The head of the British Armed Forces has visited Bahrain, one day after the Bahraini regime stripped leading Shia cleric Sheikh Issa Qassem of his citizenship.
The visit of General Sir Nicholas Houghton, Chief of Britain’s Defense Staff (CDS), has been denounced as London’s consent to Manama’s recently-intensified crackdown on the pro-democracy drive across the Persian Gulf island.
Bahrain News Agency reported that commander in chief of the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) Field Marshal Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa received Houghton and his accompanying delegation.
“The commander-in-chief expressed thanks and appreciation to the British army official for the efforts he had exerted throughout his tenure, and wished him every success in the tasks that would be assigned to him,” BNA reported, adding that they discussed regional and international issues of common concern.
UK-based activism group, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), condemned the visit, saying, “Bahrain’s ally, the UK, did not even postpone a meeting on military cooperation, let alone issue a statement on this gross repression of Bahrain’s civil society,” referring to the intensified Bahraini crackdown on dissent.
The BIRD was referring to the declared purpose of the visit, namely follow-up coordination between the two countries in the wake of a bilateral agreement to establish a new British naval base in Bahrain.
“Britain is giving Bahrain a green light for repression,” the group said.