Back from Bahrain

May 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today, I returned from my first trip back to Bahrain in nearly a year. During this time, I had the opportunity to observe and discuss ongoing developments in the Kingdom first hand. And despite what misleading news reports have suggested, Bahrain ’s government remains as committed to achieving comprehensive national reconciliation as ever.

I was especially pleased to learn about the ongoing security reform efforts under the leadership of Chief Tariq Al Hassan and with the help of former Miami Police Chief John F. Timoney. The Bahraini police have a very difficult job and perform well under adverse conditions.

I was particularly struck by the restraint of the police in the face of escalating violence by protestors. Although the size of the demonstrations has diminished over time, the smaller bands of protestors have become more radical. In the last month alone, two bombings have specifically targeted the police and have resulted in many serious injuries. On a nightly basis, police face coordinated and overwhelming firebomb attacks that have seriously wounded many officers. These officers face these Molotov cocktail attacks with only teargas and other non-lethal crowd control tools. Despite what you may have heard, Bahraini police rarely carry firearms capable of firing live-ammunition and exercise tremendous restraint in the face of adversity.

Bahrain continues to move forward with political and security reform, but has not seen a reciprocal response from the opposition. It is important that the opposition condemn this violence and return to negotiations.

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