Is the Foreign Office facing both ways over the troubles in Bahrain?

Andy McSmith
Bahrain 300x225 Is the Foreign Office facing both ways over the troubles in Bahrain?

(Getty Images)

The Arab kingdom of Bahrain has not lacked British visitors this month. The Foreign Office minister, Alistair Burt is just back, members of the Commons Foreign Affairs committee have just arrived, and the former Defence Secretary Liam Fox will be there over the Easter weekend. His office say that he is there to discuss defence matters, including the basing of the British fleet off Bahrain, with the Foreign Office’s support.

At this busy time, the British Ambassador, Iain Lindsay, has given an interview to Bahrain’s main newspaper, the Gulf Daily News, in which he labelled some of the protesters as ‘terrorists, full stop’, suggested that they were taking instructions from Iran, and attacked a recent report on Bahrain by Human Rights Watch “as deeply unhelpful, condescending and patronising.” He also remarked that “British companies should be able to pick up at least £1bn worth of business here over the next five to 10 years,” a prospect which may or may not colour his attitude to civil rights in the kingdom.

These remarks, if they have been accurately reported, sit oddly alongside what Alistair Burt told MPs upon his return - “The UK remains concerned about the situation in Bahrain… Progress is being made in Bahrain, albeit slowly… but more needs to be done.”

It is almost as if the Foreign Office is saying one thing at home, and another over there.

  • creggancowboy

    Like when Bliar sold arms to Indonesia to be used on civilians in East Timor? Gee the FCO would not LIE to us Andy?

  • fred willie

    I like Ian Lindsey the British Ambassador actually live in Bahrain unlike the many others passing comments including the author. What the ambassador said about local terrorists was correctly reported and without doubt is factually correct. If someone places a bomb intended to kill members of the public which they have done, they are a terrorists, if someone attacks either the police or the general public with a Molotov cocktail which they have done they are a terrorist, if someone attack schools while children are inside 154 attacks on schools this year alone, they are a terrorist. When protesters murder Asian workers because they are Asian which they have done they are terrorists.

    Bahrain is a tiny place only 17kms wide 65 long, its a giant village, we all know whats going on. We see it daily, work with people both expat and local that are affected even involved. During the last two years of troubles here which incidentally started way back in the early 80’s shortly after the Shah was deposed, I have to say in all that time I have not read a single factually correct account of what has actually been going on here. I look out my window evey day witness events then read absolute rubbish of the same event in the western media. I have lived and worked in Bahrain for 30 years and will only leave if the sectarian Shia theocrates Ayatollahs behind the violence actually manage to take over. I respect Ian Linsey the British Ambassador for speaking out, for calling a spade a spade, its a shame the media cannot be as open or honest. The media simply want to continue bashing the Gulf monarchies sensationalise headlines however they can not change the truth. A truth thousands have experienced themselves & one many more will see for themselves if they visit during the F1 – Bahrain is actually a nice place its people the vast majority like it as it used to be pre feb14 2011 and will be again in the future. Warts and all I like this place.

  • articuleum

    So the protesters in Bahrain are terrorists and the armed militants in Syria are freedom fighters?

    Talk about having a consistent foreign policy

  • fred willie

    How many expats CHOOSE to work and live in Syria – how many in Bahrain. Here out of a population of only 1.23 million people – please note how small the country is, not much bigger than a medium size town in most countries – the majority of residents, 56% are expatriate – If Bahrain were in any way shape or form, similar to Syria do you really think these people myself included would stay – Your ignorance is showing.

    I can pop down the pub anytime I want, have a good pint, chomp on a bacon butty, then irrespective of my religious leanings visit one of the many churches or temples even a synagogue if I so wish. My wife can walk safely in the street day or night wear a bikini at the beach, drive, work or attend knitting classes. The same goes for the locals unless that is you are a Shia, for whom their religious leaders insist that the laws here for equal rights for women, does not apply to their sect of Islam. This is despite an elected parliament which includes 5 women, our very outspoken female ministers and leading women activists which includes the Kings Wife trying to change this.

    Other than insulting Islam, slandering the the Royal family or making a sectarian hate speech, I am free to say what I like, where and when I like. In my book since the rules apply to all residents, the government of Bahrain is hardly the despotic dictatorship portrayed in the media. However if you were to apply that label to the local Ayatollahs running the street gangs that initiate or instigate and manipulate the violence we see here then you might get a better sense of whats going on.

    Yes the police did use draconian methods back in 2011 however had you been here, seen just how free and open this society actually was you might like me think it justified. They did however make mistakes, big mistake but had the maturity to hold an open International inquiry and are now trying to move on from that by an acceptance of and in recognition of the mistakes highlighted. When you consider just how long has the Iraq inquiry been in the pipeline in the UK the progress made here since October 2011 is remarkable. So some claim its taking time so what, Rome wasn’t built in a day. When did the US ban slavery and segregation, how long did it take for the aftermath of the American Civil war to be applied. Martin Luther King did exist a hundred years on.

    If the west stopped their bloody interference in the Middle East, applied a fair policy to all with no exceptions like Israel. Stopped thinking that the days of empire are still alive and well and that they know best. That they have a solution that can be applied to all then we might get somewhere.

    I find it odd that countries that cannot even control street gangs in their own cities. still allow torture, extra judicial killings, rendition and operate detention without trial or simply want immunity for the action of their own troops have the audacity to preach to the rest of the world.

  • Hussain

    Over all, ppl in bahrain looking to have more freedom and democracy, all lie which released by bahrain goverment to the world press ( like pomp and guns etc. ), cannot be a fact caz no benefit from that ((simple).

    Ppl here still standing for there demands and whatever it cost they well never give UP.

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