U.S. Warns Protests Could "Break Apart" Bahrain, Topple Regime

The Obama administration is quietly warning that Bahrain’s ongoing internal unrest could lead to the overthrow of the ruling Sunni monarchy. Protests have continued in Bahrain for nearly two years despite a U.S.-backed crackdown that has seen the use of military forces from neighboring Gulf regimes, the jailing and beating of opposition activists, and the recent ban of all public demonstrations. In a briefing to reporters last week, two State Department officials warned that Bahrain could "break apart" if the protests continue, an outcome they say would be beneficial to Iran while detrimental to the "enormous [U.S.] security interests" in Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The officials gave the briefing on the condition they not be identified by name. The White House says it is calling on Bahrain to heed the calls of an independent commission that urged political reforms one year ago. At the United Nations, a spokesperson for the high commissioner for human rights criticized Bahrain’s recent moves against the opposition, including revoking the citizenship of 31 political figures as well as sentencing medics who treated wounded protesters to three months behind bars.

Rupert Colville: "The high commissioner urges the government to reconsider this decision, which stands in clear violation of Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that, again I quote, 'Everyone has the right to a nationality,' and 'No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.' The high commissioner is also concerned by the sentencing of 23 medical professionals on the 21st of November, and reiterates her call on the authorities to release all individuals who have been detained or sentenced simply for exercising their right to demonstrate peacefully."

The United Nations says it will send a fact-finding mission to assess human rights conditions in Bahrain early next month.

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