US accused of causing panic in Bahrain
Manama, August 5, 2013
The US has been accused of exaggerating security threats after Bahrain was included in a global travel alert.
It appeared alongside countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in a warning about "continued potential for terrorist attacks" in an advisory issued by US State Department, according to a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The US Embassy in Bahrain was among more than 20 diplomatic missions that closed yesterday as a precaution.
But Ahmed Al Sa'ati, a senior member of the National Institution for Human Rights, said such notices were creating unnecessary tension and tarnishing Bahrain's image.
"These are all false alarms," he said. "I am surprised by the decision by our close ally, who is clearly much aware of the situation in the Middle East."
The State Department issued a global travel alert on Friday in response to "credible intelligence" suggesting that Al Qaeda and affiliated organisations were planning terrorist attacks before August 31.
A notice the following day suggested Al Qaeda and affiliated organisations were continuing to plan terrorist attacks in the Middle East and beyond.
But Al Sa'ati said the terrorist group had no presence in Bahrain.
"Yes there have been well-known people who were seen carrying the Al Qaeda flag in the past as they were opposing American Foreign Policy...but they are not linked with the group," he said.
The Bahrain bloc president said repeated advisories by the US authorities should only be issued when they are required and not on a weekly basis.
"No American citizen was attacked or injured directly or indirectly because of the situation in Bahrain. Their properties were not damaged," he told the GDN.
"There is no reason for American authorities to issue such advisories and travel alerts as it affects Bahrain's image."
His comments were backed up by Al Fateh Youth Coalition (FYC) spokesman Yacoub Al Slaise, whose group is a breakaway of the National Unity Assembly (NUA) and aims to influence Bahrain's policies through peaceful means.
"The US authorities have full right to beef up their security at its missions abroad if it has information of any potential threat," he said.
"But I do not believe that the US Embassy in Bahrain faces threat from Al Qaeda or any other terror groups. There is no hostility towards Americans in Bahrain."
Al Sa'ati said authorities were often forced to deal with the "negative publicity" and assure the international community that everything was fine in Bahrain.
"Bahrain is now put in the basket of crisis countries like Afghanistan or even Syria for that matter," he said.
"We welcome the American mission in Bahrain and respect its presence here. Ambassador Thomas Krajeski is criticised in the media for interfering in local affairs, but look at this way, he is allowed openly to go out and do his job."
The legislator reiterated that Bahrain was largely peaceful despite the sporadic violence that often escalates during the weekend.
"These false alarms of warning US citizens of potential dangers in Bahrain without clearly understanding the reality on the ground should be stopped," he said.
US Embassy officials confirmed it will open as normal today.
The US Fifth Fleet operations have not been affected by the global alert and said it was "business as usual".
"The travel advisories are not impacting operations in the fleet area of responsibility," said Fifth Fleet spokeswoman lieutenant Marissa Myatt.
"While we maintain an array of force protection options here in Bahrain and around the region, we do not discuss specific force protection measures or readiness levels."
On Saturday, Interpol requested its 190 member countries, including Bahrain, to follow-up and process information related to the prison escape of suspected Al Qaeda members last month from Iraq, Libya and Pakistan.
This week marks the 15th anniversary of the US Embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in which more than 200 mostly African citizens were killed and 4,000 others injured. – TradeArabia News Service