Bahrain rejects ‘attempts by Qatar to politicize Hajj’

• Manama accuses Doha of sponsoring 2011 terrorism in Bahrain
• Bahraini authorities disband terrorist cell in the archipelago sheikdom

August 6
Bahraini foreign minister rejects attacks on Saudi Arabia and attempts by Qatar to politicize Hajj

In an interview with al-Arabiya, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa stressed that Manama rejects possible attacks on Saudi Arabia. The minister also condemned Qatar’s attempts to politicize this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.

August 9
UAE denies opening airspace to Qatar-registered aircraft
The UAE’s Civil Aviation Authority has denied reports that the kingdom has opened its airspace to any Qatari aircraft, while clarifying that the airspace above the international waters administered by the UAE, on the other hand, is open to Qatari aircraft.

August 13
Iraq and Bahrain affirm united front against terrorism
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met in Baghdad with Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, to proclaim the two countries’ combined front against terrorism. Al-Abadi also called for an end to sectarian segregation, which he said only advantages the terrorist groups. The Bahraini minister congratulated Abadi for the Iraq forces’ victory over Daesh (“Islamic State”) in Mosul.

Analysis: Al-Abadi and Sheikh Khalid’s meeting was part of the Saudi-led rapprochement between key GCC states and Baghdad. Bahrain’s backing Riyadh in this process is critical because of the archipelago sheikdom’s own unique religio-political milieu that is similar to Iraq’s sectarianism. By reaching out to Baghdad, Manama is hoping to bring Iraq closer to the GCC and further away from Iran.

August 16
Bahrain’s legislative body accuses Qatar of seeking to topple the Al Khalifa rulers during 2011
Bahrain’s Shura Council condemned Doha for allegedly attempting to “spark chaos and undermine stability” during the island sheikdom’s “Arab Spring” uprising of 2011. According to the legislative body’s statement, a discussion between Qatar’s former foreign minister and the al-Wefaq leader evidenced Doha’s efforts to sponsor regime change in Manama amid Bahrain’s

August 19
Al-Wefaq discounts reports of 2011 Qatari involvement
The Bahrain-based opposition group al-Wefaq has declared that media reports of Qatari incitement of violence during 2011 are fabricated. The opposition society has discounted a claim by the Bahraini media that a phone call between the former Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, and the Bahrain opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, concerned the incitement of violence against the state.22

August 21
Bahrain’s Prime Minister receives Southern Governor
Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa received the new newly-appointed Southern Governor, Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali bin Khlaifa Al Khalifa, congratulating him on the “competence, ambition, and keenness” with which he is carrying out his duties as Southern Governor. The Premier lauded the essential role that governorates play in keeping the government in touch with its citizens.23

August 23
Bahrain’s Parliament to file international lawsuit against Qatar
Bahrain’s First Deputy Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Ali al-Aradi, has called for the filing of an international lawsuit against the Qatari government for its support of radical groups within the archipelago kingdom since 2011. A dossier detailing Qatar’s crimes
against Bahrain and its support for terrorist groups will be submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Affected citizens are being urged to come forward and contribute to the documentation of the violations.

Many Bahraini MPs support the move, insisting that Qatar tried to exploit human rights issues to malign the image of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Al-Aradi declared that “the representatives of the people will not remain passive while our beloved Kingdom is targeted. The masks have fallen…the Qatari claim that it was engaged in mediation efforts no longer fools anyone…”

August 24
Bahrain disbands suspected terrorist cell
According to al-Arabiya, Bahraini authorities have dismantled a ten-member suspected terrorist cell, managed by 31-year-old Hussein Ali Ahmed Dawood. Dawood was one of the leaders of the Saraya al-Ashtar, the armed wing of the so-called al-Wafaa Islamic movement. He is closely linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Having fled Bahrain, he had been living in Iran. Bahraini investigators discovered a trove of incriminating information that led to the seizure of large quantities of highly explosive materials in centrally populated areas.

August 25
Tehran dismisses Bahraini claims of Iranian interference
Iran’s Press TV reported that Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi has called on Manama to stop “playing a blame game” with regard to alleged Iranian interference in the kingdom’s internal affairs. Qassemi declared that “the Islamic Republic has never been a promoter of violence and destabilizing actions in neighboring countries, including Bahrain.” He added that Manama’s allegation coincides with findings by human rights groups concerning the Bahraini regime’s widespread use of torture against political prisoners. The Iranian official also condemned Manama for its killing of scores of Shi’ite-majority grassroots protesters.26

August 29
Manama claims proof of Doha’s involvement in Bahrain’s unrest of 2011
According to the Bahrain News Agency (BNA), there is new evidence of Qatar’s having conspired against Bahrain during the events of 2011. Cybersecurity experts claim that Doha used social media to publish false stories, fomenting sectarian strife and prompting
demonstrators to take to the streets. BNA concluded that “Bahrain’s unfortunate incidents of 2011 were not a people’s movement but a systematic destructive plot, created and supported by Qatar’s regime and security agencies as well as its agents who coordinated and monitored the events after the first spark was ignited.”

Photo credit: Flickr/Creative Commons/Al-Jazeera