accountable for the violations last year. …source
November 21, 2012 No Comments
Bahrain: Summoning of Al-Marzouq is an emptying of the political conduct
18 Novemebr, 2012 – ABNA.co
The regime in Bahrain continues to suppress the opposition leaders and its masses through various methods, including summons and arbitrary extrajudicial arrests undertaken by the regime’s security services.
Bahrain: Summoning of Al-Marzouq is an emptying of the political conduct(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – The regime in Bahrain continues to suppress the opposition leaders and its masses through various methods, including summons and arbitrary extrajudicial arrests undertaken by the regime’s security services. As the criminal investigation directorate has summoned Mr.Khallil al-Marzouq, political assistant of al-Wefaq SG, Thursday 15th for reasons relating to freedom of opinion and expression, questioning him on his interactions with the media to explain the opposition’s stance towards the events in Bahrain.
The opposition forces condemn such measure and stress that this suppressive behavior of the regime aims to silence the opposition and tighten the media noose. This contradicts with the pledges made by the Bahraini regime before the BICI and the UN’s Human Rights Council to implement recommendations of the UPR to unconditionally respect freedoms of opinion and expression, the opposition said.
The state media controls all audio, visual and print media and does not grant the opposition access to media that is funded by public money. The opposition is even banned from issuing press journals.
The state media also disdains dissidents and incites hatred between communities of the Bahraini society. The state media is the one who spreads false news and relates it to international parties, and this entails transparent interrogation and apparent measures to stop the corruption of the official media. However, the opposition forces stated that opposition leaders, who have proved to the world their objectivity and sagacity, should not be persecuted.
The opposition forces warn the regime of consequences of its silencing policy and consider it an onslaught on the very tight remaining margin of freedom of opinion and expression, in order to prevent the opposition from practicing its right to clarify its stances. This contradicts with the regime’s claims of democracy in Bahrain. Such measures increase the possibility of a wider political conflict that could bring about unpredictable consequences.
The opposition forces bring forward the summoning of al-Marzouq to the international human rights organizations as an outrageous violation of human rights that must be condemned and put an end to. …more
November 18, 2012 No Comments
August 31, 2012 No Comments
Letter to a Revolutionary
Yesterday I read a letter from Mashrou3 Leila:
“Today I found myself walking down Hamra Street, humming Abdul-Halim Hafez’s ‘Ana Leik Ala Tool’ to myself, and I could swear I heard you singing the harmony into my ear. It made me giggle a little burn into my chest. I worry you might get caught in a protest, imprisoned, kidnapped, missing, gone. But I know you need to do what you need to do; I wouldn’t ask you not to, but please be safe. Someday, I promise, worry will be a sentiment completely alien to us.”
These words spoke to me, they spoke to the little demon worrier that seems to have taken residence up in my head. The letter spoke of fears of loss, it spoke of courage and of strength. It spoke of accepting the evidence of the need to fight, despite the dangers and the intimidation, despite the worry and the dread. You know this is what I struggle with the most, you know I couldn’t bear to lose you to the claws of an absurd regime. You know me, inside and out.
Leila’s story is fictional but for us it is all too real, or maybe she’s just a projection of a million fears experienced by a million hearts, making her more real than we could ever be.
You and I my friend are the children of the demise and disappointment of all our comrades before us, and the parents of an angry movement of hope : we tried and are still trying to revive the spark of contestation and revolution , and we’ve managed to a certain extent, or so I would like to believe. We’re marching for our present, yes, for our future, certainly, but we are also marching for our fallen friends, the ones who got killed and crushed and harassed and silenced. The ones who are still alive, They’re older now, they’re bitter, too, they don’t seem like they still can find the strength in them to carry on, yet you can find them next to us, their eyes barely daring to believe again, carrying in their hearts the memory of all they have lost, just like we carry in ours the smiles of those of whom we’re separated from by the inexorability of death or by the atrocity of prison walls and tortures.
My love, it seems like we have lost the innocence of youth and with it the ability to enjoy things in their superficiality. We can not be fooled anymore, and perhaps some days this realization is too painful for us to bear. My love, we are too dangerous for them to avoid us, they will hunt us down, we shall be prepared.
I keep hearing people comfortably sitting on plush chairs pompously labeling what we do: the Iranian “Green Movement” or the “Twitter Revolution”, as if Evin had never existed, as if the Iranians had never risen before the invention of social media. “The Arab Spring” now being replaced by the “Arab Autumn” or even “Winter”, as if revolutions could ever be expressed in terms of fucking seasons, as if we were sleeping and awoke like some sort of natural process, what are we, fruits or something? Pardon my language my sweet friend, but condescension irks me and I’ve never been one to shut up.
