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Apr 29, 2012

Wary of Iran, Saudis seek progress on Gulf union

DUBAI (Reuters) – Wary of Iran and regional protest movements, Gulf Arab states are pushing ahead with plans for a political union that would involve joint foreign and defense policies, the Saudi foreign minister said in a speech at the weekend.

The comments by Prince Saud al-Faisal come two weeks ahead of a summit of U.S.-aligned Gulf leaders in Riyadh that will review an outline for such a union after Saudi King Abdullah first floated the idea last December.

Apr 25, 2012

Fears for Bahrain hunger striker, minister defends police

DUBAI, April 25 (Reuters) – The wife of a jailed Bahraini
activist said on Wednesday she was worried for the health of her
husband after more than two months of hunger strike.

Bahrain’s interior minister, speaking after weeks of
protests against a Formula One Grand Prix here, described as a
terrorist act an explosion in a village near Manama on Tuesday
night that wounded four policemen. It said security forces had
the right to protect themselves.

Apr 24, 2012

Bahrain hardliners in driving seat after F1 fiasco

DUBAI (Reuters) – Hardliners in Bahrain’s Saudi-backed Sunni Muslim ruling family may dig in their heels after a Formula One Grand Prix debacle that spotlighted a frustrated pro-democracy uprising instead of projecting an image of stability.

Western leaders joined rights groups and media watchdogs in criticising Bahrain before Sunday’s race, which was cancelled last year due to the unrest. Officials hailed its reinstatement as proof of a return to calm, but billowing smoke from tyres set alight by protesters on race day told a different story.

Apr 24, 2012

Analysis: Bahrain hardliners in driving seat after F1 fiasco

DUBAI (Reuters) – Hardliners in Bahrain’s Saudi-backed Sunni Muslim ruling family may dig in their heels after a Formula One Grand Prix debacle that spotlighted a frustrated pro-democracy uprising instead of projecting an image of stability.

Western leaders joined rights groups and media watchdogs in criticizing Bahrain before Sunday’s race, which was cancelled last year due to the unrest. Officials hailed its reinstatement as proof of a return to calm, but billowing smoke from tires set alight by protesters on race day told a different story.

Apr 22, 2012

Analysis: No winner in the real contest of Bahrain’s Grand Prix

DUBAI (Reuters) – Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel may have won the Bahrain Grand Prix, but there was no winner in the main event: a public relations battle between the ruling Al Khalifa family and protesters in the streets over competing visions of Bahrain.

Masked youths with petrol bombs faced off nightly against riot police in armored vehicles, armed with batons, tear gas, sound bombs and guns firing birdshot. At least one protester was found dead on a rooftop after a clash.

Apr 22, 2012

No winner in the real contest of Bahrain’s Grand Prix

DUBAI, April 22 (Reuters) – Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel may
have won the Bahrain Grand Prix, but there was no winner in the
main event: a public relations battle between the ruling Al
Khalifa family and protesters in the streets over competing
visions of Bahrain.

Masked youths with petrol bombs faced off nightly against
riot police in armoured vehicles, armed with batons, tear gas,
sound bombs and guns firing birdshot. At least one protester was
found dead on a rooftop after a clash.

Apr 19, 2012

Game of brinkmanship in Bahrain over hunger strike

MANAMA/DUBAI (Reuters) – Bahrain’s government and a jailed Shi’ite rights activist who is on hunger strike are playing a game of brinkmanship as his health deteriorates days before the Formula One Grand Prix, a showcase event for the Gulf state as its grapples with political unrest.

To release Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, one of 14 men in prison for leading an uprising last year, would be a comedown for a government that has failed to quell a movement led by majority Shi’ites seeking democratic reforms that would reduce the Sunni dynasty’s power.

Apr 18, 2012

Bahrain activists vow “days of rage” for Grand Prix

DUBAI (Reuters) – Anti-government protesters in Bahrain are planning “days of rage” directed at this weekend’s Formula One Grand Prix, while security forces have rounded up dozens of activists in a clampdown on the opposition in the Gulf Arab nation.

Bahrain has been in turmoil since a democracy movement erupted last year after uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Apr 17, 2012

Bahrain arrests protest leaders ahead of F1 amid torture reports

DUBAI (Reuters) – Bahrain has arrested at least 60 Shi’ite protest leaders in recent days to try to prevent widescale unrest ahead of a controversial Formula One Grand Prix this week, activists said on Tuesday.

News of the crackdown coincided with a statement from Amnesty International which said it was getting credible reports of the use of torture in the Gulf Arab state despite promises of reform.

Apr 4, 2012

Sunnis seek own voice in Bahrain’s turmoil

MANAMA, April 5 (Reuters) – Bahrain’s Sunni Muslim minority,
fearful of Shi’ite political assertiveness, is spawning factions
that rail against compromise with the island’s sectarian
majority, while nursing their own grudges against its Sunni
ruling family.

The emergence of hardline Sunni groups is further evidence
of sectarian polarisation in Bahrain, where a Shi’ite-led
opposition movement persists despite the crushing of the mass
protests it organised during last year’s burst of Arab revolts.

    • About Andrew

      "I write on Iranian and Gulf Arab politics, based in Dubai. I was previously based in Riyadh, in charge of Reuters Saudi small but growing editorial operation, and before that was based in Egypt. I have also reported for Reuters from Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Israel and the Occupied Territories. I am the author of two books, "Popular Culture in the Arab World" and "What the Arabs Think of America", and read Arabic, Farsi and French."
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