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Arabic press review: Bahrain formed anti-revolution lobby in Washington in 2011

Meanwhile, UK holds talks with Yemen's Houthis, Sudan plans handing over Bashir to ICC and a cash-strapped Jordanian writer sells personal library
Bahrain registered its anti-revolution lobby on 15 March 2011, a day after the GCC agreed to deploy troops to counter mass protests (Reuters)

Bahrain created lobby to seek US support in face of 2011 protests 

US data and documents have shown that Bahrain formed the first anti-Arab Spring revolutions lobby in the United States about a decade ago, according to a report by the Arab website SasaPost.

The website launched a project under the title Pilgrimage to Washington, in an attempt to understand the activities of Arab lobbies in the US capital, where Arab countries spend huge sums of money to influence American policies in the region.

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The website said that the survey project sought to cover the activities of Middle Eastern lobbies in the US between 2010 and 2020, indicating that most of its information was based on documents from a database affiliated with the US Department of Justice, under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires lobbyists to disclose their activities and funds. All the documents are available online.

SasaPost pointed out that the team had worked on reading and studying 431 contracts and 5,500 documents, representing the total of contracts from 26 countries during that 10-year period, and consequently produced over 100 press articles.

Bahrain registered its anti-revolution lobby in Washington on 15 March 2011, a day after the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreed to deploy troops to counter the mass protests that erupted a month earlier. Manama used political lobbying and public relations companies to ensure Washington's support first before gradually increasing its suppression of the demonstrations, the report said. 

The Bahraini lobby entered its first contract with the Potomac Square Group to provide promotional services for the National Dialogue Initiative of the Bahraini Crown Prince. The company did not mention any details of its activities, but it had contacted US media outlets and newspapers, and payments had reached $40,000 within a month.

On 7 June 2011, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad arrived in Washington to meet then-president Barack Obama and National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon at the White House. That same day, the Bahraini monarch also met former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who stated that the US supports the work of the crown prince in his country. Two days later, he met with the then vice president, Joe Biden.

UK in contact with Yemen’s Houthis

Britain has been in direct contact with the Houthis in Yemen to urge them to engage in the political process and renounce violence, a senior British official said in an interview with Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

British Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly said that he has held talks with Houthi representatives, in which he highlighted three main issues related to the political solution, the rejection of violence and the release of a British detainee in Yemen.

"We spoke to them frankly and honestly. We have made it clear that Britain expects them to engage in the political process and stop the violence, because no military approach to the conflict, which has been ongoing for years, can be accepted at this stage," he said.

Cleverly also stated that his country strongly objects to the Houthi aggression, saying that "it is counterproductive and very frustrating".

Separately, the British official considered that Iran has a "chance" to re-engage with the international community, provided it respects the terms of the nuclear agreement.

"Teheran now has a real opportunity to choose a different and better way, and to re-engage with European countries, like us, and with the United States," he said.

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"But it is necessary to return to compromise, so that we can seize this positive opportunity."

Sudan intends to hand over Bashir to International Criminal Court

The transitional government in Sudan is seeking to hand over people on the International Criminal Court (ICC) most-wanted list, including former President Omar al-Bashir, said Mohamed Hassan al-Taaishi, a member of the sovereignty council.

Bashir’s defence committee has objected to the decision and said that this “challenges the Sudanese judiciary”, the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi reported.

"The government will cooperate with the International Criminal Court without any ceilings or restrictions, to hand over those wanted by the court," Taaishi said.

"I confirm that this matter will not be reversed, and I say so and I am confident that the transitional government has unanimously agreed to hand Bashir over to the criminal court."

The Sudanese official linked the extradition process to a visit by an ICC delegation to Khartoum last week to sign a protocol to guarantee the trial of wanted persons.

The delegation discussed with the Ministry of Justice and the Public Prosecution ways to reach understandings on how to hand over the former longtime dictator.

Bashir is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide and war crimes. Taaishi's statement indicates that Khartoum is heading towards handing him over to the court, two years after he was deposed by mass protests.

“There is already a consensus by all ruling parties in Sudan that Bashir should be handed over to the International Criminal Court,” Sudanese legal expert Al-Moez Hazrat told Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

Struggling Jordanian writer puts personal library up for sale 

The Jordanian writer Ghattas Sweis has announced that his personal library, which includes 3,000 literary and cultural books and magazines, is up for sale in order to secure his livelihood, reported the Jordanian Ammon News website.

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In a post on Facebook, the writer said that he was offering his entire library for sale, and published his phone number and ways to communicate with him.

Sweis’s decision to sell his books came due to financial distress he was going through. He responded to one friend who expressed surprise by saying: "I sell it to secure my retirement needs."

A number of writers and intellectuals expressed their shock about the situation of their colleague, wondering about the negligence of the Ministry of Culture towards the country’s thinkers and writers, according to the news website.

*Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye