Showing posts for "Bahrain"
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 »
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 »
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 »
During his brief period as Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi sought to suppress criticism by prosecuting citizens for the “crime” of “insulting the president.” In fact he prosecuted more cases than all his predecessors back to King Farouk had done, something I blogged about here critically last January. Read more »
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
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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 »
February 14 will be the anniversary of the date when demonstrations began in Bahrain last year. More demonstrations will mark the date, and violence is feared.
No events connected to the so-called “Arab Spring” have been as depressing as those in Bahrain. The tiny country (only slightly larger than the city of New York) was long viewed as a peaceful and enlightened place, but by the actual Spring of 2011 Bahrain was mired in sectarian divisions, security force violence, and errors and excesses by the government and the opposition, all worsened by the presence of foreign troops from other Gulf Cooperation Council nations. In the end, dozens were killed and communications between the Sunni government and royal family and the Shia majority had broken down. On February 11, this past Saturday, there were more demonstrations and police used tear gas to break some of them up. Read more »
December 16 was Bahrain’s “National Day” and the secretary of state duly released a congratulatory statement. Here it is in its entirety:
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to congratulate the people of Bahrain as you celebrate your National Day. Our two countries have shared a long history of partnership built on mutual interest and mutual respect. The United States values this friendship, rooted in the history of our people-to-people ties dating back to the early years of the 20th century. We look forward to working closely with the Government of Bahrain and all Bahrainis on the important endeavor of building a prosperous, secure, and peaceful future for your nation. Read more »
The report this week by the international commission on Bahrain represents the royal family’s, and that nation’s, last chance. If the conclusions of the report do not lead to compromise and reform, the future holds instability, violence, and in the end the demise of al-Khalifa rule. Read more »
Pressure Points tracks developments in the Middle East and democratization and human rights issues globally.