Bahrain receives military equipment from UK despite violent crackdown

Bahrain receives military equipment from UK despite violent crackdown
Britain sold over £1m worth of weapons including rifles and artillery to Gulf kingdom during last year's unrest

Richard Norton-Taylor, Tuesday 14 February 2012 15.49 GMT
Article history

Bahraini security forces in Manama during clashes with protesters. Photograph: Mazen Mahdi/EPA
Britain has continued to sell arms to Bahrain despite continuing political unrest in the Gulf state, new official figures disclose.

According to the figures the government approved the sale of military equipment valued at more than £1m in the months following the violent crackdown on demonstrators a year ago. They included licences for gun silencers, weapons sights, rifles, artillery and components for military training aircraft.

Also cleared for export to Bahrain between July and September last year were naval guns and components for detecting and jamming improvised explosive devices. No export licences were refused.

Security forces in Bahrain fired teargas and stun grenades at protesters in pre-dawn skirmishes before Tuesday's first anniversary of the uprising in the Gulf kingdom. Armoured vehicles patrolled the capital, Manama, in a security clampdown after protesters flung volleys of petrol bombs at police cars. There was also a massive police presence in Shia Muslim villages ringing Manama, with helicopters buzzing overhead, underlining the concerns of the Sunni-Muslim-led monarchy about a new explosion of civil unrest by Bahrain's disgruntled Shia majority.

After the exposure a year ago of Britain's approval of arms sales, including crowd control equipment, guns, and ammunition to Bahrain, Libya and Egypt, the government revoked 158 export licences, including 44 covering military exports to Bahrain.

Isn't it time we backed Bahrain's revolution? New Statesman - 120212.

Isn't it time we backed Bahrain's revolution?
Posted by Sayed Mahdi Al-Modaressi - 12 February 2012 09:05
As the first anniversary of the uprising approaches, it is time for the west to reassess its support for the regime.

Protesters clash with police in Bahrain, 23 December 2011
"The she-camel has been impregnated" goes the old Arabic saying, suggesting a looming (usually disastrous) outcome which is all but inevitable. For the past 12 months, Bahrain's ruling monarchy has tried to abort a pregnancy which began in the frenzy of the Arab Spring - but the foetus has proved too mature. The country's mass uprising which began a year ago, on 14 February 2011, was the result of many decades of abuse.

Medieval-style absolutist rule in this island nation was never going to last forever, but the regime's stubbornly uncompromising approach to the Bahraini people's grievances is ensuring an accelerated downfall for the Al Khalifa family's 230-year old dynasty. A year on since the uprising began, just after that in Egypt, and despite the brutal crackdown, the prognosis for the Bahraini regime is bleaker than ever.

Three months after the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report found a systematic policy of abuse, torture and discrimination on the basis of sectarian affiliation, the regime of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah has failed to implement any tangible reforms to satisfy the opposition. The government's well-documented brutality, coupled with a sense of hopelessness, has resulted in an escalation of protests and almost total loss of authority over several key areas of the small Gulf kingdom. Townships such as Bani Jamrah (one of the country's fiercest anti-regime hotspots) is completely out of regime control after dark. The key suburb of Sitra, dubbed "capital of the revolution", is also a no-go zone for representatives of the government.

Bahrain and the Arab Spring - Socialist Worker, 050212.

Bahrain and the Arab Spring

The small island nation of Bahrain sits in the Persian Gulf, between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. When the Tunisian and Egyptian uprising toppled U.S.-backed dictators last year, all of the region's dictatorships trembled, including Bahrain. The winds of change inspired Bahrain's downtrodden, and the country's monarchy barely managed to maintain its grip on power.

Here we carry an interview with Ahmed Mohammed, a Bahraini activist on the situation in his country.

CAN YOU talk about how the movement in Bahrain unfolded last February? Why did thousands of people come out to Pearl Square in Bahrain's capital of Manama?

THE PROTESTS had originally aimed to make the government fulfill the promises of the king. These promises were made in a referendum the king put to the people in 2001. The referendum offered us a bargain--turn Bahrain into a kingdom and the emir into a king, and in return, the dreaded state of emergency law would be ended, and a parliament with full legislative powers set up. He basically offered what the opposition had been demanding throughout the uprising of the 1990s. The referendum was widely welcomed and approved.

Then the king reneged on his promise. On February 14, 2002, the king announced a new constitution in which he concentrated power in his own hands. The parliament has virtually no legislative powers.

PLEASE support Bahrani teacher jailed & tortured for pro-democracy demonstration

This is one of LabourStart's online campaigns.  You can help save the life of a jailed trade union leader in Bahrain.

Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, President of the Bahraini Teachers Association, must be freed from jail.  Now.

His name is Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb. He's the president of the Bahraini Teachers Association.
And he's in jail because of his trade union activities.

Mahdi's health is rapidly deteriorating and the global union federation for teachers, the Education International, has called for a massive online
campaign of protest.
It will take you just a minute or so to send off your message -- and it might well save Mahdi's life.

[3]Please click here to learn more and to send off your message.

And then -- please forward this message on to your friends, co-workers and fellow trade unionists.

Thanks very much.

Eric Lee_Copyright © 2012 LabourStart, All rights reserved.

Bahrain police clash with mourners Shooting tear gas and stun grenades, security forces clash with opposition protesters outside

Bahrain police clash with mourners
Shooting tear gas and stun grenades, security forces clash with opposition protesters outside of Manama.

Last Modified: 01 Jan 2012 19:27

Silhouettes of family members of Sayed Hashem Saeed are seen as they perform prayers during the funeral [Reuters]
Riot police in Bahrain fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades as they clashed with hundreds of opposition supporters following the politically charged funeral of a 15-year-old boy.

Thousands of opposition supporters carrying Bahraini flags and chanting anti-government slogans converged on Sunday on the island of Sitra, south of the capital Manama, to mourn the death of Sayed Hashim Saeed.

Police earlier tried to seal off the site of the funeral to prevent crowds from gathering.

The opposition says the teenager died on Saturday after a tear gas canister fired at close range hit him in the chest.

Jaffer al-Sheik, 40, who identified himself as a relative of Saeed, said after the funeral that the boy died while participating in a protest march.

He said the canister fired by riot police caused burns on Saeed's chest, arm and head.