The Potential for US Involvement in the Bahrain Human Rights Crisis

By Ena Cefo

A February 11th hill briefing on “How to Bring Stability to Bahrain” featured Rep. Jim McGovern, Bahraini human rights lawyer Mohammed al Tajer and Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. Bahrain has been criticized for oppressing and jailing human rights activists and passing repressive laws that increase the sentences for anyone “criticizing” the King and allow denationalization of anyone who “causes harm” to the interests of the Kingdom or “acts in a way that contravenes his duty of loyalty to it.” In its blueprint for US involvement in addressing Bahrain’s human rights violations, HRF highlighted the dangers of failing to act in Bahrain: exploitation of sectarian tension by ISIS and other extremists, corruption and continued instability, widespread protests, falling public support for the United States, the threat to the U.S. Fifth Naval Fleet in Bahrain, and de facto U.S. support for an authoritarian government. In order to address the situation, HRF recommended that the United States play a key role in fighting against corruption in Bahrain, reforming the Bahraini security force and ending the punishment of civil society leaders.