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from Bernd Debusmann:

The arms race for human rights

Profits from arms deals tend to trump human rights. The United Nations Security Council, whose five veto-wielding permanent members count among the world’s biggest arms dealers, is falling down on its job. Hypocrisy is rampant as governments pay lip service to human rights.

So says Amnesty International, the London-based human rights organization, in its latest annual report, published this week. It deplores an “endemic failure of leadership” and says 2011 – the year of the Arab Spring – had made clear that “opportunistic alliances and financial interests have trumped human rights as global powers jockey for influence…”

That reference covers Russia, chief armorer of the government of Bashar al-Assad, as well as the United States, which recently resumed arms shipments to the royal rulers of tiny Bahrain, whose crackdown on dissidents has been brutal, though not nearly on the same scale as the campaign to wipe out the opposition in Syria.  The death toll there now stands at around 10,000.

To hear Amnesty Secretary General Salil Shetty tell it, the leaders who have so far failed to match human rights rhetoric with arms export deed have a chance to redeem themselves at a United Nations conference next July to work out a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), an idea first put forward in 2003 by a group of Nobel laureates who argued that existing arms control regulations are full of loopholes.

from Breakingviews:

Saudis wouldn’t gain much from a union with Bahrain

By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Saudi Arabia’s call for Gulf nations to combine into a single entity appears to lay the ground for some kind of union with Bahrain. King Abdullah first highlighted the security issues facing the region when its leaders met in December - nine months after the kingdom sent tanks to tame a pro-democracy movement in Bahrain. Speculation is now swirling about how the relationship between the strongest and weakest members of the six-nation bloc could evolve, ahead of a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council this week.

from Full Focus:

Images of April

Photographer Bobby Yip traveled to North Korea for a rare look inside the secretive nation as they prepared to launch a rocket. Protests continued in Bahrain ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix and Los Angeles marked 20 years since the riots sparked by the beating of Rodney King. Other subjects included in the gallery include a goat in New York City and Olympic preparations around the globe. WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

from Breakingviews:

Formula One has much to lose in Bahrain race

By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Formula One has failed to see the red flag in Bahrain. The prestigious sporting event won’t gain much from holding a fixture on this tiny Gulf island still in turmoil from its Arab uprising, amid sharp condemnation of human rights abuses. Pushing on with the weekend event looks like a stubborn and risky miscalculation.

from Full Focus:

Images of March

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Japan marked the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Voting took place in Myanmar in what was hailed as a step towards democratic change. A shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse rocked France.

from Breakingviews:

Hedge funds show banks how to recoup loans to Gulf

By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Hedge funds are showing banks how to get their money back from Gulf borrowers. Privately-owned Bahraini investment house Arcapita is following in the footsteps of General Motors and Chrysler by filing for U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after non-bank creditors opposed extending a $1.1 billion loan facility due in March.

from Global Investing:

A scar on Bahrain’s financial marketplace

Bahrain's civil unrest -- which had a one-year anniversary this week -- has taken a toll on the local economy and left a deep scar on the Gulf state's aspiration to become an international financial hub.

A new paper from the Sovereign Wealth Fund Initiative, a research programme at Center for Emerging Market Enterprises (CEME) at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, examines how the political instability of 2011 is threatening Bahrain's efforts in the past 30 years to diversify its economy and develop the financial centre.

from Full Focus:

Images of September

September marked ten years since the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The fighting continued in Libya as the rebels closed in on Gaddafi strongholds and Palestinian President Abbas made a bid for statehood recognition at the U.N. This selection of our top photos of the month includes these news stories alongside the ongoing Dale Farm case, New York fashion week and a giant vegetable contest. WARNING: Graphic content

from FaithWorld:

Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian divide widens after Bahrain unrest

(A new sign showing the direction towards Al Farooq Junction, previously known as Pearl Square, stands along a road in Manama May 31, 2011. Bahraini authorities demolished the monument in Pearl Square in March following the country's unrest where thousands of Shiite Muslims protested by camping there/Hamad I Mohammed)

Sectarian tension between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims has reached new heights in Bahrain after pro-democracy protests that the Sunni minority government crushed with martial law and foreign military forces. Inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, Sunni and Shi'ite Bahrainis took to the streets in early February to demand political reforms in a country where the ruling Al Khalifa family appoints cabinet ministers and an upper house of parliament, neutering the powers of the elected assembly.

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