» News

Queen Accused of Horse Trading with Bahrain on Human Rights

2017-10-20 - 4:30 am

Bahrain Mirror: The gift by Queen Elizabeth II of a three-year-old stallion to the King of Bahrain has prompted outrage among rights campaigners who say it is the latest example of the UK's support for the increasingly authoritarian Gulf state.

The British monarch's gift horse comes as the UK is facing criticism for "lending cover" to Bahrain as it pursues a "disastrous" year-long crackdown on human rights, said Jamie Merrill in an article published on the Middle East Eye website.

Merrill notes that according to Amnesty International, the UK government has done little or nothing to investigate reprisal attacks against people in Bahrain following protests mounted by exiled nationals in London.

King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa received the horse, which was bred at the Queen's stud farm in Sandringham, on Sunday and "expressed thanks and appreciation" to the British monarch, Bahrain's state media agency reported earlier this week. He went on to praise the "deep-rooted historic relations" between Bahrain and the UK.

The MEE article further highlights that the gift of the horse, a diplomatic signal of close ties between London and Manama, comes less than a month after Amnesty said the country had retreated from promised reforms and "dramatically" escalated a clampdown on political dissent over the past year.

The English-educated king and the British queen have reportedly developed a close friendship that spans several decades, the article states, pointing out that the Queen has a purely constitutional role, while King Hamad has power over Bahrain's executive, legislative and judicial authorities in Bahrain, according to democracy watchdog Freedom House.

Despite rights concerns, it adds, Hamad has repeatedly joined the Queen at the Royal Box at Ascot and at the prestigious Windsor Horse Show, even in the wake of public criticism, including widespread outrage over Bahrain's treatment of protesters during the 2011 Arab Spring.

Jamie Merrill further notes that the Queen has been criticised over her decision to invite King Hamad to her 90th birthday celebrations last year, with human rights groups raising concerns over Bahrain's treatment of pro-democracy protesters.

Rights groups have repeatedly called on the British royal family to distance itself from Bahrain's ruling family, but analysts say the relationship is seen as a key tool to further defence and investment deals.  

"The royal family is a key part of Britain's infrastructure of support for the Gulf regimes...these personal relations provide an alternative to the usual diplomacy and help smooth the way for British investment and trade including for arms exports," Mark Curtis, author and foreign policy analyst, told MEE.

"This gift from the Queen appears to be an especially brazen example of London's ongoing support for Bahrain's repression: it will surely be interpreted as such in Manama," Curtis added.


Arabic Version


comments powered by Disqus