It has been a long time since we’ve started my beloved, and we are tired, yet the road up ahead seems even more tortuous and long, paved with too many traps for us to comprehend. Some of us decide to retreat, others become suicidal, we lose a few along the way, the sufferings are too much for anyone to bear.
Yet there we still are, despite the tears and the frustration and the tension and the deaths and the threats. Yet we continue, doing what we can, each at its own level, because we owe it to ourselves, to those who died, to those who fight, to those who lost, to those who are too deprived of privilege to attract wide attention to their cases.
This isn’t a Winter, this isn’t a season, this isn’t a moment that shall pass. This is a Revolution, a process, and it shall take its own sweet time.
We’re ready for it.
August 14, 2012 No Comments
If King Hamad won’t listen then he must leave
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — The harsh crackdown on anti-government protests in Bahrain has failed to silence people’s demands for greater rights, a senior Shiite cleric in the Gulf kingdom said Friday as thousands of opposition supporters rallied on the outskirts of the capital.
The latest demonstration was staged by people who say they were unfairly fired from their jobs simply for being members of the island nation’s Shiite community, which led the months of protests. Thousands of Shiite professionals accused of having a role in the protests have been fired from their jobs.
Shiites make up a majority of Bahrain’s people, but they have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the country’s ruling Sunni dynasty and a lack of economic opportunities.
A police helicopter flew over the large demonstration, which was backed by Bahrain’s biggest opposition party, Al Wefaq. The crowd chanted slogans against Bahrain’s 200-year-old Sunni monarchy. Some protesters demanded their jobs back and others urged opposition leaders not to compromise with the monarchy.
“Our revolution will continue,” the protesters chanted. They warned the rulers: “If you don’t want to listen then you have to leave.”
Bahrain is a strategically important nation in the Persian Gulf and is the home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.
The U.S. has appealed to its ally to listen to protesters’ demands for more political freedoms, but a government-led national dialogue produced no compromise with the Shiite opposition, which only had token representation at the talks.
Bahrain’s senior Shiite cleric, Sheik Isa Qassim, said the “politics of fear” and the Sunni rulers’ refusal to reform has strengthened the resolve of Shiites.
“Those who refuse to reform and continue to ignore the people’s demands for rights should know that the masses will not submit to despots,” the cleric said during Friday’s sermon in the opposition stronghold of Diraz, northwest of the capital, Manama.
More than 30 people have died since February when protests inspired by other Arab uprisings began in Bahrain.
Hundreds of activists have been detained and brought to trial on anti-state charges in a special security court.
Bahrain lifted emergency rule in June. Since then, government opponents have clashed with police almost every night.
Friday’s protest dispersed peacefully, although groups of opposition supporters marched to Manama’s Pearl Square, the heavily guarded former epicenter of Bahrain’s uprising.
September 11, 2011 No Comments
Editorial Board Opinion – Washington Post
Bahrain needs U.S. attention now
By Editorial, Friday, September 9, 6:57 PM
BAHRAIN HAS BECOME the hidden story of the Arab Spring. While the popular uprisings in Libya, Syria and Yemen have dominated the news in recent months, far less attention has been paid to the tiny but strategic Persian Gulf emirate, which hosts the U.S. 5th Fleet. That’s partly because Bahrain’s ruling al-Khalifa family deflected criticism from the massive crackdown it launched in March by promising to initiate a dialogue with its opposition and implement political reforms. The regime, however, hasn’t delivered — and now it is risking a new explosion of unrest that could destabilize not just Bahrain but the region around it.
The latest trouble began with the promised National Dialogue, which unraveled soon after it began in July. The government gave the largest opposition party five out of the assembly’s 300 seats and left some crucial reform issues — such as the reform of parliamentary districts — off the agenda. Most of the opposition walked out before the “dialogue” concluded with several minor recommendations. One of them would increase the powers of the regime’s principal hard-liner, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who has been in office since 1971.
Another conciliatory initiative, a commission to investigate the unrest, has been undermined by the behavior of its Egyptian chairman, who has made public statements preemptively exonerating the ruling family. A promise to rehire thousands of workers fired from their state jobs because of their suspected support for the opposition has been only partly fulfilled. And while some political prisoners have been released — a group of doctors were freed this week after they and other prisoners staged a hunger strike — hundreds remain jailed and the regime continues to use a “court of national safety” to imprison opposition leaders.
