STATEMENTS

Saudi CP’s visit marred by controversy; More Bahrainis detained, tortured

There is mounting evidence that the visit to UK by the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) is the last chance to extricate him from the mess he had created for himself, his family and his country. In return for up to $100 billions expected to be committed by the Saudis, the UK’s assistance is needed in four major crisis; the doomed war on Yemen that MBS had waged three years ago, the debacle of his forces in Bahrain since their invasion in mid-March 2011, the losing battle with Qatar that he had also initiated and the internal crisis within the House of Saud which he also had started six months ago. The visit which starts today has been shrouded in controversy before it started. There is wide opposition to the visit from many sectors of the British society, despite the mouth-watering billions of dollars expected from the guest of honour. Anti-war, anti-arms and human rights activists have been planning to disrupt the visit with protests, seminars, press conferences, petitions and parliamentary statements and questions. The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, has repeated his earlier pledges to stop arms supplies to the Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as long as they remain engaged in the criminal war on Yemen. Bus tours were organised with bill boards attacking the Saudi and Emirati crown princes for causing tragedies in the Arab World.

In USA lawmakers last week unveiled plans to use a decades-old law to force a Senate vote on whether to pull the country out of a foreign conflict, in this case the civil war in Yemen. Republican Senator Mike Lee, independent Bernie Sanders and Democrat Chris Murphy said they would make the first attempt to take advantage of a provision in the 1973 War Powers Act that allows any senator to introduce a resolution on whether to withdraw U.S. armed forces from a conflict not authorized by Congress. Their action was the latest salvo in an ongoing battle between the U.S. Congress and the White House over control of military conflicts. “We believe that, as Congress has not declared war or authorized military force, this conflict (in Yemen) is unconstitutional and unauthorized,” Sanders told a news conference. Lawmakers have argued for years that Congress has ceded too much authority over the military to the White House.

In today’s The Guardian, Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary published an article titled: “Britain’s red carpet for the Saudi ruler is shameless” detailing the UK government’s support of the Saudi regime and the supply of weapons used in the war on Yemen. The article said: Britain is the official pen-holder for the United Nations Security Council on matters relating to Yemen. In October 2016, our government floated a draft resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire in the country to allow for immediate humanitarian relief and talks on a political solution. Prince Mohammed’s acolytes immediately objected, and 17 months on that draft resolution has still not been formally presented to the council. And so his brutal, murderous war continues, without anyone in our government lifting a pen to stop him. Instead, today they fete the crown prince. But millions of us will be saying: not in my name.”

In an attempt to ditch the responsibility for murdering hundreds of native Bahrainis, Alkhalifa killers have been intimidating the families of the martyrs to force them to forget what had happened to their murdered sons. On 4thMarch masked members of Alkhalifa Death Squads raided the home of Martyr Mustafa Yousuf, interrogated his elderly mother and handed her summons for her three daughters to appear at the torture centre. The native Bahraini was executed last year in a boat at sea with two others; Redha Al Ghasra and Mahmood Yousuf. On 1stMarch, regime’s courts issued five years jail sentences against six prisoners of conscience from Bouri Town; Ali Nasser, Hussain Mohamad Abu Taki, Mohammad Ahmad AlMirri, Ali Abdul Aziz Al Mirri, Ahmad Mohammad Atiyya and Mahmoud Saber Al Mirri.

On Saturday 3rd March Alkhalifa interior ministry said it had arrested 116 people claiming they belonged to yet another “terrorist cell”. To justify the ill-treatment of the group the regime claimed they had links to Iran’s revolutionary guards and Lebanese Hezbullah. Almost every Bahraini detained or killed has been accused of links with these groups. Alkhalifa dictator believes the claim would absolve him of the crimes he had committed including torture, extra-judicial killing, revocation of nationality and banishment.

On 1st March the Fitch Ratings Agency downgraded Bahrain’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘BB-‘ from ‘BB+’. The downgrade reflects the following key rating drivers: The government has yet to identify a clear medium-term strategy to tackle high deficits and there is no clarity on a timeline towards the development of such a strategy. The government has continued to implement a number of measures to raise revenue and trim spending, including excise taxes at end-2017 and fuel price increases in January 2018. However, the consolidation effort is not close to stabilising government debt/GDP, which increased to 81.5% in 2017 from 73.3% in 2016 and from less than 40% in 2012. We project government debt/GDP to rise above 100% in the medium term.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

7th March 2018 (info@vob.org, www.vob.org)

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