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19th June 2012


Bahrain puts boy aged 11 on trial for alleged role in roadblock protest
At a time when most 11-yearold boys are looking forward to the school holidays, Ali Hasan is preparing for his trial. On Wednesday morning the primary school pupil from suburban Manama will stand in a Bahrain court and listen as the case against him is spelt out. The prosecution case: that Ali helped protesters block a street with rubbish containers and wood during demonstrations last month. Ali's defence: that he's a child who was just playing with friends in the street. "On the day before I was arrested there was some fighting in the streets near my house between the demonstrators and the police," Ali told the Guardian by phone from his home in the Bilad al-Qadeem suburb. "The demonstrators had blocked the street by setting fire to tyres and using containers in which people dispose of their rubbish. "The day after this I went to the street with two of my friends to play. It was around 3pm. While we were playing there, some police forces came towards us which made us panic. My friends managed to run away but I was so scared by the guns they were carrying that I couldn't move and I was arrested." Read More combat forces and the world nervously eyes Iran, according to a congressional report.

Bahrain: a special case among the Arab spring uprisings

Bahrain's government is often accused of human rights abuses but responds by invoking legitimate security concerns about maintaining law and order. The Gulf island state is a special case in the context of the uprisings of the Arab spring. King Hamad Al Khalifa is seen by western governments as a valued ally who plays host to the US Fifth Fleet and is close to Saudi Arabia, the regional powerhouse and the Middle East's biggest oil exporter. But his Sunni dynasty rules over a restive Shia majority

which has experienced sharp polarisation since the Pearl revolution of last year, in which at least 50 people were killed. The government in Manama often blames Iran for fomenting unrest, though there is no evidence of direct involvement. The opposition, dominated by the al-Wefaq movement, says it wants democratic rights and is not pursuing a sectarian Shia agenda, though its supporters are under-represented and face discrimination in all walks of life. The authorities in Manama have mounted an energetic PR offensive to clean up their battered image since last year, when Saudi-led forces intervened to help restore order. Read More The crackdown has altered and sometimes endedthe lives of a wide range of activists and citizens. Last week, for example, a court upheld the guilty verdicts of eleven of the twenty prominent medics arrested for treatingprotesters. Now, just weeks from the London Olympics, another group of Bahrainis faces an uncertain future: athletes. Read More is receiving less attention, however, is the mobilization of counter-revolutionary and reactionary forces opposed to the changes taking place in the region. In this regard, Saudi Arabia's proposal to forge a formal union with Bahrain, a subject that topped the agenda in a summit of the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states in Riyadh last month, warrants a closer look. Read More

US plans significant military presence in Kuwait

The United States is planning a significant military presence of 13,500 troops in Kuwait to give it the flexibility to respond to sudden conflicts in the region as Iraq adjusts to the withdrawal of American

The study by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee examined the U.S. relationship with the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman - against a fast-moving backdrop. Read More as the United States seeks to balance the democratic aspirations unleashed by the Arab Spring with the need to retain consistency in its security partnerships in a strategically vital part of the world. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee report covers America's relationship with the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Read More

London 2012 Calling: But Not for Bahraini Athletes

To say that Bahrain has had a tumultuous year is an understatement. Since protests rst broke out on February 14, 2011, Bahrain has come under increased international scrutiny for the ruling familys brutal response to peaceful demonstrations.

Kerry calls for 'red lines' on human rights as part of US military dealings with Persian Gulf allies
The United States should establish red lines linking military agreements with Persian Gulf allies to respect for human rights, the Senate's top lawmaker on foreign affairs argues in a new report. The recommendation by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) comes

Saudi Arabia-Bahrain union reflects Gulf rivalry

In the new Middle East, formerly suppressed political parties, movements, and ideas are increasingly shaping a political and ideological discourse that departs from previous paradigms. An equally important trend that

Prince Nayef's death makes a big difference in the Middle East

In many ways the repercussions following the death of Crown Prince Nayef, heir to the Saudi throne, are far greater than those that followed the death of his predecessor Prince Sultan nine months ago. Prince Nayef, after all, was heavily involved in various "files" (as foreign political responsibilities are referred to in Arabic) over the past

few decades including Bahrain, Iraq and Yemen. Since his passing, various Saudi media outlets have highlighted these issues The Arab Spring's including the London-based Asharq al-Awsat, a popular Second Bloom newspaper owned by Nayef's nephews. When did the Arab Spring end? Some analysts place it Nayef was a polarising figure in March 2011the start of not least because of the the Arab Winter or the week different ways in which his when the empire struck policies affected the lives of back, in the words of Marc those outside the kingdom's Lynch. And its true that there borders. For instance, while came a point, when Saudi Kuwait and Bahrain both troops marched across the declared a three-day period causeway into Bahrain and of mourning following Nayef's demise, there was a different reaction in some sections of their community. Read More Explaining the reasons for the arrest, Ali Al Buainain, the public prosecutor, said that the defendant had a history of using a specific forum to post blasphemous remarks and whenever he was ejected, he registered under a different pseudonym and continued publishing unacceptable claims. The defendant admitted the charges, saying that his attitude was in retaliation to alleged insults by online users to Shiite figures. Read More attacked homes in Sitra on Monday.

Muammar Qaddafi swore to hunt the dissidents in his country alley by alley, that it became impossible to maintain the heady optimism of the early weeks of the revolutions in the Middle East. The cynicism deepened as the NATO intervention in Libya dragged out through the summer into the fall and civil war erupted in Syria. The Arab Spring wasnt the same after that week in March, but did it end or just change? Read More religiously offensive messages. Twitter has been adopted by many activists in the conservative Gulf States as a means of expressing their dissatisfaction with the current leadership and their unchallenged authority. While attempts to censor the rapidly growing social media trends have had varying degrees of success, arrests and persecution have become common forms of enforcement for those who violate the dictatorship of the ruling monarchies. Read More have become even more flagrant since March 26th 2012.

Bahraini blogger remanded for blasphemous remarks

A Bahraini blogger accused of posting abusive remarks targeting Aisha, the wife of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), has been remanded in custody for another 45 days. The defendant, 19, was arrested last week for posting the highly negative comments in a forum.

Gulf States Persecuting Twitter Users for Politically and Religiously Offensive Messages
Activists in Bahrain and Kuwait are protesting governments move to crack down on Twitter users who take advantage of the platform to broadcast politically extreme and

Bahraini regime forces raid houses in Sitra in search for dissidents

Bahraini regime forces have raided houses in the northeastern island of Sitra in their search for antigovernment demonstrators, making several arrests. A number of people were also injured when the Manama regime forces

Meanwhile, police used tear gas, rubber bullets and sound grenades to disperse protesters in several other towns and villages. The latest crackdown on peaceful protests in Bahrain came a few days after the Bahraini court of appeals sentenced nine doctors to up to five years in prison over charges of involvement in demonstrations against the Al Khalifa regime. Read More

Bahraini police forced a young woman to take off her clothes and filmed her naked by her mobile
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) says there has been no significant improvement in the human rights situation of the kingdom. In its second report published after the Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in November 2011, the center says human rights violations in the Arab state

Violent mass arrests and detentions still happen in Bahrain and in many cases detainees are deprived from access to family and lawyer in first days following arrest, the report says. There is also an escalation in the arrests of human rights defenders, activists and journalists with the latest cases recorded in May 2012 and April 2012 which witnessed 100 cases of arrest and detention alone recorded by the BCHR. Read More