Rather than moving toward reconciliation, Bahrain is more polarized than ever, and the fault line increasingly falls between the ruling Sunni elite and majority Shiite population. Clashes between protesters and police occur almost every night in Shiite villages, and the Aug. 31 death of a 14-year-old boy who the opposition says was struck by a tear gas canister has magnified the tension. Thoughtful Bahrainis worry that a new eruption of mass protests is imminent and that it may lead to a purely sectarian conflict that could spread to Saudi Arabia and even Iraq.
The United States has considerable leverage in Bahrain — through the 5th Fleet, military aid programs and a free-trade agreement. But the Obama administration has been timid here as elsewhere during the Arab Spring. In May, President Obama made a strong statement about Bahrain during a speech on the Middle East in which he promised to support the cause of democratic change across the region. But there has been no follow-up; no senior U.S. officials have visited Bahrain in months, and the administration has had nothing to say about the deteriorating situation. This is shortsighted: If Bahrain blows up, vital U.S. interests will be at risk. The administration should use its influence now — before the crisis resumes. …source
September 9, 2011 No Comments
August 13, 2011 No Comments
Reconciliation in Bahrain still faces obstacles
National Editorial – Aug 9, 2011
Six months after demonstrations in the Pearl Roundabout degenerated into violence, Bahrain is still troubled by regular street protests. The crackdown on the opposition and subsequent reconciliation efforts have so far failed to restore complete calm, much less heal the deep political divisions.
There have been efforts. In the past week, an international commission investigating the violence has made some progress. Two former MPs from the opposition Al Wefaq party were set free on Sunday, among 41 prisoners who reportedly have been released.
In the worst of the violence, there was wrongdoing on both sides. But there will be no reconciliation possible unless security forces are held to account. The commission, appointed by King Hamad Al Khalifa, has indicated its readiness to investigate regime loyalists, visiting Al Gareen prison to interview prisoners from the opposition and arresting police officers on charges of torturing detainees. This investigation needs to show its evenhandedness if it is to resolve the bloodshed.
But even that is just a starting point. There needs to be a distinction between investigating the crimes of the recent protests and the fundamental process of reform that was at issue in the first place. It remains clear that only a political solution can provide for Bahrain’s future.
For decades, Bahrainis have been negotiating issues including fairness in housing and land allotments, political prisoners, representation in parliament and the constitution. The February protests began as a peaceful, cross-sectarian movement to address these issues. The subsequent violence, encouraged radical elements on both sides and aggravation of the Shiite-Sunni split has only made a resolution more difficult.
The National Blogs
Last month a national dialogue that was supposed to begin the reconciliation process ended in a walk-out by Al Wefaq, the only opposition group that attended. It was a disappointing, predictable conclusion: the forum was inordinately skewed towards regime loyalists, the agenda precluded important issues that needed to be addressed and proceedings were closed to the public.
As much as anything else, it is the lack of debate that is unproductive. A high-profile trial of editors at the opposition newspaper Al Wasat has symbolised the clampdown on discussion; the state-run media is widely distrusted.
Bahrainis across the divide need to be part of any reconciliation process. Everyone lost in the recent unrest. …source
August 12, 2011 No Comments
Bahrain: Revolution re-invigorated as Bissiouni’s committee discredited
Bahrain Freedom Movement – 05/08/2011 – 4:56
Concern is rising for the health of the two women detainees; Jalila Al Salman and Dr Rola Al Saffar, who had started yesterday hunger strike to protest their continued detention without trial. They were part of the medical staff who were targeted by the Saudi occupiers when they invaded the country.
They were badly tortured by the Saudi and Al Khalifa officials who targeted doctors and nurses for treating injured Bahrainis. The hunger strike has become an international issue with several human rights bodies expressing concern and calling for their release. Amnesty International issued a statement expressing concern at the whole issue: “”Amnesty International is concerned that they are being held solely because they took part in protests, in which case they would both be prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally.” Frontline which defends human rights defenders said: “Front Line is deeply concerned for the safety and well being of Mrs Jalila Al Salman, vice president of the Bahrain Teacher’s Society and Mrs. Rula Al Saffar Assistant Professor at the College of Health Sciences and the Head of Bahrain Nursing Society, following reports received today that they have gone on hunger strike in protest at their continuing torture and ill treatment while in custody”.
