Gulf Arab leaders meeting on Monday are expected to announce a political union between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, a government minister in the gulf statelet said.
Leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which also includes Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, are to meet in Riyadh as they grow increasingly concerned over Iran and the pro-democracy uprisings across the region.
Local newspapers have reported that Saudi Arabia is seeking closer union with Bahrain, where pro-democracy campaigners have carried out a year-long rebellion against the US-backed ruling monarchy.
"I expect there will be an announcement of two or three countries. We can't be sure but I have a strong expectation," Samira Rajab, Bahrain's minister of state for information affairs, said on Sunday.
"Sovereignty will remain with each of the countries and they would remain as UN members but they would unite in decisions regarding foreign relations, security, military and economy."
The Bahraini opposition condemned the planned announcement, saying it would be wrong to make any deal without a referendum.
"It is not the right of the (ruling) Al-Khalifa family to decide whether Bahrain will join Saudi Arabia in any type of unity without a decision from the Bahrainis," Mattar Ebrahim, a leading figure in the opposition Al-Wefaq party said.
Saudi forces marched into Bahrain to suppress the uprising last year, with at least 40 protesters killed in the attacks.
Ebrahim admitted concern that any unity deal would mean a further crackdown on protesters.
Rajab said that there were reservations among some GCC members over the idea of a closer union, and that it was too early to say if any agreement taken among Gulf leaders would require a referendum in Bahrain or not.
US resumes Bahrain arms sales despite rights concerns
MANAMA: The United States will resume some military sales to Bahrain, a key Gulf ally facing Iran, despite human rights concerns linked to months of popular protests against the island kingdom’s rulers, the State Department said.
The Obama administration notified Congress that certain sales would be allowed for Bahrain’s defense force, coast guard and national guard, although it would maintain a hold on TOW missiles, Humvees and some other items for now, the department said in a statement.
“We have made the decision to release additional items to Bahrain mindful of the fact that there are a number of serious unresolved human rights issues that the government of Bahrain needs to address,” the statement said.
The State Department did not give a total value for the items being released but emphasized that the equipment being approved was “not used for crowd control” as the majority Shi’ite community continues to protest against the Sunni royal family following a crackdown last year.
US officials said among the sales now allowed to go forward would be harbor security vessels and upgrades to turbo-fan engines used in F-16 fighter aircraft as well as legislation which could pave the way for a future sale of a naval frigate. Items still on hold, besides the missiles and the Humvees, include teargas, teargas launchers and stun grenades.
The decision was criticized by Senator Patrick Leahy, who wrote a provision Congress passed last year requiring the administration to consult lawmakers before allowing sales of teargas and other crowd-control items to governments of countries undergoing democratic transition in the Middle East.
“While I am pleased that the administration is continuing to withhold tear gas, small arms and other crowd-control items from the Bahraini security forces, this arms sale sends the wrong message,” Leahy, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Fuck the metropolitan police
formula one lost its innocence that day