Sat Dec 8, 2012 8:20AM
British Foreign Secretary William Hague has given the go-ahead to more Bahraini crackdown on pro-democracy protesters by attending a high-profile security conference in the tiny Persian Gulf country, which was cancelled last year over the “situation” in Bahrain. The Bahraini capital of Manama is hosting the 8th invitation-only Manama Dialogue, which is an annual conference held in Bahrain by the al-Khalifa government and the London-based think-tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). The 8th Manama Dialogue was originally planned for December 2011 but the IISS and the Bahraini government decided to call it offbecause of the Bahraini uprising against the al-Khalifa regime and the regime’s violent crackdown on demonstrations. However, this year’s conference is being held despite the fact that the crisis remains unresolved in Bahrain. Hague has laid British weight behind the security event with a planned address on sectarian issues in the Middle East. Hague is accompanied in his visit by Lord Astor of Hever, MOD Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Government Spokesperson, and General Sir David Richards, the Chief of the Defence Staff. This comes as the Bahraini government has not reserved its delight at the fact that foreign dignitaries including the British Foreign Secretary and his senior cohort. “The 8th edition of Manama Dialogue … confirms Bahrain’s acknowledged status the map of global forums and conferences,” the state-owned Bahrain News Agency said in a report on December 3. Hague’s attendance in the meeting is especially problematic as it is not planned to discuss Bahrain’s own crisis and will rather focus on the Syrian situation, counter-terrorism, sectarian politics in the Middle East and security in the Strait of Hormuz. AMR/HE