Meanwhile, the Bahraini revolution has continued unabated. For the past few days, the people have protested in various parts of the country, calling for a regime change and demanding an immediate end to the Saudi occupation. Last night, the people of Bani Jamra staged their protest as the regime’s forces waged relentless attacks on the people, using chemical and tear gas weapons to subdue the youth. The regime’s thugs attacked the Bahrainis causing many injuries, some of which were horrendous. The people of Dair also went on protest but were also attacked mercilessly by the Al Khalifa mercenaries. The people are also calling for the right to self-determination. Disproportionate amounts of chemical and tear gas were used against the people. Some were hurled inside the houses to ensure maximum injuries. Similar demonstrations were held yesterday at Bilad Al Qadeem, Sitra and Mhazza. The youth have become more emboldened to stage these demonstrations under the eyes of the occupiers. A new feeling of nationalism is now motivating the youth to undertake daring steps to ensure the liberation of their land from the Saudi occupation. On Wednesday 3rd August, the people of Duraz demonstrated in support of the detained leaders who had been severely tortured. It has now been confirmed that the dictator’s son, Nasser had been involved in torturing the detainees directly. Sheikh Mohammad Habib Al Miqdad was one of his victims.
Few days ago Isa Ahmad Al Taweel, 50, was martyred as a result of an attack by chemical weapons that caused him to suffocate. His funeral was also attacked and more injuries were reported. The cases of these deaths have been reported to the Al Khalifa-appointed committee of investigation. Headed by Charif Bissiouni, the committee has been condemned as a tool to cover the crimes of the dictator and his sons. Yesterday, Bissiouni failed his neutrality test when he attempted to whitewash the dictator and his eldest son by describing them as democrats. He has ignored their role in the suppression and torture of Bahrainis. Moreover, there are authenticated reports that Bissiouni himself had reported some of the victims who presented their cases to him to the dictator. These victims have been betrayed by the discredited royal commission. Calls have been made by notable human rights activists for the more neutral members of the committee to resign lest their reputation be smeared more. It is now clear, especially after their visit to the torture chambers, that they have failed to make any difference to the plight of the victims. Attacks on demonstrators have become more tense and torture has not ceased. The committee has failed even to achieve the repeal of the notorious Law 56, decreed by the dictator to give immunity to those involved in torture. Bahrainis are insisting that only an independent fact-finding mission from the office of the UN Human Rights Commissioners, could establish some of the facts and expose the crimes of the Saudi and Al Khalifa crimes. Bissiouni’s commission has already decided to whitewash the Al Khalifa dictators, killers and torturers.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
5th August 2011
August 6, 2011 No Comments
US distances it’s self from inspired “Arab Spring”, blow-back stews as Obama’s inspirational words of hope return with a scourge for Bahrain
‘Bahrain regime – lose-lose situation’
Interview Syed Ali Wasif, Professor of International Law and Politics. PressTV
There were expectations that the Bahraini regime would make changes, some concessions, and try to work with the opposition. Are those expectations being met?
Press TV interviews Syed Ali Wasif, Professor of International Law and Politics, about the revolution in Bahrain and the Saudi role in the regime clampdown on the people of Bahrain.
Press TV What about this, Mr. Wasif our guest said he would have thought that the regime would have tried to make some changes. Why didn’t the regime try to work at all with the opposition? Did they think that by not working together, that the opposition was basically going to go away? How do you see the line that Bahraini government has taken in all of this?
Wasif Simply bad intentions, the government of Bahrain is not sincere with its people, with the opposition, and with the international community. The only thing that the government of Bahrain did, in the name of reform, was a sham reform, and to let out the pressure from within, and from outside.
It was the international pressure from international human rights groups, international human rights organizations, from the international community, so that is why they allowed some kind of demonstrations today, and earlier.
They release couple of prisoners, but still how could you have reforms, or meaningful dialogue, without the presence of the leadership of mainly al-Wafaq and other opposition groups?
Secondly in the presence of the military intervention of the Saudi occupying forces. And thirdly without giving a huge share of political space to the opposition, in Bahrain, so I think that is totally sham.
And the Bahraini government seems to be buying some more time in order to ease some tensions, in order to ease the pressure it has been going through for a while.
Press TV Let me jump in here, you said ; they are trying to buy some more time, buying more time to accomplish what with this type of tactic that is being used?
Wasif Buying time to accomplish – to crush the opposition, to appease the American government, and the White House Administration, to appease the international organizations, especially human rights organizations, and that is how they are doing it.
The problem is, they basically are under the pressure from the US Congress and the US different departments. I am asking the US departments and the US Congress that if they allowed the Polish Catholic clerical intervention in the movement for democracy in Poland, and in Nicaragua, why are they wary of the involvements of the Bahraini clerics in this movement? It has nothing to do with a negative aspect there.
So if they could allow Catholic clergy to participate in politics in the Philippines, in Nicaragua, in Poland, then why are the Americans wary about the participation, and involvement of the clerics in Bahrain? So that is why I think the Bahraini government is taking advantage of, and trying to buy more time for that.
