UAE stops using former British officers as military trainers
About 185 Bahrainis have applied for UK asylum since widespread pro-democracy protests led by the majority Shia broke out in February 2011. Home Office data show that 102 applications have since been granted and 18 are pending.
The UK has nonetheless strengthened its military presence in Bahrain with the construction of new naval premises in the capital, Manama.
A continuing UK review of Gulf strategy is set to come up with conclusions on a broad set of policies, including military deployments.
“We need a sustained and enduring commitment,” said one western official. “Security is the prism through which the Gulf states view things.”
US and British officials are touring the region to persuade Gulf officials that the west will help counter any Iranian “interference” in countries such as Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and Iraq.
The UAE balances military ties between its allies, which include the US and France, both of which retain significant bases in the Gulf state. Abu Dhabi has also been asking the UK to boost its armed presence.
Dubai’s al-Minhad air base was central to logistics support for the war in Afghanistan. The UK has also based an expeditionary wing at the airport, where up to eight ageing Tornado fighter jets are deployed.
The official says the “persistent” British military presence at al-Minhad could evolve into a permanent base that could be quickly scaled up in a crisis in the Middle East or Asia to house a battle group of around 1,000 servicemen.
But other London-based officials say any decision on scaling up the UK’s Gulf military presence is likely to be pushed back until the British general election next year.
Bahraini asylum seeker wins UK stay
A last-minute judicial intervention in the UK has temporarily prevented the deportation of a Bahraini asylum-seeker as violence in the strife-torn Gulf monarchy continues, writes Simeon Kerr.
Isa al-Awali, who has been sentenced in absentia to five years in a Bahrain prison for taking part in an illegal gathering, had been scheduled to fly to Manama on Thursday morning after the government in London rejected his asylum claim.
Activists and lawyers said a judge on Wednesday rejected calls for a review, but an out-of-hours judge later accepted a second application and granted a temporary stay.
Mr Awali, who says he was beaten when arrested in Bahrain last year, has a week to provide new evidence to back up his claim that a return to his homeland would put him at risk of torture. He has been held at an immigration detention centre since he arrived in the UK.
The Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases.
The courtroom developments came on the same day as activists said a 14-year-old protester, Sayed Mohsin, was killed by police firing birdshot pellets to disburse unrest in the town of Sitra.
Bahraini police said they had launched an investigation into the death, which they said occurred when rioters attacked the security forces, who “restored order”.
Bahrain remains racked by political unrest as the majority Shia lead protests against the minority Sunni-led government.
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