Bahrain lawmakers object to US envoy’s sway

Parliament endorses motion seeking end to ‘interference in domestic affairs’

Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain’s parliament has endorsed a motion to request the government to put an end to “the interference of the US ambassador in the country’s domestic affairs”.

The motion, filed by six lawmakers, also called for the government to step in to end the ambassador’s “frequent meetings with provocateurs”.

Ambassador Thomas C. Krajeski was sworn in as the ambassador to Bahrain on October 26, 2011.

However, he was accused — mainly by Islamists — of being involved in suspicious activities in Iraq where he served in 2003 as a political adviser on the staff of ambassador L. Paul Bremer at the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad and as the senior adviser to the ambassador on Northern Iraq Affairs in 2008 and 2009.

Islamists claimed that Krajeski had a crucial role in the crisis in Iraq and said that his appointment in Bahrain would cause serious problems. Al Asala, which upholds the ideology of Salafism, had earlier launched a campaign against him and pressed for the appointment of a new diplomat. The campaign eventually faded, but some lawmakers said that Krajeski’s contacts in Bahrain were of a suspicious nature and filed a motion to “end his interference”.

At the parliamentary session on Thursday, some lawmakers initially sought to defuse the tension, focusing their arguments on diplomats in general.

“We are a peaceful country and we are aware of our size,” MP Hassan Al Dossari said. “We expect to be respected as much we respect others. Diplomats should comply with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and should not belittle others or support one side against another,” he said.

Latifa Al Gaood, the first woman to be elected to a parliament in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said that the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations regulated actions by diplomats to promote bilateral relations and ways to expand cooperation and to build on achievements. “We reject interference in domestic affairs and we Bahrainis can overcome differences among ourselves without any mediation from any country,” she said.

“Our policies are competent enough to help us forward. We hope for activities within Bahrain to boost bilateral relations and investments,” Latifa said.

Lawmaker Khamis Al Rumaihi said that Bahrainis appreciated the US role in the world but urged its diplomats to maintain a more discreet presence. “We have had special relations for more than 60 years. We have numerous agreements and we are aware of US vital interests in the Arabian Gulf. The US ambassador should always remember the US interests in the region. The people of Bahrain were upset with the US position at the time of the unrest. Things have changed, but we would like to remind all ambassadors about the need to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.”

However, the soft approach was blasted by MP Abdullah Huwail who charged that the ambassador had made “negative statements even before coming to Bahrain”.

“Bahrain has good ties with all and respects all conventions. Article 30 of the constitution stipulates that peace is the objective of the state. Bahrainis do want to have peace. However, this US ambassador has interfered in Bahrain’s domestic affairs and often met the opposition,” Huwail said.

“The US diplomat must respect conventions as well as the feelings of the people of Bahrain. We the representatives of the people have opposed him because he failed to respect us as a people. Even when we asked the Foreign Ministry months ago to inform him about his behaviour, we were told that the statement would affect bilateral relations. We require the Foreign Ministry now to convey the message that the people of Bahrain refuse diplomats’ interference in domestic affairs.”

Some people had called for a rally in front of the embassy as a sign of protest but the Interior Ministry prevented any such gathering.

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