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Wed, Feb 16, 2011 | The Guardian: Document 1, Document 2, Document 3, Document 4, Document 5, Document 6 and Document 7

Bahrainis wave their national flag and hold up a banner calling for "the fall of the government" as thousands of protesters gather at the Pearl roundabout in Manama. (AFP/Adam Jan)

WikiLeaks: No Evidence of Iran’s Hand in Bahrain Simmering Unrest

The United States has repeatedly dismissed claims by the Bahraini government that Shia Muslim unrest in the Gulf island state is backed by Iran.

US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show that the accusation made by the Manama government – which is facing street protests demanding political reforms from an opposition inspired by the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings – is not backed by hard evidence.

Bahrain, home to the US fifth fleet, is unique in the Gulf in having a Shia majority – 60-70% of the 500,000 strong population – ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty. The government has been concerned in recent years that any conflict with Iran would generate sympathy from the Shia population, the cables show.

Read related article “WikiLeaks cables show no evidence of Iran’s hand in Bahrain unrest” in the Guardian here.


Source: WikiLeaks

Document 1: Bahrainis trained by Hezbollah, claims King Hamad.

ID:165861
Cable dated:2008-08-13T09:25:00

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAMA 000541

SIPDIS

BAGHDAD FOR AMBASSADOR ERELI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/13/2028
TAGS: PREL, IZ, SY, LE, IR, BA”>BA
SUBJECT: GENERAL PETRAEUS’ VISIT TO BAHRAIN
REF: MANAMA 510

Classified By: CDA CHRISTOPHER HENZEL FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (S) Summary: King Hamad said PM Maliki was &welcome8 to visit Bahrain. He accused Syria and Hizballah of helping train Bahraini extremists. He described Iranian diplomatic pressure and expressed gratitude for the continued U.S. military presence. Hussein, Bahraini Navy Deputy Commander Brig Gen Mohammed Al Sadah, and NAVCENT/Fifth Fleet commander Vice Admiral Bill Gortney.

2. (U) MNF-I Commanding General David Petraeus visited Bahrain July 29-31 for meetings with Bahraini leaders and at US NAVCENT headquarters in Manama.

King Hamad on Iraq, Syria and Iran

3. (S) Accompanied by Ambassador Ereli, Petraeus met with an upbeat King Hamad July 30 for almost ninety minutes . Petraeus congratulated Bahrain on its nomination of an Ambassador to Iraq, stressed the need for further Arab support for the Iraqi government in order to cancel out Iranian influence, and outlined the progress the GOI and Coalition forces have made against Iranian-backed militia groups and Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The King expressed hope that U.S. forces would remain in Iraq until the GOI was clearly capable of fending off Iranian-backed extremists. The King also commented on domestic politics in Bahrain (reftel.) and praised the Department of Defense Dependent School in Manama as a key element in strong U.S.-Bahraini relations over the years. The King related how his own experience at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas had been one of the most personally and professionally rewarding of his life; he praised the value of continued military education opportunities.

4. (S) General Petraeus briefed the King on the situation in Iraq, and the King characterized the transformation of Iraq as a tremendous success. The King offered to host Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Bahrain, and named his foreign minister as action officer for a visit. (Comment: Iraq,s Ambassador in Manama told Ambassador the next day that he had heard similar things from the GOB before, but that a formal Bahraini invitation had yet to materialize. Post will follow up with FM when he returns to Bahrain on/about August 10. End comment.) The King briefed General Petraeus on recent conversations among Arab leaders about Iraq. He said King Abdullah of Jordan was supportive of more active Arab relations with the Maliki Government, while President Mubarrak and Saudi King Abdullah were reportedly more cautious.

5. (S) King Hamad related the report that Bahrainis were receiving training from Hizballah in Lebanon, but admitted he had no definitive proof. He also speculated that the Syrian government was complicit, and &must be8 helping these Bahrainis &travel without passport verification as tourists.8 (Comment: Post has heard versions of this theory from Bahraini officials in the past, but despite our requests the GOB has been unable to provide convincing evidence. End comment.)

6. (S) King Hamad said Bahrain had received a message from Iranian FM Mottaki, urging regional governments to support the efforts of Iran, Iraqi insurgents, Hamas, Hizballah, Taliban and Syria to drive American forces from the Gulf. The King commented: &With friends like these, who needs enemies?8 The King expressed his gratitude for continued U.S. military presence in the region and, particularly, in Bahrain.

Other Meetings

7. (S) In a separate meeting July 30, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifah echoed his father,s views on the need for U.S. forces in Iraq. On Iran, the Crown Prince stressed the need for solidarity among the U.S., P-5 plus 1, and moderate Arab states. General Petraeus also paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Khalifah bin Salman al Khalifah, and met with Bahraini journalists Mansour Al-Jamri and Reem Khalifah. On July 29, he dined at the Ambassador,s residence, joined by Deputy Prime Minister Jawad bin Salem

MANAMA 00000541 002 OF 002

Al-Arayedh, Commerce Minister Hassan Fakhro, MinState for Defence Lt Gen Dr. Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Member of Parliament Jassim Hussein, Bahraini Navy Deputy Commander Brig Gen Mohammed Al Sadah, and NAVCENT/Fifth Fleet commander Vice Admiral Bill Gortney.

8. (U) General Petraeus cleared this message.

HENZEL


Source: WikiLeaks

Document 2: Guide to Bahrain’s politics.

ID:168471

Cable dated:2008-09-04T14:27:00

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 MANAMA 000592

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/04/2018
TAGS: PGOV, ELAB, KDEM, PINR, PTER, LE, IR, BA”>BA
SUBJECT: A FIELD GUIDE TO BAHRAINI POLITICAL PARTIES
REF: A. 05 MANAMA 1773 B. 06 MANAMA 49 C. 06 MANAMA 1728 D. 07 MANAMA 113 E. 07 MANAMA 190 F. 07 MANAMA 810 G. 07 MANAMA 1046 H. MANAMA 336 I. MANAMA 404 J. MANAMA 407 K. MANAMA 420 L. MANAMA 510 M. MANAMA 536

Classified By: Ambassador Adam Ereli for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (SBU) Summary: This message describes the leading political groupings in Bahrain. The Wifaq party remains the most popular party among the majority Shi’a underclass and advocates non-violent political activism on behalf of the Shi’a community. Two Islamist parties dominate the Sunni side of the political scene. Secular liberals and leftists did poorly in the 2006 elections and have demonstrated little recent evidence of street appeal, but continue to maintain high media profiles. End Summary.

