News / Middle East

HRW: Bahrain Not Ready for National Dialogue

Human Rights Watch: Bahrain Not Ready for National Dialoguei
X
Scott Stearns
July 17, 2014 4:26 PM
Human Rights Watch says Bahrain's expulsion of a senior State Department official last week shows the kingdom is not serious about political reforms. The human rights group also is criticizing the Obama administration's response. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has more.

Human Rights Watch says Bahrain's expulsion of a senior State Department official last week shows the kingdom is not serious about political reforms. The human rights group also is criticizing the Obama administration's response.

As part of efforts to encourage reforms promised following 2011 protests in Manama, the State Department sent its top human rights official, Tom Malinowski, to Bahrain last week. He was expelled from the Gulf kingdom, though, after he refused to allow authorities to join his meeting with opposition leaders.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Secretary of State John Kerry called Bahrain's foreign minister to protest the expulsion.

"We were very clear that we found some of the requests issued by the government of Bahrain to be inappropriate and contravening international diplomatic norms and conventions," she said. "We also have an important relationship with the government of Bahrain. We've made our concerns known."

'Inadequate' response

A big part of that important relationship is having Bahrain as the base for U.S. Navy operations in the Persian Gulf and parts of the Indian Ocean. That has contributed to what Sarah Margon of Human Rights Watch calls an "inadequate" response by the U.S.

"The U.S. needs to take much stronger measures and show that the ouster of Malinowski is not only problematic in the near-term but problematic in the long-term for our own national security interests," she said.

Margon said Bahrain's demand to monitor Malinowski's meeting with opposition leaders shows it is not serious about reform.

"It's completely arbitrary and it's very worrisome and shows that Bahrain isn't really ready to conduct a national dialogue. It's not interested," she said.

Political reform focus

A Bahraini government statement said Malinowksi was interfering in its internal affairs. That explanation is far different from the government refusing political reforms, according to former U.S. ambassador to Bahrain Adam Ereli.

"That doesn't mean that somehow the Bahraini government is walking away from the dialogue process," he said. "It may be that they are just concerned about the United States playing a helpful or not-helpful role. I think it says more about the Bahraini government's attitude towards and position towards the United States than it does towards the opposition."

Ereli believes it is more a question of the Obama administration's approach to the kingdom.

"They're happy to work with people who they think are trying to be helpful," he said. "But if they think they are not trying to be helpful they're not going to hesitate to do what any sovereign state would do which is to say: Thanks but no thanks. Bye-bye."

Margon said the expulsion is troubling at a time when she says Washington is not taken as seriously in the region as it needs to be.

"Bahrain is definitely stuck in a larger geopolitical situation, which makes it very difficult not only for the reformers I would say within the Bahraini government to have any real leverage, but also it puts the U.S. certainly in a tight spot," she said.

Meanwhile, Washington is calling on all sides in Bahrain to recommit to the reconciliation process.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John diamond from: Bahrain
July 19, 2014 12:52 AM
The Shia's and Sunnis are not able together, it seems that the American Administration would know that, and hopefully, some of the American public realizes that now. Bahrain is no different, the Shias want more than "democracy," they want the Sunnis dead. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait all face this issue. I have yet to see a proposal that can have these two groups live together, peacefully, without a strong leader. It has not been the case for 1,400 years.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid