Between May 2011 and May 2015…What will Obama say to the King of Bahrain?

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SHAFAQNA – “Nevertheless, we have insisted both publicly and privately that mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens, and we will — and such steps will not make legitimate calls for reform go away. The only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail. The government must create the conditions for dialogue, and the opposition must participate to forge a just future for all Bahrainis (….) Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain.”Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): “Nevertheless, we have insisted both publicly and privately that mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens, and we will — and such steps will not make legitimate calls for reform go away. The only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail. The government must create the conditions for dialogue, and the opposition must participate to forge a just future for all Bahrainis (….) Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain.”

There have been four years between the May 2011 speech and the foreseen meeting in May 2015. The US relations with its gulf allies have witnessed ups and downs; Bahrain expelled the State Department Official, Tom Malinowski and re-welcomed him later on. It also issued a lengthy prison sentence against two American citizens of Bahraini origins (according to the US department of state) over issues of political backgrounds.

The authorities arrested the leader of the Bahraini opposition and Al-Wefaq Islamic society Secretary-General, Sheikh Ali Salman, besides the prominent human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, who addressed a letter to Obama on 9 April 2015 through The New York Times (The US State of Department demanded twice to release Rajab and drop the charges against him). The authority’s repressive violations against protestors and dissents continued, whereas, the condemnations of the international human rights organizations did not stop since 4 years; a recent Amnesty International report is but a good example of that.

On the other hand, the US administration witnessed several changes throughout the four past years, especially with respect to its approaches in regards to files that disturbed the atmosphere for a long time, from Cuba that was removed from the US terrorist list after 50 years, to Iran that dialogues should be held with in order to figure out solutions leading the strained-from-decades Middle East to less tensed stages.

From his oval office that he will be leaving soon, Obama seeks achievements for his belief that adopts dialogue rather than war in order to meet the interests of US around the world. Obama seems serious in making influential changes with regards to more than one file in the region. He is completely aware of the defects and faults of the Gulf governments and rulers.

“‘The biggest danger is not a possible attack from Iran, but it is the discontent within their countries, the wrath of angry youths and the unemployed and a sense that there is no political way out to their grievances,” President Obama said during an interview with the famous journalist Thomas Friedman on 5 April 2015.

Obama plans to hold a meeting at Camp David with the Gulf rulers on 13-14 May. The main issue of this meeting will be the nuclear deal with Iran and assurance of the gulf allies. However, Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, the journalist, has another point of view, for he said in an interview, on the Egyptian CBC channel, on 10 April 2015, that the Arabs have not noticed till now the great change in the US policy after the nuclear deal with Iran.

Obama will welcome Hamad bin Isa after four years of the former’s diatribe against Bahrain as a result of its crackdown on the popular protests, demolishing the Shiite mosques and imprisoning the political figures. Obama will welcome Hamad while the latter is keeping Al-Wefaq Secretary-General, whom Obama’s government demanded that of Bahrain to hold talks with, in prison. What will Obama say to the King of Bahrain?

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