———-

Background

———-

2. (SBU) The 2002 constitution revived the 40-member, elected Majlis Al Nawab (Council of Representatives) after a 27 year hiatus. Although political parties remain, strictly speaking, illegal, the 2005 Political Societies Act allows for the formation of registered “political societies,” which function for all intents and purposes as political parties. The law provides for GOB financial support to registered societies, but forbids the societies from accepting foreign funding. The four societies with members in the elected lower house of parliament are Wifaq (17 seats), Asala (8), Minbar Al Islami (7), and Mustaqbal (4).

———————————————

REGISTERED SOCIETIES WITH SEATS IN PARLIAMENT

———————————————

Al Wifaq National Islamic Society

———————————

3. (C) Wifaq is the leading Shi’a political society. It is also the largest political party in Bahrain, both in terms of its membership and its strength at the polls. Wifaq holds a plurality in the elected lower house of parliament, but coalitions of smaller, pro-government Sunni parties usually outvote Wifaq. Most Wifaq leaders were exiled following the unrest of the 1990’s, and many continued oppositionist activities from London. With the amnesty of 2001, they returned to Bahrain and founded Wifaq. After boycotting the 2002 parliamentary elections, Wifaq won 17 seats in the 2006 elections. Sheikh Ali Salman, a mid-level Shi’a cleric, officially leads the party. Sheikh Isa Qassim, Bahrain’s most popular Shi’a cleric, claims to eschew politics but privately supports Wifaq (ref M) and probably exerts considerable influence over it.

4. (SBU) Wifaq’s base includes most of Bahrain’s poorer Shi’a; well-off Shi’a gravitate toward more secular societies or avoid politics. Wifaq continues to demand a “true” constitutional monarchy in which elected officials make policy decisions, the prime minister is accountable to the parliament, and the appointed upper house loses its legislative power.

5. (C) Wifaq works to combat perceived discrimination by the Sunni-dominated government through legislation and disciplined street demonstrations. Wifaq has used its growing parliamentary skill and strong leaders to bolster its position as the leading political force in the Shi’a community. Government officials have privately praised Wifaq for its rejection of illegal demonstrations and respect for “the rules” (ref K). Wifaq often works with other opposition societies, including Wa’ad (para 11), Al Minbar Progressive Democratic Society (paras 12 and 13), and Amal (paras 15 and 16).

6. (U) For more on Wifaq and its relationship with Haq (paras 20-22), see septel.

Al Asala Political Society

MANAMA 00000592 002 OF 004

————————–

7. (SBU) Asala is exclusively Sunni and is closely associated with Salafist ideology. Al Tarbiya Al Islamiya (Islamic Education Charity Society) funds the party. Asala participated in the 2006 elections and won five seats in parliament; in addition, three Sunni independents generally vote with Asala. Asala often aligns with Minbar Al Islami (para 9) to outvote Wifaq (paras 3-6). Asala’s supporters are mostly from Sunni enclaves like Muharraq island.

8. (C) Asala says its goals are to increase the standard of living for Bahrainis; strengthen political, social and economic stability; and enhance financial and administrative oversight of the government and industry. Asala does not support women’s empowerment. Party chair Ghanim Albuanain is First Deputy Chairman in Parliament. Albuanain strikes emboffs as rational and open-minded, though many of his followers are not. Asala usually backs the government in parliament. Most Bahrainis believe the Royal Court provides extra financial support to both Asala and Minbar (para 9) as a counter to Wifaq.

Al Minbar Al Islami (Minbar)

—————————-

9. (SBU) Minbar is Bahrain’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and has seven seats in parliament. It often cooperates with the Salafi political bloc Asala (paras 7 and 8), especially on issues involving religious affairs and morals. Minbar seeks a personal status law that conforms to Sharia and is acceptable to both sects. Minbar’s former leader, Dr. Salah Ali Abdul Rahman, is parliament’s Second Deputy Chairman. Dr. Abdullatif Al Shaikh is the current Minbar leader. Most of Minbar’s leaders are related to one another, and are wealthy academics. Minbar does not allow its female members to stand for election to parliament. Minbar is pro-government, and it is widely rumored that the Royal Court and the Islamic banking sector bankroll the party. The 2006 “Bandar” report accused several prominent Minbar members of engaging in a complex bribery conspiracy to influence the outcome of parliamentary elections in favor of Sunni candidates (ref C).

Al Mustaqbal

————

10. (SBU) Four independent members of parliament formed the Mustaqbal bloc after they were elected. The bloc bills itself as the only secular grouping in parliament, though all four members are Sunni. It votes reliably for the government and its leader, Adel Al Asoomi, is close to the Prime Minister.

——————————————— —

REGISTERED SOCIETIES WITHOUT PARLIAMENTARY SEATS

——————————————— —

Wa’ad National Democratic Action Society

—————————————-

11. (SBU) Wa’ad is a socialist party formed by returning exiles in 2002. It failed to win any seats in the 2006 parliamentary elections despite support from Wifaq, and has demonstrated no recent indications that it has recovered politically. However, several of its members have good access to local and international media and are able to maintain a high media profile. Ebrahim Sharif took over the society when the former chairman, Rahman Al Nuaimi, a Sunni liberal who was exiled in 1970, fell ill in 2006. XXXXXXXXXXXX Wa’ad says it desires a peaceful rotation of power in a secular, liberal state, rather than an Islamist one. Abdulla Al Derazi resigned his seat on Wa’ad’s general secretariat when he ran for Secretary General of the Bahrain Human Rights Society. Wa’ad consists primarily of middle class professionals, male and female, from both sects. Wa’ad joined the opposition boycott of the 2002 elections. The party questions the legitimacy of the 2002 constitution, and supports a new family law. Sharif led a Wa’ad delegation to Lebanon in late July 2008, where he met and publicly praised recently released Hizballah fighter Samir Al Qantar.

Al Minbar Progressive Democratic Society (APDS)

——————————————— —

12. (SBU) Established in 2001, APDS represents Bahrain’s former communists. Most of its approximately 100 members

MANAMA 00000592 003 OF 004

were exiled during the late Sheikh Isa’s reign. Many APDS members used their time in exile to gain experience through work with other Arab political parties. When they returned and founded APDS, the society benefited from their strong organizational skills. Dr. Hasan Madau, a Shi’a columnist for the daily Al-Ayam, chairs the society. Men and women from both sects are active APDS members. APDS had 3 seats in the 2002 parliament, but lost them to Wifaq in 2006.

13. (SBU) APDS controlled the General Federation of Trade Unions until Wifaq won control of the federation in February 2008.

