This year, Arab political Islam will be greatly influenced by U.S. regional policy, as it has been since the Obama administration came into office six years ago. Indeed, as the U.S. standing in the region rose with Obama’s presidency beginning in January 2009, so did the fortunes of Arab political Islam.
For a moment, four years ago, it seemed that dictators in the Middle East would soon be a thing of the past.
President Obama’s speech at the United Nations on Sep. 23 offered a rhetorically eloquent roadmap on how to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Monday’s expulsion order by Bahrain against a visiting senior U.S. official has set back tentative hopes for internal reforms that could reconcile the kingdom’s Sunni-led government with its majority Shia community and drawn a sharp protest from Washington.
The Bahraini Arabic language newspaper al-Wasat reported on Wednesday Apr. 9 that a Cairo court began to consider a case brought by an Egyptian lawyer against Qatar accusing it of being soft on terrorism.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain all recalled their ambassadors from Qatar on Wednesday, citing Qatar's alleged support for organisations and individuals that threaten "the security and stability of the Gulf states" and for “hostile media.”
A few days ago, Bahraini officials announced that they had “foiled an attempt to smuggle explosives and arms, some made in Iran and Syria, into the country by boat.” Around the same time, the government also contended it had defused a car bomb and seized weapons in different locations in the country.
The recent collapse of the British Serious Fraud Office court case against Victor Dahdaleh has left the Bahraini prime minister’s reputation for corruption intact.
While Monday’s meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi King Abdullah may have helped calm the waters, the latest anxieties and anger expressed by Riyadh toward the United States has reignited debate here about the value of the two countries’ long-standing alliance.
Bahraini opposition groups announced on Tuesday their opposition to participating in the dialogue that is supposed to start tomorrow. According to the Bahrain Mirror, the five opposition groups that signed the joint statement included al-Wifaq, Wa’d, al-Minbar, al-Tajammu’, and al-Ikha’.
The lengthy prison sentences handed down to 50 Shia activists last week and the refusal of Bahraini courts to hear their allegations of torture once again confirm the regime’s continued repression of the opposition.
On Aug. 14, the 42nd
anniversary of Bahrain’s independence from Britain, an online group called Tarmarod (“rebellion” in Arabic) officially joined Bahrain’s democracy movement that began in February 2011.
The special session of the Bahraini National Assembly held on Sunday Jul. 28 was a spectacle of venom, a display of vulgarity, and an unabashed nod to increased dictatorship.
In May 2011, almost a year and half after a Tunisian street vendor’s self-immolation sparked waves of revolution still rocking the Middle East, Bahraini journalist Nazeeha Saeed was tortured during her 13-hour detention before signing a confession she was not allowed to read.
By continuing its repressive policies and refusing to engage civil society and moderate political groups in meaningful dialogue for genuine reform, the Khalifa family has squandered its legitimate right to rule Bahrain. King Hamad could still salvage his rule, but he would need to act boldly by taking the following steps.