Western lawmakers call for ‘free elections’ in Bahrain

The file photo, taken on December 26, 2014, shows a Bahraini man holding up a placard reading in Arabic, "Your government and your parliament are without legitimacy," during an anti-government protest in the village of Jannusan, west of the capital Manama. (Photo by AFP)

The file photo, taken on December 26, 2014, shows a Bahraini man holding up a placard reading in Arabic, “Your government and your parliament are without legitimacy,” during an anti-government protest in the village of Jannusan, west of the capital Manama. (Photo by AFP)

Fri Nov 9, 2018 03:47PM

The government of Bahrain has come under fire by Western lawmakers against the backdrop of a ban on an opposition party from contesting the upcoming elections in the Arab country.

Bahrain is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on November 24.

A cross-party group of British lawmakers, including Conservative MP Peter Bottomley, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, and Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, said in a letter to the Foreign Office that Bahrain “effectively bans major opposition figures from holding political office.” They added that a countless number of Bahraini individuals have been “incarcerated on charges that criminalize free expression and assembly.”

“Free and fair elections can only take place if citizens are able to express their views.”

The British lawmakers also referred to the forcible closure of the only independent newspaper, Al-Wasat, back in 2017 and the detention of at least 15 journalists and Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab for comments deemed critical of the Bahraini state.

“Bahrain may be a key strategic ally to the UK but human rights and democratic values are fundamental pillars of our society and foreign policy”, the letter concluded.

In Ireland, a cross-party group of lawmakers involved in foreign affairs urged the release of all political detainees in Bahrain and permitting international bodies to observe the elections.

Members of the European Parliament also slammed the Bahraini regime for missing the opportunity of the elections “to ease tensions and allow space for open dialogue to take place.”

Some 40 members of the European Parliament composed a letter addressed to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah which is to be published next week.

The letter also points to “the enactment of increasingly repressive measures.”

“Under these conditions, Bahrain’s elections cannot be recognized by the international community as free, fair, or legitimate.”

Last week, US Congressmen James McGovern and Randy Hultgren, who are co-chairs of the bipartisan Tom Lantos human rights commission in the US House of Representatives, stressed that it would be difficult for the international community to recognize the upcoming elections as legitimate, noting that Manama “has dissolved two major opposition political societies, barred all members of the societies from running for office on an individual basis, and imprisoned a number of key figures, as well as writers and civil society leaders.”

“In addition, Bahrain’s electoral infrastructure inherently disadvantages the political opposition. There is no independent electoral commission and, to date, there has been no commitment by the government to permit either domestic or international observers,” the letter added.

In May, Bahrain’s parliament approved a bill barring members of the al-Wefaq from running in elections, the latest step in Manama’s political crackdown.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the kingdom on February 14, 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and let a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.

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The reinstatement of North Korea: What effects on the ‘story’ of socialism?


October 25, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogThe reinstatement of North Korea: What effects on the ‘story’ of socialism?

It seems unlikely – as it defies 73 years of ongoing aggression, warfare, the near-warfare of constant tap dancing on the border, starvation-creating sanctions, false promises, broken promises, racist caricaturing, hysterical knee-jerk anti-socialism, and more besides – but what if Washington finally allows North Korea to reintegrate into the multinational world?

North Korea has been so politically oppressed from without that they are less integrated into global affairs, regional affairs, and even local & national affairs (their country was forcibly divided, after all) than any nation. They are even less integrated than the other few nations which have sustained modern (and thus socialist-inspired) popular revolutions, such as Cuba, Iran, Eritrea, mighty China and their fighting Vietnamese comrades.

We are told that we don’t really know anything about North Korea! We are also told to believe nothing from Pyongyang, and that the “Hermit Kingdom” is the most inscrutable of all those very-inscrutable East Asians. But I reported from Seoul and the DMZ border in 2013 and learned some interesting things (5 of them are here).

If I had to give the two most important ideas, they would be: no People have lived with more meddling exterior menaces since the year 1945 -North Koreans are bordered by and/or threatened by the US, South Korea, Russia, China and Japan); and the second point would be that the reunification of an $8 trillion mineral-richwell-educated(darn those socialist countries with their not-for-profit education programs) North Korea with South Korea would almost IMMEDIATELY create the world’s 5th-largest economy, trailing only the US, China, Japan and Germany. I hold these truths to be self-evident, and move on to the point of this article….

Let’s conjecture that Korea is still not allowed to reunite but that North Korea is allowed a global reinstatement on the level of China and Vietnam, leapfrogging poor Cuba and lonely Iran (but who is lonely when they have God?): How would that affect socialism on a global-historical scale?

What do I mean by that? I mean: socialism is a historical-political movement which covers 200 years, which is nearly as faith-based as Islam or Christendom, and which is nearly as economically influential as the era of industrialisation (an era which has lasted 250 years because many colonized countries have never even finished the First Industrial Revolution) and reinstatement for North Korea means a North Korean victory…and a victory for North Korea HAS TO impact the “narrative of socialism”, no?

Right now the narrative since 1992 is that “History is over”, per Francis Fukuyama, and capitalism has defeated socialism until the end of time…except that Fukuyama himself just backtracked on that with a recent interview“At this juncture, it seems to me that certain things Karl Marx said are turning out to be true.” Ah, really Frank? By “juncture” you mean roughly 1848, right?

It’s 2018 and we’re talking North Korean reintegration, old F.F. is having doubts and Donald Trump is in the White House – what is the world coming to?!

Trump, God bless his Nobel Peace Prize-deserving soul (hey, Obama re-set the bar, right?) seems willing to do what the smartphone-loving world demands: end the Cold War on North Korea…in order to start exploiting the Jongju superdeposit, the world’s largest rare earth metals cache, and which may contain double the world’s known rare earth element resources. Money talks with capitalists, not ideology/morality/history….

So what does it mean for socialism if North Korea is allowed to allow people in?

Here’s what I’m picturing: Much like Iran, foreigners come visit and realize: this place is far more modern and put together than often ignorantly assumed. After all, North Korea seems to have the ideological cohesion of Cuba combined with a high-tech skillset & wealth volume closer to Iran (Cuba’s “wealth volume” is limited by population size, containing only sugar and nickel, and by being an island (blockade-busting is thus harder)). With reinstatement the world will slowly realize and accept that North Korea is indeed a socialist success – just like China and Vietnam. Unlike Iran, there is no Islamophobia for the Christian-Atheist West to use as a deflection.

Reinstatement means Asians run socialism like Westerners run capitalism

A North Korean victory means we are talking about the four biggest socialist success stories, certainly from an economic standpoint, being from Asia.

Concurrently, European socialism is not even close to being revived: it’s hard to shock back into life someone who has drunk hemlock (events of 1989-1991) and also asked to be shot (the Eurozone & European Union). Asia turns to its left, sees Iran, mumbles (but not disapprovingly), stands on its tiptoes and shakes its head while discussing “revisionism” and “the lack of a Cultural Revolution”.

Here is the fundamental question at the heart of this article: The West writes the history of socialism because they are the “victors” and history is written by the victors.

The West is the “victor” in every way possible, of course – one can never question that. They are the “victors” in what “socialism” is, means and should be…which is paradoxical, because they have undoubtedly always been the “victors” in capitalism-imperialism and are the current victors in neo-imperialism.

Western paradoxes are there only to be ignored, so I’ll continue: They are also the “victors” in which rights are “human” and which are not; they are the “victors” in what is “freedom” and what is not; they are the “victors” in which economics are successful and which are not. All of these are absolutely without a defensible factual foundation – especially the more-mathematical last one – but I contend that the West believes, and much of the rest of the world is also persuaded, that the West are the “victors” in achieving the greatest amount of “socialist victory”. (For the record, I do not believe nor am persuaded by any of these claims.)

Again, socialism is a movement which is so long and so enduring that it forces us to extend our viewpoint: If North Korea is added to the list of socialist victories…what does and what should the world do?

Save a few Latin American countries, only one of which is stable (Cuba); save a few African countries, only two of which are stable (Algeria, Eritrea); it must be admitted that Asian socialism is currently victorious in the “global-regional competition”.

Therefore, I insist an integration of North Korea allows me to declare the “end of history”: Asian socialism is the only acceptable model, and all must follow Asia henceforth.

LOL, but such a declaration is not “socialism” at all because socialism (like Islam) cannot be forced: it would then cease to be democratic, and socialism is the most class- and citizen-inclusive sociopolitical model ever created in human history. This type of a declaration can only be made by capitalists, who impose by force the ideas of one person (or of an oligarchical few).

Obviously, the actual ramifications of a North Korean success on the “narrative of socialism” is multi-faceted, complicated and boring to many, but the ramifications are real, impactful, undeniable and unavoidable.

What do Western socialists ‘learn’ from a North Korean success?

Is the West capable of learning from a North Korean success?

Past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour, so my answer is “no”: The West will make it a point to remain the “victors” (in their view) and thus learn nothing from North Korea’s success, just as they have learned nothing from the successes of China, Iran, Cuba, etc.

The West will try to co-opt North Korean success by the same lie – that North Korea is an anti-democratic mullah-ocracy…no wait, a one-family dictatorship like Cuba – that works better.

They will deny the existence of North Korea’s undeniably socialist rules, laws, history and martyrs. They will also deny the words and experiences of actual North Koreans because the Western “victors” can and should speak for everyone: The Western tongue is the “one, true” tongue.

Above all they will assert – on the Western left and the Western right – that North Korea never was socialist at all, or that it could possibly be “socialist” now. Sadly, Western socialists often do the work of the imperialist-capitalists for them; they, paradoxically are “socialists” despite espousing the exact same (nonsensical, uninformed, self-referencing, self-centered, self-interested) views on North Korea in 2018 as right-wingers.

But for the true socialists living in the Western countries – and I am talking about perhaps as many as 14 people – a North Korean success should be applauded loudly. After all – no other socialist nation has endured more to win sovereignty, freedom and their own form of socialism. Of course, this public applauding will make us even more socially-isolated in Western society to the point where we will have even greater trouble finding that elusive 15th comrade….

It’s undeniable, at least to me, that socialism can be divided into 3 distinct eras: West European dominance (Marx, Paris Commune), East European/Slavic dominance (USSR, Eastern Bloc) and Asian dominance (China, Vietnam, Iran…North Korea?). A North Korean integration means that we are STILL living in this mostly-unappreciated 3rd historical era of Asian dominance in socialist thought and practice. Reinstatement also implies that the long-awaited “Latin American dominance era”, to be led by Cuba, remains unmaterialized (due to the continued domination of the “Monroe Doctrine era”).

Of course, most Western leftists don’t want to hear any analysis which relegates the West to 2nd fiddle, as they are still the “victors”…and they are: in living in a tired, nostalgic, decidedly un-revolutionary fashion.

Trump has certainly said and done crazy things but the re-integration of North Korea follows as much capitalist logic as the re-integration of China (consumer demand, loans/bond buying, formerly low- but now mid-cost labor (providing mid-cost labor is the function Eastern Europe currently serves for the German neo-imperialism of the Eurozone)) and Vietnam (low-cost labor):

Without access to North Korea’s rare earth metals China will have perhaps as great a chokepoint on the modern global economy as any OPEC nation save Arabia (which I refuse to call “Saudi”, as only Western governments believe/want the house of Saud to be synonymous with the People of Arabia). Furthermore, due to their educational advancements, North Korea can obviously serve the same function for South Korea as East Germany did for West Germany upon their reunification: cheap but smart labor.

(Iran might have oil instead of rare earth metals, but how can they serve this capitalist labor function when they are (due to imperialist throttling) the most populous, most advanced economy in the Middle East? Even if a counter-revolution happened in Iran, who would make them their mid-cost labor hub – Russia, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt? None of those will work. This is why toppling Iran (combined with their anti-imperialist & anti-Zionist stances) is Washington’s continued project, in contrast to this floated reinstatement of North Korea. The US, being capitalist, runs on lobbies and money – somebody is obviously greasing the policy wheels (exercising their “free speech”) in favor of Pyongyang, and to hell with Korean War veterans groups or anyone else.

But that last is a bold statement – North Korean reinstatement…seriously? Sounds great – Koreans are certainly all for that, and they deserve Korean socialism…or at least to be #5 instead of pawns in a four-way game.

What does “socialism do” if North Korea becomes a success story – acknowledge it or ignore it? It seems like the answer depends on what part of the world you live in, but that is certainly a response which is “bad socialism”.

Socialism’s recent past and its present remains centered in the East, but socialism’s future remains open to anyone with common sense, a disposition for equality, and the courage to speak out.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.


South Front

On March 25, the Yemeni Missiles Force, that’s allied to the Houthis, announced in an official statement that it had targeted the King Khalid international airport in the Saudi capita of Riyadh with a Burkan 2H medium-range ballistic missile.

The Abha regional airport in the southwestern province of Asir was also targeted by a Qaher 2M ballistic missile of the Yemeni Missiles Force, according to the official statement.

Additionally. the Yemeni Missiles Force shelled the airports of Najran and Jizan provinces in southern Saudi Arabia with several Bader-1 rockets. The is type of artillery rockets was first unveiled on March 22.

Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition announced that its air defenses had successfully intercepted a ballistic missile over the city of Riyadh.

However, a video published by locals from Riyadh showed that one of the US-made Patriot missiles, which had been launched to intercept the Houthis’ missile, had crashed in a civilian area. Saudi sources reported that several civilians were injured in the incident.

The coalition didn’t mention anything about the remaining missiles that had targeted the provinces of Asir, Jizan and Najran. However, Saudi sources reported that many air defense missiles had been launched in these provinces.

The Yemeni Missiles Force said in its official statement that the missile strike had been carried out to commemorate the third anniversary of the Saudi attack on Yemen. Earlier, the Houthis’ leader Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi promised during a televised speech that the Yemeni Missiles Force will witness significant progress this year.

Houthi missiles kill 1 person in Saudi capital

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:00 A.M.) – Last night, the Houthi forces unleashed a flurry of missiles into Saudi Arabia, targeting several airports and military installations near the Kingdom’s capital city.

According to the Saudi authorities, their air defense managed to shoot down seven of the Houthi missiles.

 However, the fragments of one Houthi missile landed inside Riyadh, killing one person and wounding two others.

“With credit to the Saudi Royal Air Defense Forces,  all seven ballistic missiles were intercepted and destroyed. According to preliminary information, the interception resulted in fragments raining on a few residential neighborhoods and, at the issuance of this statement, the loss of life of an Egyptian resident, in addition to material damage to civilian objects-the details of which will shortly be announced by the relevant authorities,” according to Col. Turki Al Maliki, spokesperson for the Saudi Coalition forces.

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Iranians Mark Anniversary of Islamic Revolution with Nationwide Rallies

 February 11, 2018


Millions of Iranians are taking to the streets nationwide today to mark the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

People from all walks of life rally in different cities and towns across Iran each year to celebrate the nation’s victory that put an end to the monarchical rule of the US-backed Pahlavi regime.

Each year on the 22nd of the month of Bahman on the Persian calendar, Iranians turn out to renew their allegiance to the Islamic establishment and Imam Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Republic.

This year’s rallies come amid US President Donald Trump’s hostile policies on Iran, ranging from his warning that he might ultimately “terminate” the 2015 nuclear deal to his meddlesome stance on some scattered riots in Iran recently.

In the capital, Tehran, people and officials descended on the iconic Azadi Square, where Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani delivered a speech.

Some of Iran’s latest defense achievements were put on display at the site, including an anti-tank missile called Toofan M-2 which has a maximum range of 3,750 meters as well as two long-range Qadr ballistic missiles.

A total of 250 foreign reports are covering the event, according to Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance officials.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who attended the rally in Tehran, said Iran owes its survival and security to the people and their presence at the scene.

Unlike some regional countries that are buying of weapons from world powers, Iran’s existence and security is not tied to purchasing arms, he said. “Iran’s security is dependent on people’s presence at the scene.”

SourcePress TV

Iran after 39 Years of the Islamic Revolution

Designed by: Nour Fakih

Iran after 39 Years of the Islamic Revolution

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This is Resistance – Meet Ahed Tamimi

January 11, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

Abby Martin met this resilient Palestinian family of freedom fighters.


الموت البطيء… حُكم آل خليفة على الشيخ عيسى قاسم

الموت البطيء… حُكم آل خليفة على الشيخ عيسى قاسم

نور مريم الزين

موتاً بطيئاً، هكذا قرّر آل خليفة، حُكّام النظام البحريني، طريقة النيل من أبرز خصومهم السياسيين، الشيخ عيسى قاسم، الذي هو أهم المرجعيات الدينية في البلاد. رصاصةٌ واحدة كانت كفيلةً بوضع حدّ لأشدّ خصوم النظام يوم اقتحمت القوات الأمنية منزل قاسم في الدراز (شمالي غربي البلاد)، في أيّار الماضي، حينما أجبرته على الإقامة الجبرية فيه. وأدى الهجوم آنذاك إلى سقوط خمسة شهداء وعشرات الجرحى من المعتصمين أمام منزله، حيث تحوّل إلى «ساحةٍ للفداء»، كما سمّاها البحرينيون.

ويُقال آنذاك إن الملك «طأطأ سلاحه عن وجه قاسم حتى لا يناله عار قتل أكبر مرجعية دينية لشيعة البحرين»، وأيضاً في محاولة منه لحفظ ما تبقّى من «ماء وجهه» أمام المجتمع الدولي.

يقبع قاسم في منزله المحاصر بنصف وزنه بعدما سحبت جنسيّته، رافضاً المغادرة الفورية من الوطن الذي لبثت فيه عائلته عقوداً، مع اتهام آل خليفة لهم بأنهم «عجمٌ وليسوا عرباً»، إذ تحت قوّة السلاح، خضع الرجل الثمانيني للإقامة الجبرية، لكنّه ظلّ صامداً حتى أنهكه المرض.

الطبيب الذي زار قاسم، أوّل من أمس، تحت حراسة مشددة من وزارة الداخلية، أكّد أن «أبو سامي» يعاني فتقاً خطيراً تسبّب في نزيفٍ داخلي في جسده النحيل. فـ«الأدوية لم تعد فعّالة، لكن مجموعة عمليات جراحية، وبإشراف طاقمٍ طبي مختص، كفيلةٌ بشفاء الشيخ»، وفق الطبيب.

وبعد تشخيص إصابة قاسم بنزيف غير قابل للعلاج في المنزل، ما زال الرجل طريح الفراش، ولم تحرّك السلطات ساكناً حتى الساعة. مرّ يومان ولم تظهر سيارة إسعافٍ لتقلّه إلى المشفى، ولم تنبس «الداخلية» ببنت شفّة، فأي تصريحٍ علني برفضها تأمين العلاج سوف يثبت إخضاع «الشيخ» للإقامة الجبرية، وهو ما لم تعلنه الحكومة يوماً، لكنها تنفذه منذ ستة أشهر.

وفق معلومات «الأخبار»، لم يوافق قاسم، في بادئ الأمر، على أن يأتي أحد بطبيبٍ حتى لا يتعرض الأخير لخطر التحقيقات والاعتقال بسببه، كما رفض أي معالجةٍ تأتي من جهةٍ غير موثوقة، ولا سيّما أن التخلص منه يأتي في صلب اهتمامات الحكومة وحلفائها في الخليج.

