Friday, June 10, 2011

Ramping up the Pressure

No time to write today or perhaps this weekend, but since today seems to have brought many interesting Bahrain stories, I thought I could quickly post a few:
  • Toby Jones in The Atlantic joins a growing if still probably non-influential group of people calling for the removal of the Bahrain-based U.S. Fifth Fleet. He actually goes a step further, though, to call for its wholesale dissolution.

  • Al-Jazeera English (not to be confused with the real Al-Jazeera) continues coverage of the Ludo Hood affair, with some details that seem to be new.

    Speaking of Al-Jazeera, the pro-governments seem to be getting increasingly annoyed with its coverage of Bahrain--which while I was in Doha a month ago was non-existent, so it's difficult to see what their problem is. This article in the pro-government "Bahrain Independent" (the same folks who "broke" the Ludo Hood conspiracy) discusses "The False Friend: Qatar, Al-Jazeera, and Terrorism."

  • The New York Times has a piece on the Obama Administration's attempt to revive the dead political career of Crown Prince Salman, whom it says is being "cultivated" as a moderate leader of political reform in Bahrain. Sadly, I think the article is much too sanguine about the chances of this happening given the forces stacked against him within the Al Khalifa, but it's a good read anyway.

  • Finally, and of most direct interest, is this partial summary in the Washington Post of another provocative Friday sermon of Sh. 'Isa Qasim, who seems to be losing his patience with the government. Earlier there were statements to the effect that worshipers would be bussed to al-Diraz from other parts of Bahrain to hear the sermon (not that they would make it past the checkpoints), a way of saying to the government, "What? you think we can't get people back into the streets?" The Arabic transcript of the sermon, titled "Refusing Shi'i Existence/Presence," is now available on opposition forums. Audio is here. The video is finally here as well:

    Part of the frustration--you know, apart from the security crackdown, mass arrests, attacks on religious processions, dismissals from work, etc.--comes as a result of the government's decision this week to ban a long-standing seminar series held by al-Wifaq that is open to the public and discusses various political and social issues.

    In response, al-Wifaq has joined Sh. 'Isa Qasim in taking it up a notch, organizing not just a seminar but an entire "festival of sermons" titled "Everyone's Homeland" for 5:00pm tomorrow, Saturday, at the Grand Saar Ma'tam, headlined by Sh. 'Ali Salman. The Twitter announcement from al-Wifaq links to the following advertisement:

    (Update: the event was allowed to go ahead and seems to have had a decent turnout.)
Update: the Washington Post also has this longish interview with Bahraini Foreign Minister Sh. Khalid, apparently in town with the crown prince.

More: Salon Magazine has an article about the D.C. law firm hired by the Al Khalifa to refute the unlawful firing complaint brought against them by the AFL-CIO.

And we can't forget our friend Yusif Al Bin Khalil, whose column today in Al-Watan makes the bold prediction that "we expect increased pressure on Bahrain by Western governments and international organizations in the coming months." Ya think?

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