During 2011 most countries in the Middle East experienced civil unrest. For many a tumultuous year led to long standing regimes being toppled. The people of some countries are still getting to grips with their new found freedom. Bahrain appears to be precisely where it was.
In December 2011 Bahrain hired former UK assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police,John Yates. Earlier in the year he had resigned from his job with the Met amidst the UK phone hacking scandal. His appointment in Bahrain followed an independent report on human rights breaches in that country. Yates was supposedly hired to reform the Bahrain police force. Along with John Timoney, a former head of Miami police, the pair were going to bring the force up to International Human Rights standards. The abuse involved use of excessive force, torture and summary justice. At least 20 police officers facing such allegations were to stand trial.
So has anything changed?
This week was the February 14 anniversary. Violence flared ahead of the anniversary and has continued. Youths were reported to be rioting, throwing petrol bombs and carrying iron bars. The police responded heavily using tear gas. There are reports of tear gas being thrown into the homes of rebels, some of which has led to death. Th Bahrain authorities maintain that it is just thugs rioting.
Last year the UK supplied the Bahrain regime with arms. The MoD eventually revoked the licenses to supply the weaponry. Too little too late though.
Reuters has reported, "King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa told the nation in an address on state television on the anniversary eve that he remained committed to reforms launched a decade ago, a process the opposition has dismissed as cosmetic. "(This) marked the launch of a development and modernization process, which is still moving forward to meet the aspirations of our loyal people in all areas," said the king, whose family has run the Gulf island state for over 200 years. He said he had pardoned 291 prisoners, but they did not include those arrested during last year's revolt. The opposition are demanding the release of 14 leading figures who were jailed by a military court for allegedly trying to stage a coup."