Al Meethaq (National Action Charter Society)

——————————————–

14. (SBU) Wealthy businessmen from well-known families of both sects founded Meethaq in 2002. Meethaq is a pro-government party formerly backed by the Royal Court that now wields little influence. Abdulrahman Jamsheer, a prominent Sunni businessman close to the Royal Court, chaired the society until Mohammed Al Buanain, from a respected Muharraq family, defeated him in the society’s 2006 internal elections. After Meethaq members proved themselves inactive with little street influence, the Royal Court reportedly shifted its support to Sunni Islamists with more street appeal. In the 2006 parliamentary polls Meethaq lost its five seats to Wifaq (paras 3-6) and Minbar (para 9).

Amal Islamic Action Society (Amal)

———————————-

15. (SBU) Amal is the non-violent heir to the defunct Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, which launched a failed uprising in 1981 inspired by Iran’s Islamic revolution. Amal members are often referred to here as “Shirazis,” for their alleged ties to Ayatollah Muhammad Al-Shirazi, who died in 2001. A number of Amal’s current supporters did prison time, while Mohammed Ali Al Mahfouth, Amal’s founder, spent much of the nineties in Damascus calling for the overthrow of the Al Khalifas (ref M). He and his followers were pardoned in the 2001 general amnesty. Amal joined Wifaq’s boycott of the 2002 parliamentary elections. Al Mahfouth founded Amal in 2002, but refused to register the society until 2005.

16. (C) Amal has no seats in parliament, and continues to lose influence in the Shi’a community to Wifaq. The Ministry of Justice and Islamic affairs recently added to Amal’s troubles when it determined that Amal violated a law that bars the use of religious buildings for political purposes.

Al Watani (National Democratic Gathering Society)

——————————————— —-

17. (SBU) A few Wa’ad (para 11) members, led by Sunni Abdulla Hashim (see Adala, paras 18 and 19), split to form Watani in 2002. After Hashim failed to win a seat in the 2002 parliamentary elections, he began aligning the society with Salafis, even though Watani members hailed from both sects. This angered Watani members, who elected a new board and chairman, Fadhel Abbas, in March 2007. Hashim, an attorney, sued the party alleging that they had violated their bylaws, but lost the case. Since Abbas’ election, Watani has begun to reestablish relationships with other societies, including Wa’ad.

Adala National Justice Movement

——————————-

18. (C) Abdulla Hashim founded Adala as an umbrella organization for extreme Sunni elements after Watani (para 17) kicked him out in 2006. Adala registered as a political society with the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs on October 22, 2007. Adala has a more nationalist identity than Asala and Minbar. The society initially focused its criticism on the U.K. and Iran, but now devotes all its energy to exposing the horrors of “U.S. imperialism.” Hashim has a real talent for attracting local and international media coverage for his stunts, such as an April 26 demonstration near the U.S. Navy base here that featured the beheading a mannequin dressed to represent a U.S. Marine. Despite their media profile, however, Adala has never produced more than 80 people at one of its demonstrations. Both Hashim and deputy Muhi aldin Khan stood for parliament in Muharraq in 2006 and lost to Al Minbar Al Islami (para 9).

19. (S) Adala is Bahrain’s most outspoken supporter of former Guantanamo detainees, and is usually the first to spring to the defense of Bahrainis arrested for alleged links to

MANAMA 00000592 004 OF 004

Al-Qaeda (ref G).

——————————————— —–

UNREGISTERED SOCIETIES WITHOUT PARLIAMENTARY SEATS

——————————————— —–

THE UNREGISTERED HAQ MOVEMENT

—————————–

20. (SBU) Hasan Mushaima, a founding, hard-line member of Wifaq, left to found Haq in November 2005. From the start, Haq has defied the requirements for registration of political societies (ref A). Haq opposes the 2002 constitution on the grounds that it rescinded liberties granted by the 1973 constitution, that the King drafted it unilaterally, and that it gave constitutional legitimacy and legislative authority to the appointed upper house of parliament. Haq accuses King Hamad of not fulfilling his promises to bring democratic reforms to Bahrain. Haq’s top public goal is a new constitution for Bahrain drafted by elected delegates. Since Haq competes with Wifaq for the same Shi’a supporters, Haq gains support whenever Wifaq is perceived as unsuccessful in parliament. When Wifaq is successful, Haq loses popularity.

21. (S) Post and the public perceive Haq as inspiring many of the small gangs of Shi’a youth who throw stones and Molotov cocktails at police almost every weekend. Haq has submitted petitions to the U.N., the USG, and the GOB calling for the Prime Minister’s resignation and condemning the GOB’s human rights record. Abduljalil Al Singace, Haq’s public affairs and media specialist, has contacts with U.S.-based and international NGOs and media outlets. GOB officials often assert that the Iranian regime controls Mushaima and other Haq supporters, however has yet to provide post with convincing evidence.

22. (U) For more on Haq and its relationship with Wifaq (paras 3-6), see septel.


Source: WikiLeaks

Document 3: Simmering unrest in Bahrain.

ID:150213

Cable dated:2008-04-17T13:43:00

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 MANAMA 000252

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR THE SECRETARY FROM AMBASSADOR ERELI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/17/2018 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, OVIP”>OVIP, BA”>BA
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR SECRETARY RICE’S VISIT TO BAHRAIN

Classified By: Classified By: Ambassador Adam Ereli for reasons 1.4 (b ) and (d).

——–

Overview

——–

1. (S) Madame Secretary, Embassy Manama is delighted to welcome you back to Bahrain. This is just about as good a bilateral relationship as we have anywhere: Bahrain’s leaders share our strategic vision for the region and they see their national interest as tied to ours.

2. (S) King Hamad and Sheikh Khalid have lofty ambitions for this ministerial. Their number-one security concern is Iran. They support our tough stand toward Tehran and hope that this GCC plus 2 gathering will galvanize regional cooperation to contain the regime there. Sheikh Khalid told us his goal for the meeting is to demonstrate that “we have an alliance that will not stand by and watch countries fall to Iran one by one.” In this context, the presence of Foreign Minister Zebari should send a clear to message to other Arab states that the time has come to embrace Iraq.

3. (S) A military corollary to our regional diplomacy is Secretary Gate’s efforts to promote greater multilateral

SIPDIS

security cooperation among GCC members. In this too, Bahrain is an enthusiastic supporter, and along with the UAE, wants to move forward as rapidly as possible. Internally, sectarian violence continues to simmer and political life is becoming increasingly polarized.

——————-

Iran and the Region

——————-

4. (S) In looking at developments in the Gulf, Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq, the Government of Bahrain sees a concerted campaign by the regime in Tehran to spread its extremist ideology throughout the region. It seeks to counter this threat through more assertive and robust regional cooperation with the United States. Bahrain’s leadership pushed to host the GCC plus 2 because it believes this forum represents the best hope for accomplishing that objective.

