FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Malinowski Affair

by

Bahrain has ordered a top US diplomat visiting the island to leave the country after he met leaders of the main Shia opposition party. The government said that the US assistant secretary for human rights, Tom Malinowski, was “unwelcome” and he should end his official three-day visit to Bahrain “due to his interference in its internal affairs”.

Sheikh Ali Salman and Khalil al-Marzouq, the leaders of the al-Wifaq opposition party, were summoned to meet the public prosecutor for interrogation today about what they discussed with Mr Malinowski. The US State Department said that at the last minute the Bahraini authorities had demanded that a member of its foreign ministry attend all private “meetings with individuals and groups representing a broad spectrum of Bahraini society, including those held at the US embassy”.

A State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, sounded surprised at the turn of events, saying the Bahrain government was “well aware that US government officials routinely meet all officially recognised political societies.”

By deliberately provoking a diplomatic incident out of an unexceptional prearranged visit by a senior US diplomat, the ruling al-Khalifa royal family is giving the impression that it continues to be split over how to respond to the democratic protests by the Shia majority that started in 2011. The demonstrations were brutally crushed, with many arrests and widespread torture of any critics of the government, but repression has failed to stop rallies and protests in Shia districts of Bahrain.

The US and Britain have been embarrassed by charges of hypocrisy stemming from their mild reaction to the suppression of all dissent by the Sunni monarchy in Bahrain compared to their forthright condemnation of President Bashar al-Assad for human rights abuses.

Bahrain has been seeking through a public-relations exercise to persuade the rest of the world that life on the island has returned to normal. In May, Prince Andrew was to be the keynote speaker at a London conference celebrating Bahrain as a place of religious freedom and tolerance of divergent opinions, but he pulled out after criticism of his support for the Bahraini government. During a visit to the island earlier in the year, he said: “I believe that what’s happening in Bahrain is a source of hope for many people in the world and a source of pride for Bahrainis.”

As the confrontation between Sunni and Shia gets increasingly bitter and more violent across the Islamic world after the military success of virulently anti-Shia Isis in Iraq and Syria, Bahrain is likely to be affected. Ali al-Aswad, a former MP and spokesman for al-Wifaq, said the order for Mr Malinowski to leave showed that those opposed to reform and reconciliation within the al-Khalifa family were prevailing.

Bahrain has pursued a policy of presenting itself as open to political reform but at the same time suppressing media reporting. While downplaying protests in Shia villages as insignificant, it has jailed or brought criminal charges against four photographers. Others have been sacked by their newspapers, allegedly on government orders.

Hussain Hubail, who won an award for his pictures of anti-government protests, was sentenced to five years in jail after he was arrested while boarding a flight to Dubai. His mother told Human Rights Watch that he had told her he was blindfolded and handcuffed after his arrest and exposed to cold temperatures for long periods until he signed a confession. The security forces’ campaign against photographers appears to be aimed at suppressing pictures of continuing anti-government demonstrations.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the author of  Muqtada: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq.

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail