to a statement released by the White House on Friday, Biden voiced
“strong concerns regarding recent negative developments in Bahrain”
during a phone conversation with Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah
Biden also “emphasized the importance of
reducing ongoing tensions through dialogue and reconciliation with the
opposition, and a commitment to reform,” the statement added.
June 14, Manama suspended the country’s main opposition group, the
al-Wefaq National Islamic Society. The United Nations, along with other
international organizations, expressed concern, saying the move could
escalate the situation in the country.
The group’s Secretary
General Sheikh Ali Salman has been in prison since December 2014 on
charges of attempting to overthrow the regime and collaborating with
foreign powers, which he has denied. A court sentenced him to four years
in prison in June 2015.
The kingdom also dissolved two other opposition groups, namely the al-Tawiya and al-Risala Islamic associations.
protestors hold up placards depicting portraits of Sheikh Ali Salman,
head of the Shia opposition movement al-Wefaq, during clashes with riot
police following a protest against Salman’s arrest in the village of
Sitra, south of the capital Manama, on January 29, 2016. (AFP)On
June 20, the Al Khalifah regime also revoked the citizenship of
Bahrain’s leading Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, with the Interior
Ministry accusing him of seeking the “creation of a sectarian
environment” through his connections with foreign powers. The ruling,
however, drew widespread condemnation at domestic and international
In another development on Wednesday, Bahrain’s prominent
human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, was returned to prison from
hospital despite his worsening health condition.
regime is engaged in a harsh crackdown on dissent
and widespread discrimination against the country’s Shia majority in the
past couple of years. Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of
others injured or arrested in the island state, which is a close ally
of the US in the Persian Gulf region. Bahrain has also seen a wave of
anti-regime protests since mid-February 2011.
In March that year,
troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to
the country to assist the Bahraini regime in its crackdown on peaceful