5. (S) Our point that reintegrating Iraq into the Arab fold is critical to limiting Iranian influence has had real resonance with the Bahraini leadership, as evidenced by their decision to invite Zebari to this ministerial and to send an Ambassador to Baghdad. It has been a month since Sheikh Khalid announced that decision in Washington, and the Foreign Ministry is still vetting a shortlist of candidates. (Iraq’s Ambassador to Bahrain has told us that he is exasperated by Bahrain’s ambivalence toward improving relations. On the one hand, their officials publicly declare a willingness to engage and privately, the Deputy Prime Minister has encouraged him to organize more high-level visits. On the other hand, every time he tries to bring ministers to Manama, the authorities here drag their feet. He’s been working for months to arrange a visit by the Minister of Tourism and to organize a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee, but complains that he is met with only delay and evasion.)

6. (S) Bahrain’s leaders are also focusing on unilateral steps to protect themselves. They want to enhance Bahrain’s missile defense capability as quickly as possible. King Hamad told Secretary Gates on March 26 that Bahrain needed three Patriot firing units; he hoped the U.S. would provide one and Bahrain would buy or lease the other two. A Patriot firing unit will temporarily deploy to Bahrain in May as part of the annual GCC military exercise, Eagle Resolve. OSD is examining options for providing a longer-term solution, including re-deployment to the region of some of the Patriot units currently based in the United States as well as the periodic deployment of SM-2 and SM-3 equipped AEGIS cruisers.

7. (S) Vulnerability to maritime threats is a second leading concern. The government has made enhancing coastal defense a high priority. The Embassy and NAVCENT have submitted a 1206 request for $20 million to upgrade Bahrain’s Coastal Surveillance Radar. If approved, this proposal would significantly improve Bahrain’s maritime security capability and send a strong message of support to the government at a time of steep reductions in FMF and IMET funding.

MANAMA 00000252 002 OF 003

———————————

Multilateral Security Cooperation

———————————

8. (S) Bahrain is a leading advocate for greater multilateral security cooperation. They eagerly welcomed Secretary Gates’ initiative on regional air and maritime defenses. As a result of his meeting with Chiefs of Staff from the GCC and Jordan in Manama last December, there is now broad recognition that effective regional air and maritime defense requires multilateral cooperation. Following up, NAVCENT hosted a Maritime Infrastructure Symposium in February, which was attended by representatives from the GCC and some NATO countries. Air Force Chief of Staff General Mosley will bring together in Bahrain this June Air Chiefs from the GCC plus 2 to develop a way-ahead for shared early warning and regional air defense. On March 4, Bahrain’s navy took command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 152, the coalition maritime force that patrols the central and southern Arabian Gulf. It is the first time a Gulf state has commanded a coalition military operation. It is also worth mentioning that on April 23-24, Bahrain will host a meeting of NATO’s North Atlantic Council as part of the Istanbul initiative.

——————————

MONITORING IRANIAN MONEY FLOWS

——————————

9. (S) Bahrain’s Central Bank carefully monitors Iranian money flows. Financial services account for almost thirty percent of Bahrain’s GDP. The leadership here is well aware of the damage that illicit Iranian activity would have on Bahrain’s reputation, which in banking and finance is everything. Moreover, they share our desire to prevent Iran from exploiting the international system to fund terror and weapons proliferation. They are outspoken in their calls for GCC neighbors to exercise the same degree of careful oversight.

10.XXXXXXXXXXXX

—————

Internal Issues

—————

11. (C) Internally, conditions in Bahrain continue to simmer. Small but violent bands of Shi’a underclass youth, frustrated with persistent discrimination and what they perceive as too gradual a pace of reform, clash with police nearly every week. The Sunni minority, which rules the country and controls all security forces, has generally acted with restraint, but it takes only one mistake to provoke a potentially disastrous escalation.

12. (C) Many feared just such a scenario when, on the evening of April 9, a policeman was killed in the Shia village of Kazarkhan by youths who threw rocks and Molotov cocktails, igniting his vehicle. The murder of a law enforcement officer crossed a red line and concern was high that security forces would react with a massive crack-down, further inflaming sectarian tensions. In fact, it appears that all sides – Shia and Sunni, regime and opposition – looked over the precipice and decided not to take the leap. All have walked their followers back and made a conscious decision to advocate restraint and tolerance. The police have arrested 14 people believed to be connected to the attack. All major political societies, including the largest Shia party, Al-Wifaq, issued strong statements condemning the killing and supporting the security forces. Other than the arrests, there has been no security crackdown. King Hamad recognizes the danger that violence and political stalemate represent for his democratic reforms and is playing a behind-the-scenes role to encourage moderation and compromise among political leaders.


Source: WikiLeaks

Document 4: Bahrain wary of threat from Iran.

ID:163668

Cable dated:2008-07-25T18:50:00

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 MANAMA 000496

SIPDIS

BAGHDAD FOR GENERAL PETRAEUS AND AMBASSADOR ERELI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/25/2028
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, IR, IZ, BA”>BA
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR GENERAL PETRAEUS’ VISIT TO BAHRAIN

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires a.i. Christopher Henzel for reasons 1. 4 (b) and (d)

1. (S) General Petraeus, Embassy Manama and the Bahraini leadership look forward to welcoming you back to Bahrain. Following on Secretary Rice’s dinner in Abu Dhabi with GCC-plus 3 officials July 21, and at a time when many in the Gulf are speculating about the trajectory of the tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, your visit will further reassure the Bahrainis of America’s commitment to regional security. You may also wish to note Bahrain’s designation of an Ambassador to Iraq, and encourage the GOB to follow through smartly.

2. (S) You will find the leadership focused first on defending against potential Iranian missile threats, but also on the return of Navy dependents, and coastal radar upgrades. Multilateral air and maritime defense initiatives remain a subject of steady follow-up with the Bahrainis since Secretary Gates’ meetings with regional Chiefs of Staff in Bahrain in December 2007, and the Gulf Air Chiefs conference that General North convened in Bahrain in June, 2008.

3. (S) On the political side, the Bahraini leadership is following very closely media speculation about potential scenarios for military confrontation with Iran. Regional tensions may be adding to long-standing domestic tensions as well, contributing to the stridency of sectarian voices in Bahrain. The majority of Bahraini citizens are part of the Shi’a underclass, and their grievances, expressed both in legal political activity and in street skirmishes between youths and police, are at the center of all domestic politics here.

—————————————-

Missile Defense and Regional Cooperation

—————————————-

4. (S) Bahrain’s national security strategy rests squarely on the presence here of NAVCENT/Fifth Fleet headquarters and Bahrain’s close security partnership with the U.S. Unlike its Gulf neighbors, Bahrain does not enjoy the kind of oil revenues that might enable it to buy advanced weaponry on its own. U.S. foreign military financing for Bahrain this year was only $3.9 million. State, with DoD support, is pressing for an increase in the next budget.