في هذا السياق، أكّد النائب السابق عن «كتلة الوفاق»، علي الأسود، أن «هناك مشروعاً لتصفية الشيخ»، مشيراً إلى وجود «تدويلٍ لقضية الشيخ عيسى قاسم، إذ تستخدم الحكومة هذا الملف كورقةٍ أخيرة للمناكفة السياسية في الصراع السعودي ــ الإيراني». وأضاف في حديث إلى «الأخبار» أن «حرمان الأب الشيخ عيسى قاسم العلاج هو لعب بالنار بالنسبة إلى آل خليفة».

علماء البحرين أكّدوا بدورهم حراجة الوضع الصحي للزعيم الديني، ووجّهوا في بيان دعوة إلى «الشعب من أجل النزول في الشارع رجالاً وشباباً ونساءً وأطفالاً، وإعداد النصرة، عبر الخروج في المسيرات السلميّة في جميع المناطق، في ليلة الجمعة القادمة… في هبّة جماهيرية غيورة على سلامة الوطن، وسلامة فقيهه وقائده»، واحتجاجاً أيضاً على «تصاعد حملات القمع والمداهمات والاعتقالات، ورفضاً للزجّ بالوطن وقضاياه في النزاعات والتصفيات الإقليمية».

وحذّر البيان من أن «الوطن ما عاد يحتمل أكثر، والانفجار وشيكٌ إنْ لمْ يُتدارك… المسؤولية الشرعية والوطنية تحتّم على الجميع التحرّك قبل وقوع الكارثة وحدوث ما لا تحمد عقباه».

هذا المشهد يوضح أن النظام لا يدرس أبعاد الأزمة السياسية التي وصلت حدّ الانفجار مع تهديد الحكومة بوضوح لصحة قاسم وحياته، الأمر الذي يراه معظم البحرينيين تعرّضاً مباشراً لهم، ومسّاً بأكبر رموزهم.

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Bahrain’s top Shia cleric Isa Qassim in critical condition under house arrest

Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, at his house in the northwestern Bahraini village of Diraz on November 26, 2017

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (8:00 PM) – The health conditon of Bahrain’s supreme Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim has deteriorated to a point of mortal danger. This was said in a statement released by human rights organisation Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) on Monday.

According to BIRD, physicians who had visited Sheikh Isa Qassim in the northwestern village of Diraz, said the Ayatollah suffers from a “groin hernia requiring an emergency operation.”

“Such an operation carries a high mortality risk at Sheikh Isa Qassim´s age. He also suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes and a form of heart disease,” the statement continues.

According to Ali al-Aswad, former deputy of the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the Bahraini regime is the prime culprit for the Sheikh’s worsening condition.

“Whoever decides to put Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim under house arrest is the one who will bear this responsibility henceforth,”Aswad said.

The Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society used to be Bahrain’s largest political party and was founded by Isa Qassim, but was dissolved and banned by the emirate’s pro-Saudi regime in 2016 due to being of a mainly Shia religious orientation. Ever since, Qassim has been under virtual house arrest.

Earlier reports said that on Sunday, the cleric’s house was surrounded by Bahraini security forces, possibly to deter any potential attempts to breach the Ayatollah’s de facto house arrest.

Sheikh Isa Qassim has been officially stateless since June 2016, when the Manama regime stripped him of his nationality amidst a crackdown on dissent in the majority Shia kingdom. The Ayatollah faces official charges of “illegal fund collections, money laundering and helping terrorism” as well as “serving foreign interests” and promoting “sectarianism and violence,” charges which Qassim has all denied. Since the start of legal procedures against him, supporters of the Sheikh have been holding daily sit-ins and protests at his house in Dizar, which have regularly been met with deadly police violence.

The Sunni monarchy, led by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah and supported by Saudi Arabia, has stepped up its repression of Shia organisations since the 2011 mass protests against the regime. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahraini regime in its crackdown on dissent, and since March the Khalifah regime has allowed military tribunals to organise trials of civilian protesters.

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