Press TV What about that – that Washington is basically reassessing their priorities, not only in Bahrain, but it appears that in countries where the Arab revolutions are in progress, now the protestors more and more are chanting anti US slogans, and demanding Washington to stop interfering in their affairs. However, it was not the case at the beginning of any of these revolutions. Why do you think that is the case right now?
Wasif Paranoia, the specific mind set of the White House administration, which sees different events in different parts of the Middle East, with a specific goggle, with a specific perspective, that is the perspective of supporting despotic dictatorial and brutal regimes in that region.
So this is the main focus of those sitting in the White House, and the aides to the White House – to the President of the US.
Press TV What about the people themselves I am talking about, at the beginning of these revolutions, even we saw in Egypt, we see in Yemen, and Libya, and Bahrain.
That at the beginning the people really did not start off with anti-American slogans, but more and more in all these movements, we are starting to hear more and more anti-American slogans. Why do you think that is the case?
Wasif Simply, every now and then I meet with the so called “specialist on the Middle East” here, in the Washington D. C. area. They don’t know the language of the region, they have never been to that region, they do not know the political dynamics of that region, and still they are recognize as an expert in the Middle Eastern affairs.
So is the case with Obama aides, and different administration people there in the Obama Administration and the White House as well. This is the problem, they cannot conceive a Middle East without the support of a dictator.
And that is why in the short run they are doing okay, but in the long run, it’s a total loss-loss, situation, to the US foreign policy and to the US national interests in that region.
July 30, 2011 No Comments
Bahrain dialogue to bring reform, release of prisoners and justice to a people wronged or a revolution?
Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (VIII): Bahrain’s Rocky Road to Reform
Middle East Report N°111 28 Jul 2011
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Following a spasm of violence, Bahrain faces a critical choice between endemic instability and slow but steady progress toward political reform. The most sensible way forward is to launch a new, genuine dialogue in which the political opposition is fairly represented and to move toward changes that will turn the country into a constitutional monarchy. In order to create an environment in which such talks could succeed, the regime should take immediate steps to address the human rights crisis, including by releasing political leaders jailed for peacefully expressing their views, and reverse the alarming sectarian polarisation that has occurred.
In February and March 2011, Bahrain experienced peaceful mass protests followed by brutal repression, leaving a distressing balance sheet: over 30 dead, mostly demonstrators or bystanders; prominent opposition leaders sentenced to lengthy jail terms, including eight for life; hundreds of others languishing in prison; torture, and at least four deaths in detentions; trials, including of medical professionals, in special security courts lacking even the semblance of due process of law; over 40 Shiite mosques and other religious structures damaged or demolished; the country’s major independent newspaper transformed into a regime mouthpiece; a witch hunt against erstwhile protesters who faced dismissal or worse, based on “loyalty” oaths; serious damage to the country’s economy; a parliament left without its opposition; and much more. More significant for the long term perhaps, the violence further polarised a society already divided along sectarian lines and left hopes for political reform in tatters, raising serious questions about the island’s stability.
The regime – a Sunni monarchy headed by the Al Khalifa family – gave a pseudo-legal cast to the repression it unleashed by issuing a “law of national safety”, emergency legislation that permitted some of the human rights violations listed above. And it enveloped itself in the protective embrace of its neighbours, fellow members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), avowedly to ward off a victory by the perceived proxies of Iran, its own Shiite population.
As the crisis escalated in the second half of February and first half of March, two parallel battles unfolded within the opposing camps: a reformist crown prince wagered his political future on reaching out to a pragmatic segment of the (mostly Shiite) opposition, angering more hard-line regime elements, including the septuagenarian uncle of the king, who is the world’s longest-sitting unelected prime minister. In turn, the largest licensed opposition society, Al-Wifaq, risked alienating its popular base, including many of the protesters gathered at the central Pearl roundabout in Manama, by agreeing to engage in informal, semi-secret talks with the crown prince.
While mostly calling for political reform leading to a constitutional monarchy in the uprising’s early days, protesters steadily began to embrace the more radical demand for the regime’s replacement with a democratic republic, and they began to radiate throughout the capital to bolster this demand. Feeling threatened, the regime lashed back. This spelled the end of talk about dialogue and reform and weakened dialogue’s main protagonists. Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad appears marginalised within the royal family, at least for the time being; Al-Wifaq is struggling to hold onto its popular base, as it seeks to keep reform prospects alive while opposition leaders remain in jail and repression continues. …more
July 28, 2011 No Comments