5. (S) The top security priority for Bahrain’s leadership is missile defense. King Hamad told Secretary Gates on March 26 that Bahrain has assessed the need for several complete Patriot batteries to cover the island. He said that that he hoped the U.S. would provide one, while Bahrain would buy or lease others (though in our view this would be a stretch for Bahrain’s budget.) A Patriot firing unit temporarily deployed to Bahrain in May as part of the annual GCC military exercise Eagle Resolve, and most of its equipment remains here in storage. We understand OSD is examining a number of options for providing a longer-term solution, including re-deployment to the region of Patriot units currently based elsewhere, as well as the periodic deployment of SM-2 and SM-3 equipped AEGIS cruisers.

6. (S) DoD has launched a number of initiatives to develop multilateral air and maritime defense capabilities. In February, NAVCENT hosted a Maritime Infrastructure Symposium which was attended by representatives from the GCC and some NATO countries. On 22-23 June, the Commander of Air Force Central Command, LTG North, met in Bahrain with Air Chiefs from the GCC plus Jordan to develop a way ahead for shared early warning and regional, mutual air defense.

————————————-

Coastal Defense and Maritime Security

————————————-

7. (S) The Government of Bahrain is concerned about its vulnerability to maritime threats such as drug trafficking, terrorism and subversion. Enhancing coastal defense and maritime security is a priority second only to missile defense. The Ministry of Interior has embarked on an ambitious program to enhance the counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics capabilities of its Coast Guard Special Units. We have seen considerable commitment and improvement.

8. (S) For this reason, and in view of the low FMF levels of recent years, the Embassy strongly supports a NAVCENT-initiated Section 1206 funded proposal to upgrade Bahrain’s Coastal Surveillance Radar. The proposal did not

MANAMA 00000496 002 OF 003

receive funding through the Section 1206 program this year, but will be submitted again in 2009. If approved, this proposal would significantly improve Bahrain’s maritime security capability and send a strong message of support to the government at a time of steep reductions in FMF and IMET funding. Under this proposal the Bahrain Navy will receive new equipment that will augment the system already owned by the Bahrain Coast Guard. The picture will be shared with the Bahrain Coast Guard, Bahrain Military Intelligence, and the U.S. Navy. The radar picture can potentially be shared with other countries in the region.

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Royal Bahrain Navy

——————

9. (S) From 4 March through 5 June, the Commander of the Royal Bahrain Navy (RBN), Brigadier Al Mansoori, took command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 152, the coalition maritime force that patrols the central and southern Arabian Gulf. This was the first time a Gulf state commanded a coalition naval operation, and we understand Brigadier Al Mansoori’s role may inspire others in the Gulf to take a turn in command of a CTF as well. The RBN would welcome an opportunity to command this task force again.

——————–

U.S. Navy Dependents

——————–

10. (S) The dependents of the NAVCENT personnel in Bahrain were sent home in summer 2004 in reaction to what DoD viewed as an inadequate GOB response to the discovery of a potentially violent group of Sunni extremists on the island. The Embassy’s assessment differed and its dependents remained. Since then, the GOB has improved its counter-terrorism performance, and both NAVCENT and the Embassy have been advocating for the return of Navy dependents.

11. (S) The Crown Prince is a strong advocate for the people-to-people contacts fostered by having Navy families in Bahrain. He views this as important to maintaining domestic support — especially among the Bahraini elites who have traditionally sent children to the DoD Bahrain School — for his strategy of alignment with the U.S. The Crown Prince is, himself, a graduate of the Bahrain School; his eldest son graduated from the school in June, and another son is still attending.

12. (S) President Bush and Secretary Gates told the King during their March meetings in Washington that Navy dependents would begin returning soon. Unfortunately, this still hasn’t happened. The Embassy’s understanding is that DoD is currently considering authorizing a return of spouses.

——————-

Nuclear Cooperation

——————-

13. (C) On March 26, the U.S. and Bahrain signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Nuclear Energy Cooperation, as well as a statement of support for the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Bahrain has also been invited to participate in the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.

—————

Internal Issues

—————

14. (C) Over the past two months the King has departed from his traditional detached style and intervened personally in several controversies arising from Bahrain’s Shi’a-Sunni tensions. He has publicly, both personally and through his ministers, summoned communal leaders, newspaper editors and bloggers to warn them against crossing red lines against discussion of issues like royal family disputes and criticism of judges who have sentenced Shi’a rioters to prison terms.

15. (S) Within the Sunni minority there are several pockets of extremism, which the Bahraini authorities appear to be monitoring closely. In June, police detained a Bahraini who has since been charged with being in contact with a “banned group”, i.e. al Qaeda. U.S. and Bahraini security services worked together productively on this case.

———-

MANAMA 00000496 003 OF 003

Conclusion

———-

16. (S) As the smallest Gulf state, Bahrain has historically needed closer security ties with a western patron than any of its neighbors. As a result, the U.S. Navy has As a result, the U.S. Navy has had a presence here since the closing days of the second world war. As General Mansoori’s command of CTF 152 demonstrates, we can use our close security ties with Bahrain to continue pushing the envelope for GCC-U.S. security cooperation.

* HENZEL


Source: WikiLeaks

Document 5: Bahrain’s relations with Iran.

ID:164906

Cable dated:2008-08-05T13:58:00

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 MANAMA 000528

BAGHDAD FOR AMBASSADOR ERELI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/06/2018
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, KISL, KNNP, PTER, EFIN, IR, BA”>BA
SUBJECT: BAHRAIN’S RELATIONS WITH IRAN
REF: A. 07 MANAMA 1045 B. 07 MANAMA 1070 C. 07 MANAMA 1016 D. MANAMA 22 E. MANAMA 220 F. MANAMA 430 G. MANAMA 442

Classified By: CDA Christopher Henzel for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: The Sunni ruling family of tiny, Shi’a-majority Bahrain have long recognized that they needed outsiders — first the British, then the United States — to protect them from predatory neighbors, Iran foremost among them. Both Shahs and Ayatollahs have asserted claims to sovereignty over Bahrain from time to time. While keeping close to their American protectors, Bahrain’s rulers seek to avoid provoking Iran unnecessarily, and keep channels of communication with Iranian leaders open. End summary.

Historical Background

———————

2. (C) The Sunni al-Khalifa family took Bahrain in 1783 from another Arab clan that acknowledged Persian overlordship. As the British were leaving Bahrain in 1971, the last Shah of Iran asserted, then withdrew, a claim of sovereignty over the country. After the Islamic revolution in Iran, the clerical regime has from time-to-time publicly re-asserted these claims during exercises in nationalist muscle-flexing. The most recent was in 2007, when the semi-official Kayhan newspaper ran an editorial that asserted an Iranian claim to Bahrain. Bahrain — and the USG — loudly denounced the editorial, and the GOB eventually announced that it was satisfied with the editor’s statement that he did not speak for the government.

Shi’a Bahrainis’ Ties with Iran

——————————-

3. (SBU) Sixty to seventy percent of Bahrain’s 500,000 citizens are Shi’a. (The other half-million residents are guest workers.) With the exception of a few merchant families, Shi’a Bahrainis are poorer than Sunni Bahrainis. Most Bahraini Shi’a are Arabs, but about 10-15 percent of Bahrainis are ethnically Persian, and speak Persian at home. Many of these descend from families who came here to work in the British administration or, starting in the 1930s, in the oil industry. Persian-speakers (mostly Shi’a, a few Sunni) now tend to belong to the professional classes.

4. (C) Post’s very rough estimate is that 30 percent of the Shi’a here follow clerics who look to more senior clerics in Iran for guidance. The majority look to Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq, and a few to Muhammad Fadlallah and others in Lebanon. Bahrain’s most popular Shi’a cleric is Sheikh Isa Qassim, who has occasionally endorsed the Iranian regime’s doctrine of velayat-e faqih, and as a result is a lightning rod for loud Sunni criticism (ref F), and quieter criticism from some more orthodox Shi’a clerics. (See septel for profiles of Bahrain’s leading Shi’a clerics.)

5. (C) A number of Bahrain’s middle-aged clerics studied in Qom during the years when Saddam obstructed study in Iraq. Several Bahraini clerics currently teach in Qom. The pious among Bahrain’s Shi’a are very happy that they again have access to study and pilgrimage in Iraq’s holy cities. A delegation of Shi’a community leaders visited Najaf in July for the opening of the new airport there, and was widely feted upon their return to Bahrain. Our Shi’a contacts hail the opening of the Najaf airport as a sign of a resurgent Iraq that will regain its prominence as the center of Shi’a learning and religious authority. As a result, we expect religious ties with Qom to subside in coming years.

Bahraini Policy Toward Iran

—————————

6. (S) Bahrain’s Sunni rulers view Iran with deep suspicion, and support USG efforts to pressure Iran to change its behavior. But the Al-Khalifas also seek to keep channels open, and make occasional gestures to placate their large, touchy neighbor. Over the past year, we have seen both sides of this Bahraini balancing act. President Ahmadinejad visited Bahrain for five hours in November, 2007, (ref A) followed by President Bush’s two-day visit in January, 2008 (ref D). The GOB vetoed the plans of a prominent local Shi’a, with Iranian government funding, to build a charity hospital here, but the GOB continues protracted negotiations with Tehran over the potential purchase of Iranian natural gas (ref B). Bahrain’s leaders sometimes speak to U.S. officials of their genuine worries that Iranian missiles are sighted on targets such as the NAVCENT headquarters in downtown Manama and the royal palaces. Nevertheless, the GOB is careful to keep its public positions on Iran anodyne.

7. (SBU) The vacationing Bahraini Foreign Minister sent Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nizar Baharna to the July Non-Aligned Movement Conference in Tehran. On July 31 Iranian media reported that President Ahmadinejad had reiterated to Baharna an invitation for Bahrain’s Prime Minister and King to visit Iran.

Diplomatic Presence

——————-

8. (C) Bahrain’s Ambassador in Tehran, Rashid Al-Dosari, is a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and one of the Bahraini MFA’s more experienced diplomats. However, during a recent visit to Manama, he admitted to Charge that he has poor access to Iranian officials. This may be, he said, because of the very short leash on which the GOB keeps the small Iranian Embassy in Manama.

Trade

—–

9. (U) Bahrain has a growing but limited trade relationship with Iran. Despite Iran’s size and proximity, it is not one of Bahrain’s top-20 trading partners. According to published Ministry of Finance figures, bilateral trade totaled only $33.7 million in 2004, grew to $99 million in 2005, and remained constant at $108 million in both 2006 and 2007 — accounting for less than 1% of Bahrain’s total trade. In contrast, bilateral trade with the U.S. reached $1.2 billion in 2007, behind only the EU and Saudi Arabia. The Bahrain-Iran trade relationship primarily consists of Bahrain exports of petroleum and mining products, and professional and financial services. Imports from Iran are minimal.

Counter-Proliferation and Counter-Terrorism Finance

——————————————— ——

10. (C) As a banking and financial center, the GOB has been responsive on counter-terrorism finance issues, and has affirmed its support of UNSCRs 1737, 1747, and 1803 (ref E). In 2004, Iranian Bank Melli and Bank Saderat, together with Bahraini Ahli United Bank formed a joint venture to create Bahrain-based Future Bank BSC. Following U.S. sanctions against Banks Melli and Saderat, and in consultation with Embassy Manama and U.S. Treasury, in 2007 the Central Bank of Bahrain enjoined Future Bank from engaging in new business with Iran, effectively took control of the Board of Directors, and saw Ahli United Bank place all shares of Future Bank in a blind trust. The GOB stated that a blind trust was necessary because Ahli United was unable to divest itself of its interest in Future Bank since it was perceived by the market as “tainted” by the Iranian association (ref C). Ahli United, Bahrain’s largest lender, had already suspended all new transactions with Iran by August 2007. Future Bank’s deposits currently total about $275 million — a fraction of 1% of a consolidated balance sheet for the Bahraini Banking system that exceeds $155 billion.

Alleged Iranian Subversion

————————–

11. (S) Bahraini government officials sometimes privately tell U.S. official visitors that some Shi’a oppositionists are backed by Iran. Each time this claim is raised, we ask the GOB to share its evidence. To date, we have seen no convincing evidence of Iranian weapons or government money here since at least the mid-1990s, when followers of Ayatollah Shirazi were rounded up and convicted of sedition. (The so-called Shirazis were subsequently pardoned and some now engage in legal politics as the very small Amal party, which has no seats in Parliament.) In post’s assessment, if the GOB had convincing evidence of more recent Iranian subversion, it would quickly share it with us.

12. (C) Nevertheless, if Iran became embroiled in armed conflict, Bahrain’s Shi’a would be sympathetic, and the likely street demonstrations would be an internal security concern for the GOB.

Conclusion

———-

13. (C) Bahrain will likely continue its careful engagement with Tehran, including senior visits, diplomatic representation, trade ties, and the limited presence in Bahrain of Iranian banks. At the same time it will continue to support, behind the scenes, U.S. pressure on Iran to change its behavior, and will continue to welcome a robust U.S. military presence in Bahrain and in the Gulf.

HENZEL


Source: WikiLeaks

Document 6: Bahrain’s changing political scene.

