News / Middle East

Violence Intensifies as Bahrain Awaits Peace Talks

Bahraini pro-democracy protesters wave signs, pictures of prisoners and people killed in three years of unrest, Abu Saiba, west of Manama, March 21, 2014.
Bahraini pro-democracy protesters wave signs, pictures of prisoners and people killed in three years of unrest, Abu Saiba, west of Manama, March 21, 2014.
Phillip Walter Wellman
At the beginning of 2014 there was new hope in Bahrain that a political consensus might finally be reached to help end the country’s three-year-long civil conflict.

The crown prince met directly with opposition leaders in January, the first meeting since pro-democracy protests erupted in 2011.

While the gesture aroused hopes that national reconciliation talks could be revived, two months later no discussions have taken place, and deadly violence has risen to a level not seen since the height of the uprising.

Now, a fourth attempt to stage successful peace talks in Bahrain is in the works.

According to organizers, all parties to the talks have listed issues of importance to them, and a final agenda is being compiled that should result in some progress.

The opposition previously argued that the dialogue was flawed from the start, and designed to prevent meaningful change to the way power is structured and exercised in Bahrain. Those who spoke out also complained about the lack of royal participation.

The government says that when talks restart, a greater number of senior officials will be present.

But as officials push ahead with their plans, many Bahrainis have become disillusioned with the drawn-out process.

"There’s a question to what extent even the political representatives of Bahraini society can now claim to speak for the constituents that they represent," says Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a research fellow from Rice University in the United States. "That goes for government-backed organizations as well as the opposition."

At the same time, as active participation in organizations across the political spectrum declines, the small island nation has seen a growing radicalization.

Salman al-Jalahma, speaking for Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority, says the threat of violence is not only becoming more prevalent, but also more extreme.

"The Ministry of Interior has been uncovering 'sleeper cells' - more and more of them in the past few months — 'sleeper cells' that [contain] weapons intended for mass destruction," he said. "In the last three or four months [there has been a] heavy use of militant guerrilla warfare, and it’s been the first time since last year that the number of real bombs far outnumber the number of fake bombs across the country."

A bomb blast earlier this month killed three police officers in a village west of the capital, Manama, and last month an officer was fatally wounded in an explosion on the third anniversary of the country's Shi’ite-led uprising.

Despite the rise in violence, Bahraini opposition groups say the government must make big changes in its domestic-security policy if national dialogue is to succeed.

Police are said to routinely target innocent civilians and use tear gas indiscriminately in Shi’ite neighborhoods, and opposition activists say Bahrain is holding more than 3,000 political prisoners.

Abdul Jalil Khalil Ebrahim, speaking for the main opposition party al-Wefaq, met with the crown prince in January. Events since then, he says, have made him doubtful that reconciliation talks can succeed.
 
"You can’t move with the political approach and at the same time use the same security measures," he said. "Once you stop the security measures, you pave the road for the political approach to move ahead."

Ebrahim says the government’s tactics fuel radical action rather than curtail it.

"You see, the people, their relatives, are either arrested or killed or sacked from their business," he said. "You can’t control the youth. You can’t control their reaction. The only solution for such things is to start with a genuine political dialogue. If no hope, Bahrain will go nowhere."

Apart from their complaints about discrimination, Bahrain’s majority Shi’ites say they should have greater rights and benefits. Only if the Sunni monarchy acts on their demands, Shi'ite leaders say, can democratic reform move forward. Government officials say they expect the national dialogue to resume very shortly.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: AB from: Bahrain
March 22, 2014 1:59 AM
The context is intertwined. The same politicians cited in this article use violence as a means to leverage their position. Notice how violence (terrorism) is justified. The opposition model we have in Bahrain is a replica of the one in Lebanon. Namely Hezbulla. Supported by Iran. It's sectarian, xenophobic, and radical. What they ask for is not greater or more democracy although that is the tagline. They ask for a system that can be manipulated by the Ayatollahs where ballots contain candidates blessed (dictated) by them. We witnessed this in Bahrain over the last 12 years in constituencies. This would cause a sectarian disaster it were on an national scale.
you'll hear catchy phrases and stories aimed to appeal to the West in order to garner support for what seems right. Although, the story is much different where there is a complex mixture of history,religion, and culture that is unique and requires thorough understanding before judgment is made.


by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
March 21, 2014 10:35 PM
The main problem in Bahrain Royal Family is not willing people participation in Govt affairs. They want to pass luxury life at the cost of Bahraini people. They do not want assets distribution to poor peoples. If you compare how many PALACES they have in Bahrain and outside Bahrain and what is the standard of life for common Bahraini,big difference. Royal Family cannot tollerate any critisum on their bad policies. Bahrain assets for every one. Royal Family wants 90% shareholding in Bahrain asset and 10% share by all Bahraini peoples. RF(ROYAL FAMILY) do not want freedom in media.Bahraini peoples feel suffocation in their life. If any body critisice RF, then he/she will loose job and business. RF policies against the public welfare. RF wants maximum luxury for their ENTIRE family but hopeless life for common Bahraini.


by: 73 from: Bahrain
March 21, 2014 9:46 PM
VOA, please tell America that our problems are bring about by Iran. We have here IRGC and Hizbullah killing and calling for the destruction of our country. The Irony here is that we have invited them here to protect them from atrocities by their own people against them. now we are paying the price of generosity - they are killing us here in our own country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid