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By John McAfee
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Hamad Ibn Isa Al Khalifah
Britain has come under criticism for inviting the king of Bahrain, whose Gulf state has engaged in a brutal crackdown on political dissent, to a lunch Friday celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.
Protesters hurled firebombs and riot police fired tear gas Friday, hours after Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone declared the Gulf nation safe to host a Grand Prix race next week.
A Senate Intelligence Committee member says a recent report on Bahrain's human rights abuses against protesters validates his opposition to a proposed $53 million arms sale to the island kingdom.
The head of a probe into Bahrain's recent unrest said he found "no evidence" that Iran gave material support to the kingdom's Shiite opposition during its 10-month uprising against the Sunni-dominated government.
Bahrain on Sunday released more than 100 prisoners, including two former opposition members of parliament, arrested during the Sunni government's crackdown on the predominantly Shiite protests inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.
The Syrian foreign minister this week warned the U.S. and French ambassadors that they will face severe travel restrictions if they leave Damascus again without government permission.
The Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain has had secret contacts with Israel's Mossad intelligence service, according to a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable.
Senior members of Bahrain's largest opposition party told The Washington Times on Thursday that they were cautiously optimistic about upcoming talks with the government after it took several confidence-building measures.
Bahrain's king ordered the release of some political prisoners Tuesday, conceding to another opposition demand as the embattled monarchy tries to engage protesters in talks aimed at ending an uprising that has entered its second week.
Thousands of singing and dancing protesters streamed back into Manama's central Pearl Square on Saturday after Bahrain's leaders withdrew tanks and riot police following two straight days of a bloody crackdown by security forces in the tiny monarchy.
Soldiers opened fire Friday on thousands of protesters defying a government ban and streaming toward the landmark square that had been the symbolic center of the uprising to break the political grip of the Gulf nation's leaders.
Troops and tanks locked down the capital of this tiny Gulf kingdom after riot police swinging clubs and firing tear gas smashed into demonstrators, many of them sleeping, in a pre-dawn assault Thursday that uprooted their protest camp demanding political change. Medical officials said four people were killed.
Thousands of protesters poured into a main square in Bahrain's capital Tuesday in an Egypt-style rebellion that sharply escalated pressure on authorities as the Arab push for change gripped the Gulf for the first time.
The former U.S. ambassador to Bahrain called King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa a pro-American, reform-minded monarch in a secret diplomatic cable 14 months ago, but now the ruler of the key Persian Gulf kingdom is facing massive street demonstrations and demands for an end to his dynasty.
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has pledged reforms but faces resistance from his Sunni supporters, who fear that greater enfranchisement of Shiite parties might jeopardize Bahrain's relative secularism.
Last month, however, King Hamad urged companies and universities to take steps toward bringing back workers and students pushed out for alleged links to the protests.