ID:237614

Cable dated:2009-12-02T13:18:00

S E C R E T MANAMA 000680

SIPDIS

NEA FOR A/S FELTMAN FROM AMBASSADOR ERELI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2019
TAGS: OVIP”>OVIP, PGOV, PREL, KDEM, MARR, BA”>BA
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR MANAMA DIALOGUE, DECEMBER 11-13
REF: A. MANAMA 660 B. MANAMA 628 C. MANAMA 651

Classified By: CDA Christopher Henzel for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Jeff, you will arrive in Bahrain at a time of introspection for the Bahraini regime as this year’s IISS Manama Dialogue coincides with the tenth anniversary of King Hamad’s accession to the throne, on December 17, 1999. During those ten years, the political and security situation has improved considerably. Our challenge is to help the Bahrainis keep things moving in the right direction, a task made considerably easier by a forward-looking and sympathetic leadership.

—————————

TEN YEARS OF TRANSFORMATION

—————————

2. (C) Following the death of his father, Emir Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa in 1999, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa inherited a country torn by sectarian violence and accustomed to dealing with the Shia majority 5nderclass as a policing problem. He quickly embarked on a program of reform and reconciliation with Bahrain’s Shia: he allowed exiles to return home, abolished the State Security Courts, and restored the parliament suspended since 1975. King Hamad understands that political stability is also tied to economic prosperity, and has undertaken far-reaching economic reforms intended to increase Bahrain’s competitiveness, productivity and living standards. The result is that the Bahrain of today is a far cry from the Bahrain of the 1990s. Political parties operate freely and are preparing for a third parliamentary election cycle in 2010 (ref A). Street protests are significantly fewer and less violent. Perhaps most tellingly, the leader of the mainstream Shia Wifaq party has told us unequivocally that Wifaq will continue to engage in parliamentary politics because he believes there is more to gain in the long run by participating than by boycotting.

————————————

REGIONAL SECURITY AND FOREIGN POLICY

————————————

3. (C) A graduate of the Mons Officer Cadet School and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, King Hamad takes a leading role in directing Bahrain’s security policy, and carries the title of Supreme Commander. During his three decades as Crown Prince, he personally built the Bahrain Defense Force from the ground up, relying heavily on U.S. equipment and training. King Hamad believes that the peace and prosperity of the Gulf is a result of U.S. protection and friendship. The U.S. Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain and two U.S. Patriot batteries are also stationed here. Bahrain’s leaders are thus strong and outspoken proponents of a close and enduring security relationship between the United States and the region.

4. (C) Bahrain was designated a Major Non-NATO Ally in 2002, and King Hamad believes it is important that Bahrain do its part in support of regional security. In March 2008, Bahrain became the first Arab country to take command of CTF-152, one of the coalition’s naval task forces in the Persian Gulf. They have also deployed as part of the CTF-151 anti-piracy mission in the Arabian Sea. On December 16, King Hamad will personally see off a company of Bahraini Special Security Forces, who will be departing to serve as part of coalition operations in Afghanistan. This activism marks Bahrain as a leader among GCC states and has encouraged others such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia to become more involved.

5. (C) King Hamad views an activist foreign policy as essential for a small state like Bahrain that wants its interests to be considered in the region. He chose the forward-leaning Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa as his foreign minister. In June, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa penned a Washington Post op-ed in which he called on Arab leaders to engage with the Israeli people in support of the Arab Peace Initiative. Shortly thereafter, Bahraini officials traveled to Tel Aviv to bring back several Bahrainis who had been aboard a relief ship that was taken into Israeli custody when it tried to enter Gaza. Even modest steps in the direction of Israel set off criticism from local media and from members of parliament decrying “normalization.” Recently, MPs in the elected (and Islamist-dominated) lower house voted to criminalize any contact with Israel or Israeli citizens (ref B) even though most recognized that the (appointed) upper house will ensure the bill never becomes law.

6. (C) Bahrain was one of the first Gulf states to reopen its embassy in Baghdad, and, while wary of the Maliki government, has reached out to Iraq politically and economically. Bahraini airlines now fly regularly to several Iraqi cities. The King has established a relationship with Sayyid Ammar Al Hakim, chairman of the Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq. During Hakim’s recent visit to Bahrain (ref C), King Hamad asked for his support in channeling the energies of Bahraini Shia in a positive direction, and told Hakim that he would do what he could to get the Saudis to engage with Iraq. Bahrain maintains correct relations with Iran, but has no illusions about the threat it poses to the region. Bahrain quietly supports international pressure on Iran, and consulting with the leadership will ensure that we maintain that support.

—————-

POLITICAL VISION

—————-

7. (C) King Hamad understands that Bahrain cannot prosper if he rules by repression. Bahrain’s civil society is active and is engaged with Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) programming. There is more religious freedom in Bahrain than in most neighboring countries; Sunni and Shia mosques stand alongside Christian churches and Hindu temples. The National Charter (e.g., constitution) won approval in a 2000 referendum and restored the parliament that had been suspended in 1975. Two election cycles have seen the integration of the Shia opposition into the political process. While a Shia rejectionist fringe continues to boycott the process, their influence remains limited as the mainstream Wifaq party has shown an ability to work with the government to achieve results for its constituents. Discrimination against Shia persists, however, and the government has sought to deflect criticism by engaging with Wifaq and focusing more public spending on housing and social welfare projects. So long as Wifaq remains convinced of the benefits of political participation, the long-term outlook for Bahrain’s stability is good.

————————

COUNTERTERRORISM EFFORTS

————————

8. (S) The 2004 withdrawal of U.S. Navy dependents represented the nadir in our counterterrorism relationship. Since then, the government has enacted a tough, new CT law and has used it to obtain several convictions against Al Qaeda financiers and facilitators. Much of that success is connected to the King’s installation of new, more capable leadership at both the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the Bahrain National Security Agency (BNSA) in 2006 and 2008, respectively. BNSA routinely shares high-quality intel and seeks out joint operations opportunities. MOI has proven itself highly capable of maintaining internal security. The U.S. is contributing to the CT mission through the provision of a coastal radar system via Section 1206 funding that will give Bahrain (and the U.S. Navy) a 360 degree field of vision around the island.

—————

ECONOMIC VISION

—————

9. (C) Unlike its neighbors, Bahrain is not blessed with abundant oil and gas, and so has diversified its economy, establishing itself as the world’s leading center for Islamic banking and finance. This sector generates just over one quarter of domestic GDP. Bahrain also boasts a strong regional tourism sector that accounts for a significant portion of GDP. The country produces approximately 35,000 barrels/day of oil, which is all refined locally, and 1.2 billion standard cubic feet/day of gas, which is all consumed domestically. In order to maintain economic growth, Bahrain must find additional sources of energy. The government has sought cheap gas from both Saudi Arabia and Qatar to no avail, and is currently engaged in slow-rolling talks with Iran. Contacts have asserted that discussions with Iran are aimed at getting the Saudis and Qataris off the dime.

