Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Bahrain"

Accountability in Bahrain

by Elliott Abrams

The continuing crisis in Bahrain is leading to bipartisan Congressional efforts to bring American pressure to bear–and to keep the United States away from involvement in repression there.

Senators Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden, a Republican and a Democrat, have introduced S. 2009, which would bar selling or giving to Bahrain materiel that could be used not for national security but for internal repression: “(1) Tear gas, (2) Small arms, (3) Light weapons, (4) Ammunition for small arms and light weapons, (5) Humvees, (6) Other items that could reasonably be used for crowd control purposes.” Read more »

Guess Who’s Coming to (the GCC) Dinner?

by Elliott Abrams

On May 13 and 14, President Obama will be hosting a summit meeting with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation. The members nations are Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar.

The problem is, it may not exactly be a “summit” meeting at all. Sultan Qaboos of Oman has been ill, as is Sheik Khalifa, president of the UAE. Two down. I imagine the king of Bahrain, King Hamad, will attend, and so will the young Emir of Qatar, Sheik Tamim. Read more »

Bahrain: “Insulting a Public Institution” Means Prison

by Elliott Abrams

Americans who complain about the post office, or more seriously the police, or (God forbid) whoever happens to be president do not expect to be jailed, but Bahrainis do.

This week a leader of the (peaceful) opposition and founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, was sentenced to six months for the crime of “insulting a public institution.” His criminal act was publishing a tweet last September that said, in full, this: Read more »

Danger Ahead in Bahrain

by Elliott Abrams

It has been a while since I wrote about Bahrain, because I’ve always been hopeful that this or that piece of bad news was transitory and that reason would prevail. I’m losing hope.

The basic situation has been clear for several years: the majority of the population, which is Shia, feels deprived of political rights by the royal family, which is Sunni. There have been several efforts to come up with a compromise, especially after the “Arab Spring” began in 2o11. But as The Economist wrote last December, “Human-rights organisations warn that the situation is deteriorating. Two years after an even-handed report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry—a laudable effort by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa—few of its recommendations have been implemented.” That article was entitled “Trouble Ahead: the government is poisoning the well.” Sure enough, the so-called “national dialogue” launched in February 2013 got nowhere and was suspended in January 2014. Read more »

GCC Nations: Protections and Risks

by Elliott Abrams

With the exception of Yemen, the member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council range from prosperous to extremely rich—but they are also vulnerable to security threats from terrorists and from Iran. The gathering in Syria of perhaps 25,000 jihadis, the Iranian nuclear weapons program, and Iranian subversion are the major perils they face, but the risks associated with such challenges are magnified when their major outside ally, the United States, appears determined to reduce its role in the region. Read more »

Iran Continues Subversion Despite the Nuclear Negotiations

by Elliott Abrams

The Obama administration is fighting strongly to prevent Congress from adopting new sanctions legislation that would go into effect one year from now if, and only if, the nuclear negotiations fail or Iran cheats on its commitments. It seems that adopting such legislation would anger the Iranian regime, and would be contrary to the spirit of the talks. Or something like that. Read more »

A Glint of Hope in Bahrain

by Elliott Abrams

Two recent developments suggest that the long stand-off in Bahrain between the royal family and Shia political groups may be  moving toward resolution–or at least a chance of progress.

First, the Saudis appear to have changed their own position. Instead of urging confrontation (and indeed, sending troops to Bahrain), the Saudi royals are said now to favor conciliation. The Financial Times reported this week that
Read more »

Shia Unrest in Saudi Arabia

by Elliott Abrams

Though there is not much Western reporting yet on this phenomenon, Shia unrest in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province appears to be growing.

Two recent reports, including interesting amateur films of demonstrations and some violence, can be found in this Arab web site and buried in the New York Times here. The key question is whether the unrest is over or will spread among Saudi Shia. Read more »