1930 GMT: A march on Monday night rejecting union with Saudi Arabia:
1540 GMT: In another sign of the authorities' intent to crack down on expression in social media, Parliament has been considering legislation "to curb misuse of electronic means of communication as well as punish perpetrators using the platform to incite violence in the Kingdom".
The MPs are considering the formation of a committee with jurisdiction over offences allegedly committed via electronic and social media.
1350 GMT: Maryam Alkhawaja updates on her sister and fellow activist Zainab, detained since 21 April:
Say hello to Ali Abbas Shamtoot, 34, former security guard at the Ministry of Education and owner of a mini-bus service who today finds himself a newly elected member of the Bahrain parliament, representing Constituency Four, Capital Governorate.
Shamtoot's photo was plastered throughout the media as a leader in the demonstrations that rocked Bahrain in February and March. The government's crackdown to those demonstrations triggered the leading opposition group in parliament to resign its 18 seats. That prompted the just held by-elections to fill those seats, and seven months and 10 days after he was a leading face in the street protests Shamtoot was elected to parliament.
What a difference seven months makes. An EA correspondent reports:
today during the parliament session MP AlShamtoot raised a sign, "Freedom to human rights activists Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Alkhwaja". He was ordered to removed by the head of the Parliament, MP AlThahrani.
After he refused, AlShamtoot had to be taken from the Parliamentary session.
AlShamtoot with his sign:
1330 GMT: While other media outlets ran with the simplistic pretext of "Iran" to explain the sudden Saudi rejection of "union" with Bahrain, the Wall Street Journal and analysts get to the heart of the matter:
In London, Jane Kinninmont, a senior research fellow for the Middle East and North Africa at Chatham House, said a Bahrain-Saudi merger would "have been a bad test case for wider Gulf union because the relationship would inevitably be extremely unequal, given Bahrain's small size and overwhelming economic dependence on Saudi." Bahrain receives the majority of its revenue from shared oil proceeds from Saudi Arabia.
Additionally, "other GCC states have always been wary that Saudi Arabia would seek to dominate any such union, and using Bahrain as a pilot would only have reinforced those fears," she said....
Saudi officials and their GCC counterparts reportedly had negotiated intensely in the final hours before Monday's summit to try to achieve consensus, said Michael Stephens, an analyst at the Royal United Services Institute think tank in Qatar.
"But they ran out of time, and they hadn't thought it out clearly enough," Mr. Stephens said.
After Monday's summit, the union proposal is "not dead and it could be revived," Mr. Stephens said, adding, "But the likelihood of it actually working [to approval by the GCC] is very low."
0700 GMT: Monday's surprising development was the Saudi rejection, after days of heated speculation about "union" with Bahrain, of the idea.
Observers expected Monday's meeting of the Gulf Co-operation Council, chaired by Saudi King Abdullah to herald the closer ties on political, economic, and social matters, perhaps even preparing for a merger. Instead, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal made clear that there would be no immediate steps.
The Foreign Minister put out the face-saving implication that the caution was due to Tehran, warning, "Iran should keep out of the Kingdom's relations with Bahrain, even if the two states decide to form a union." His manoeuvre was aided by the Iranians, with MPs and the media putting out loud noise that the Islamic Republic would not tolerate a new Saudi-Bahraini nation. Some in the media, such as The Guardian, duly swallowed the line and ran with it: "Gulf Unity Plan on Hold Amid Iranian Warning".
Even a moment's reflection, however, cuts through that excuse. Saudi Arabia has not exactly cowered before Iran's warnings --- especially when they are for show --- in the past? So why should Riyadh's monarchy back down this time, if they really desired the closer relationship with Bahrain?
The answer, of course, is that there are other, more important political actors in play here. Note Saud al-Faisal's remark, "The issue will take time....The aim is for all countries to join, not just two or three."
That points to the possibility that it was other members of the GCC --- Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, and Oman --- who had issues over any plans that were primarily about the Saudi and Bahraini regimes.
And just to put in another thought: would the US, given heated criticism of its stance on repression in Bahrain, really be thrilled about an overt sign that the Saudis --- whose military are already backing the Bahraini monarchy --- were taking formal charge?