10. (C) Bahrain has also expressed long-term interest in nuclear power, and in March, 2008 signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. on civilian nuclear cooperation. It has joined the IAEA and has deposited its Safeguards Agreement with that organization. The Government of Bahrain has formed an inter-ministerial committee to study the use of nuclear energy for power generation, and although the GOB recognizes that they do not have the resources to develop or operate a nuclear reactor on their own, they need the power and are interested in moving forward, ideally with an American commercial partner.

11. (U) In August 2006, the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement entered into force — the culmination of a multiyear effort to open and reform Bahrain’s economy. (In 2009, the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal ranked Bahrain as the freest economy in the Middle East, and the 16th freest in the world). Since the FTA went into effect, total bilateral trade has increased more than 25%. Bahrain recently rolled out its “Economic Vision 2030” plan, a statement of the GOB’s aspirations for Bahrain’s economy, government and society. The plan establishes broad goals of economic diversification and the construction of a strong middle-class as the basis for Bahrain’s future.

—————-

LEADERSHIP STYLE

—————-

12. (C) King Hamad is personable and engaging. He rules as something of a “corporate king,” giving direction and letting his top people manage the government. He has overseen the development of strong institutions with the restoration of parliament, the formation of a legal political opposition, and a dynamic press. He is gradually shifting power from his uncle, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who remains the head of the government, to his son, the Crown Prince. Crown Prince Salman received his high school education at the DOD school in Bahrain and earned a BA”>BA from American University in 1985. He is very Western in his approach and is closely identified with the reformist camp within the ruling family – particularly with respect to economic and labor reforms designed to combat corruption and modernize Bahrain’s economic base. King Hamad is committed to fighting corruption and prefers doing business with American firms because they are transparent. U.S. companies have won major contracts in the past two years, including: Gulf Air’s purchase of 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, a USD 5 billion joint-venture with Occidental Petroleum to revitalize the Awali field, and well over USD 300 million in Foreign Military Sales.

———————–

HUMAN RIGHTS AND REFORM

———————–

13. (C) Internally, the acquittal of ten Shia men in October on charges of killing a Pakistani policeman in April 2008 has served to lower sectarian tensions. Local media reported that the presiding judge explained that the defendants’ claims that they confessed under duress had influenced his verdict. Despite this, the GOB’s overall record on human rights remains positive on the whole. Allegations of private and government discrimination against Shia persist, but the democratic reforms of the past ten years have radically changed the political space. The mainstream Shia opposition, Wifaq, remains committed to the political process and the parliamentary experiment has been largely successful (ref A). Shia rejectionist groups Haq and Wafa’ inspire the youths who occasionally clash with police, but have not seriously threatened Wifaq’s hold on the Shia street.

14. (C) Bahrain remains on the Tier Two Watchlist for human trafficking, but has enacted an anti-trafficking law and achieved one conviction. The government is also pursuing labor market reforms aimed at eliminating the sponsorship system. On August 1, it introduced labor mobility – allowing foreign workers to change jobs without obtaining prior permission from the current employer. G/TIP Ambassador CdeBaca’s told GOB officials during his November 12 visit that they needed to focus on prosecution and victim identification. The Justice Minister noted during their meeting that Bahrain had prosecuted 280 trafficking-related crimes over the past year.

15. (C) Deputy Special Envoy for Middle East Peace Hale will have just met with the Foreign Minister on December 5 to brief him on recent developments.

HENZEL


Source: WikiLeaks

Document 7: King Hamad and Bahrain’s relationship with the US.

ID:237626

Cable dated:2009-12-02T13:59:00

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 MANAMA 000681

SIPDIS

CIA FOR DNI BLAIR FROM AMBASSADOR ERELI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2019
TAGS: OVIP”>OVIP, PGOV, PREL, KDEM, MARR, BA”>BA
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR MANAMA DIALOGUE, DECEMBER 11-13
REF: A. MANAMA 660 B. MANAMA 628 C. MANAMA 651

Classified By: CDA Christopher Henzel nor reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

XXXXXXXXXXXX

—————-

LEADERSHIP STYLE

—————-

12. (C) King Hamad is personable and engaging. He rules as something of a “corporate king,” giving direction and letting his top people manage the government. He has overseen the development of strong institutions with the restoration of parliament, the formation of a legal political opposition, and a dynamic press. He is gradually shifting power from his uncle, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who remains the head of the government, to his son, the Crown Prince. Crown Prince Salman received his high school education at the DOD school in Bahrain and earned a BA”>BA from American University in 1985. He is very Western in his approach and is closely identified with the reformist camp within the ruling family – particularly with respect to economic and labor reforms designed to combat corruption and modernize Bahrain’s economic base. King Hamad is committed to fighting corruption and prefers doing business with American firms because they are transparent. U.S. companies have won major contracts in the past two years, including: Gulf Air’s purchase of 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, a USD 5 billion joint-venture with Occidental Petroleum to revitalize the Awali field, and well over USD 300 million in Foreign Military Sales.

—————–

INTEL COOPERATION

—————–

13. (S) Director of BNSA Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdallah Al Khalifa figures prominently into the King’s efforts on reform and stability. Charged by the King to “Bahrainize” and professionalize BNSA, Sheikh Khalifa is determined to rid BNSA of the last vestiges of British influence and grow BNSA into a world-class intelligence and security service with global reach. Sheikh Khalifa understands well that if he is to fulfill his mandate of protecting Bahrain, he must “go deep” and develop robust intelligence liaison relationships with partners around the world. To that end, he has embarked on a program to establish and strengthen intelligence ties abroad, with a central focus on counterterrorism. Against this backdrop, Sheikh Khalifa unabashedly positions his relationship with the U.S. Intelligence Community above all others, insisting that his key lieutenants communicate openly with their U.S. liaison partners and actively seek new avenues for cooperation. In your discussions, you will find Sheikh Khalifa to be frank and likeable, and he will no doubt emphasize his sincere desire to continue strengthening the already excellent relationship he enjoys with the U.S.

HENZEL


2 Comments to “WikiLeaks: No Evidence of Iran’s Hand in Bahrain Simmering Unrest”

  1. #WikiLeaks: No Evidence of #Iran’s Hand in #Bahrain Simmering #Unrest
    | #protests #US http://j.mp/fNSaZ0

  2. avatar Elisabeth says:

    RT @CrethiPlethi: #WikiLeaks: No Evidence of #Iran’s Hand in #Bahrain Simmering #Unrest
    | #protests #US http://j.mp/fNSaZ0


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