The POMED Wire

State Department Reports on Bahrain’s Implementation of the BICI

The State Department submitted to Congress an unclassified report on the steps taken by the Government of Bahrain to implement the recommendations in the 2011 Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) on June 21, 2016. The report was required by the FY16 Omnibus appropriations bill that was enacted on December 18, 2015, and due to be submitted to Congress on February 1, 2016. The report was released 141 days late, amid an escalating crackdown on dissenting voices, opposition figures, and the Shi’a religious community in Bahrain.  The full text of the report is available here.

The November 2011 BICI report outlined specific recommendations for the Government of Bahrain to move from a period of unrest following the popular uprising of 2011 into national reconciliation and reform. The recommendations of the BICI report included the release of political prisoners, reinstatement of dismissed workers and students, creation of independent institutions to provide oversight over the security forces, reconstruction of destroyed Shi’a mosques, integration of the security forces, and the establishment of an independent national commission to implement the BICI recommendations.

The State Department report cites Congressional language requiring the report  to describe “the specific steps taken by the …

Kuwaiti MP Convicted for Anti-Saudi Statements

The Kuwaiti National Assembly sentenced in absentia outspoken lawmaker and lawyer Abdul Hamid Dashti to 10 days in prison pending further investigation and trial by Kuwait’s top criminal court, at which point Dashti could face a longer sentence. The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed against Dashti by the Saudi Embassy for comments the lawmaker made about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria. According to the Public Prosecutor, three new complaints have been brought against Dashti in recent weeks, bringing the total number of complaints against Dashti to nine. In March of this year, Dashti’s parliamentary immunity was stripped for repeatedly defaming Saudi Arabia, leaving the lawmaker vulnerable to imprisonment and other criminal charges.

Dashti has long been a critic of the Saudi government’s intervention in the 2011 uprising in Bahrain and support of the al-Khalifa ruling family, the ongoing military intervention in Yemen’s civil war, and propagation of “terrorism” in Syria – Dashti is a supporter of Syrian President Assad, not the Saudi-backed rebel forces. These comments over the years have place Dashti at risk of arrest both at home and abroad.

Under Kuwaiti law, any individual convicted of a hostile attack against a …

Hearing Notes – U.S. Policy in Libya

On June 15, 2016, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled “U.S. Policy in Libya.” The witness was State Department Special Envoy for Libya Jonathan Winer. To watch a webcast of the hearing, click here.

Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) opened the hearing by noting how Libya is a “textbook case” of what not to do in foreign policy. He stated that U.S. policy in Libya is unclear, and he saw the point of the hearing as an attempt to “understand what is an achievable outcome in Libya that is in line with U.S. interests, and at what cost.” He questioned the training and arming of the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) militia and national guard, especially considering the United States’ past experiences in arming Libyan security forces and the lessons the United States learned from doing so. He highlighted Libyans who have been sanctioned because they inhibited the formation of the unity government, and questioned whether the U.S. government is prepared to do so in the future. Noting the failure of U.S. policy in Libya following the fall of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, Corker suggested that a lack of ‘day-after’ planning significantly hindered Libya’s progress.

Ranking Member …

Bahrain Rapidly Escalates Crackdown on Opposition Voices

A Bahraini court ordered the suspension of all activities by al-Wefaq, the island-nation’s largest opposition party. The Justice and Islamic Affairs Ministry, which asked the court to issue the order, said al-Wefaq’s shuttering was needed to “safeguard the security of the kingdom.” The court alleged that al-Wefaq violated the constitution and was guilty of “activities that sow and divide the unity of citizens.” A hearing was scheduled for October 6 to decide whether to “liquidate” al-Wefaq and its assets have been frozen. The order follows the recent increase in the sentence of al-Wefaq’s Secretary-General Ali Salman from 4 to 9 years for “crimes of promoting change to the political system by force.”

The United States is “deeply troubled” by the “alarming move” by the Bahraini government, stating that the dissolution of al-Wefaq is “not consistent with a commitment to sustaining,..progress or pursuing unfulfilled reforms.” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power called the move “serious backsliding” on human rights by the Bahraini government.

Human Rights First said the action against al-Wefaq “is part of an alarming new crackdown by the government, designed to eliminate all remaining opposition in the country.” The organization’s Director of Human Rights Defenders Brian

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