After Trump gives green light, Bahrain launches deadly crackdown on political opponents

The Washington Post reports: A raid by forces in Bahrain against a pro-opposition stronghold has left at least five people dead and hundreds detained in one of the deadliest crackdowns since protests erupted in 2011 against the Persian Gulf nation’s Western-backed monarchy.

Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said it had carried out the raid on Tuesday in the village of Duraz and officers had come under attack, including from assailants wielding explosives, the state news agency said.

Opposition activists said that the police had targeted a peaceful sit-in outside the home of Bahrain’s leading Shiite cleric and that the dead included an environmental activist.

Protests and clashes have flared for years in the tiny but strategic island nation between the Sunni-led monarchy and Bahrain’s large Shiite population, which claims it suffers discrimination and other abuses. Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

In addition to the death toll in Tuesday’s raid, the timing was striking, coming two days after President Trump publicly assured the king of Bahrain that their relationship would be free of the kind of “strain” that had occurred in the past — an apparent reference to periodic chiding of Bahrain by the Obama administration for human rights violations.

“Our countries have a wonderful relationship together, but there has been a little strain, but there won’t be strain with this administration,” Trump said during a photo session with the king, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, at a conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to the Reuters news agency. [Continue reading…]

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