US mediation offer between Bahrain authorities, Al Wefaq turned down

Bahrain’s foreign minister has turned down an offer from a US diplomat to mediate between Al Wefaq and the government

Manama: Bahrain’s foreign minister has turned down an offer from a US diplomat to mediate between Al Wefaq, the largest opposition society, and the government.

“I have rejected the idea that a US diplomat mediate between the government of Bahrain and Al Wefaq Movement because communication channels are open to all parties,” Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa said on Sunday in an interview with Al Arabiya.

Shaikh Khalid did not name the diplomat or specify when the offer was made. Several US diplomats have visited Bahrain since the country was hit by dramatic events in February, mainly Jeffery Feltman, the US Assistant Secretary of State in charge of Near Eastern affairs.

Al Wefaq and the other opposition societies in February turned down an offer by Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa to engage in a nationwide dialogue with no limits on the issues on the table.

The opposition societies reportedly believed that they were in a strong position and wanted to impose pre-conditions before sitting around the table.

Prince Salman’s offer remained valid until Bahrain imposed the national safety act, emergency laws to deal with the unrest gripping Manama. Politicians later said that the societies had “missed a golden opportunity.”

The National Unity Rally, a movement that emerged during the crisis, warned against confining talks with the government or Prince Salman to Al Wefaq and insisted on taking part, alongside other parties, in them.

A national dialogue to help heal deep social and political wounds in July was also dismissed by Al Wefaq after it said that it needed a greater representation at the talks and a greater say in the issues.

The society whose 18 members resigned from the 40-seat lower chamber in February to protest against the way the authorities handled protestors boycotted the by-elections in September and lost the leadership they gained in 2006 and reinforced in 2010.

On Sunday, it said that it would not join the National Commission, set up by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa to follow up the implementation of the recommendations included in a high-profile report published by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) following a four-month investigation into the events of Bahrain.