Bahrain Asks Top U.S. Diplomat to Leave, Citing InterferenceZaid Sabah and Nicole Gaouette
Bahrain asked a senior U.S. diplomat to leave the country immediately because he “intervened flagrantly” in its internal affairs, the official Bahrain News Agency said.
Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, has been declared persona non grata after he “held meetings with a particular party to the detriment of other interlocutors,” the BNA said late yesterday, citing the Foreign Ministry. It said Bahrain wants to preserve its “solid and firm” ties with the U.S.
Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement that the U.S. is “deeply concerned” by the departure demand and that Malinowski’s visit had been coordinated with the government. Earlier, she told reporters in Washington that Malinowski, who previously was Washington director for the advocacy group Human Rights Watch, met yesterday with the Bahraini Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq, and remains in the country.
Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, cracked down on pro-democracy protests by the country’s Shiite majority in 2011, leaving 35 people dead according to an inquiry commissioned by the Sunni-led government. Since then, it has regularly suppressed smaller demonstrations and arrested activists, drawing condemnation from human rights groups.
The government has accused Iran of instigating unrest among its Shiite co-religionists in Bahrain, and blames protesters for resorting to violence.