- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 10, 2011

BAHRAIN PROTESTS HIJACKED

The ambassador from Bahrain denounced radical zealots who turned domestic protests into violent confrontations between the Shiite Muslim majority and a Sunni Muslim dynasty that has ruled the tiny Gulf kingdom for two centuries.

Ambassador Houda Nonoo told the Women Ambassadors’ Foundation that the unprecedented demonstrations were started in February by a “small group of young people who were trying to emulate” uprisings that toppled autocratic rulers in Tunisia and Egypt.

“This demonstration was soon taken over by people with a different agenda,” Mrs. Nonoo said. “Sadly, this group does not represent the majority of the country or anything close to it.”

The ambassador declined to identify the provocateurs, but the government has accused the Shiite theocratic government of Iran and al Qaeda terrorists of infiltrating the protests to force confrontations with Bahrain authorities.



However, the government quickly cracked down on the protesters after massive demonstrations in the capital, Manama. Saudi Arabia, another Sunni-ruled nation, sent troops to last month to reinforce Bahraini security forces.

Mrs. Nonoo claimed her country “is slowly returning to normal.”

“Financial centers have reopened, including banks and the stock market. Shoppers are at the malls. Bahrain is definitely on the mend,” she said.

Bahrain is undergoing an evolution, rather than a revolution.”

Mrs. Nonoo also insisted that Bahrain remains a religiously tolerant nation and noted that she is an example of that practice.

She is one of the few female ambassadors from a Muslim nation and the only Jewish envoy from an Arab country.

ENVOY DEFIES ENEMIES

Pakistan’s prime minister ignored sniping from the diplomatic shadows and reappointed his ambassador to the United States over the weekend.

Yousuf Raza Gilani extended Ambassador Husain Haqqani’s post by two years, according to press reports from Islamabad Sunday.

Mr. Haqqani, widely respected among foreign-policy experts in Washington, was appointed in 2008, but several Pakistani journalists predicted he would be recalled at the end of his term in May. They interviewed unnamed Pakistani officials who accused Mr. Haqqani of sloppy management of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington.

One source claimed he issued more than 400 visas in one day for “hundreds of CIA-linked people and defense contractors … in the garb of diplomats,” the Nation newspaper reported last week.

Mr. Haqqani has managed U.S.-Pakistani relations through tense periods, including accusations of civilian deaths from U.S. missiles fired from unmanned, drone aircraft over terrorist strongholds in parts of Pakistan.

“I serve as long as I enjoy the confidence of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani,” he told the Dawn newspaper.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Monday

• Siim Kallas, vice president of the European Commission for transportation, who attends the EU Forum on Transatlantic Aviation Competitiveness.

Tuesday

Anwar Ibrahim, former deputy prime minister of Malaysia and current opposition leader in parliament; Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim of Qatar; and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh of Jordan. They address the Eighth Annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum.

Friday

Alexei Kudrin, Russia’s deputy prime minister and minister of finance; Alexei Ulyukaev, first deputy chairman of the Central Bank of Russia; and Stanislav Voskresensky, deputy minister of economic development. They address a forum on U.S.-Russian relations and the Russian economy at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail [email protected]

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