Friday's opposition march in Karzakan, calling for the release of political prisoners such as human rights activist Nabeel Rajab
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1725 GMT: Mohamed Al Jishi, the lawyer for detained human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, reports on the status of his client after an unexpected court hearing today:
@Hammonda1 He is detained under defamation accusations and the case in court is illegal gathering.— Mohamed Al Jishi (@Mohamed_AlJishi) May 11, 2012
Prosecutors originally announced that Rajab, arrested last Saturday, was being held for incitement of violence via Twitter as well as participation in illegal marches.
Rajab's lawyer was not informed of the sudden hearing.
Rajab was arrested last Saturday at Bahrain International Airport. Prosecutors claim he has incited riots and violence against policemen through messages on Twitter.
Multiple sources familiar with the details [said] they include six more harbor patrol boats, communications equipment for Bahrain's air defense system, ground-based radars, AMRAAM air-to-air missile systems, Seahawk helicopters, Avenger air-defense systems, parts for F-16 fighter engines, refurbishment items for Cobra helicopters, and night-vision equipment.
The United States also agreed to work on legislation to allow the transfer of a U.S. frigate, will allow the Bahrainis to look at (but not yet purchase) armored personnel carriers, and will ask Congress for $10 million in foreign military financing for Bahrain in fiscal 2013.
Even more interesting, however, are the parallels to our analysis of the politics around the deal:
"The administration didn't want the crown prince to go home empty-handed because they wanted to empower him," said Tom Malinowski, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch, who was arrested in Bahrain while documenting protests there last month. "They placed a lot of hope in him, but he can't deliver unless the king lets him and right now the hard-liners in the ruling family seem to have the upper hand."
The crown prince has been stripped of many of his official duties recently, but is still seen as the ruling family member who is most amenable to working constructively with the opposition and with the United States. It's unclear whether sending him home with arms sales will have any effect on internal Bahraini ruling family politics, however.
"That's the gamble the administration is taking, that it helps him show he can deliver something," Malinowski said. "But there's no guarantee the government will do what we all hope it does. They might just as easily conclude ‘We don't have to empower the crown prince at home; we just have to send him to America.'"...
"Many in the administration want to empower the crown prince as the reformer in the royal family against the hard-liners, and didn't want to send him home empty handed after his visit," said Cole Bockenfeld, director of advocacy at the Project on Middle East Democracy. "But no matter how you look at it here in Washington, on the street in Bahrain this will be perceived as the U.S. supporting a regime that is still doing horrible things."
0605 GMT: We open this morning with an analysis of Friday's news that Washington will release much of the $53 million in arms held up because of purported concerns over reform and human rights, "'Washington's Knight' --- The Crown Prince Gets US Weapons".
And we note Friday's headline development in the Kingdom, as thousands marched for freedom for political prisoners. Opposition societies declared after the rally:
The people of Bahrain have overcome the regime’s repression and will not give up their right to freedom.
The same state-run media, that was accused of spreading hatred during the so-called ‘National Safety Law’, is once again playing the same shameful role in an attempt to ‘divide and conquer’ the people of Bahrain. But the people have proven to the international community their unwavering call for democracy and remain determined to continue their path towards a dignified future.
The latest tightening of security measures continues to worsen the situation in Bahrain, with the regime maintaining its systematic repression against peaceful protesters. This policy of the regime reveals their true intention of arbitrary arrests, torture and targeting those expressing their right to freedom of expression....
Then, in a statement which might be read in the context of the news out of Washington, the societies asserted, "The international community must come out of its silence and take a serious stand to stop the regime’s violence against the people of Bahrain."