The Middle East Channel

Bahrain revokes citizenship of 31 opposition activists

Bahrain revokes citizenship of 31 opposition activists

Bahrain has revoked the citizenship of 31 opposition activists for "undermining state security." The interior ministry cited Article 10 of the Citizenship Law saying it permits the "re-evaluation of nationality." Of the 31 activists named, two were former members of parliament representing the Shiite al-Wefaq party — Jawad and Jalal Fairuz. Others were London based activists Said al-Shehabi, head of the Freemen of Bahrain movement, and Ali Mushaima, son of Hassan Musaima, the imprisoned leader of the opposition al-Haq group who is serving a life sentence for allegedly plotting against the Al-Khalifah regime. The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights and Bahrain Center for Human Rights said they had "grave concern over the systematic targeting of prominent political activists, former members of parliament, clerics and others." They continued claiming the government did not provide sufficient evidence for revoking the citizenships of these individuals. The move comes after Bahrain’s government banned public gatherings and rallies last week drawing criticism from human rights groups and the United Nations. There has been widespread unrest in Bahrain since pro-democracy protesters took to the streets of the capital of Manama in February 2011. At least 60 people have been killed and thousands wounded and detained.


The Syrian opposition struck government strongholds in Damascus with four mortar attacks showing a growing boldness and an increased sectarian nature of the conflict. The Houran Freemen Brigade of the Syrian opposition claimed responsibility for attacks on the predominantly Alawite Damascus neighborhood of Mezze, hitting a military airfield and an intelligence headquarters. Fighters fired upon the palace that houses President Bashar al-Assad’s offices, but missed. Bombings also hit the districts of Hai al-Wuroud, al-Qadam, and Ibn al-Nafis. Syrian state television reported that Judge Abad Nadwa was killed by a car bomb on Wednesday. Additionally in Damascus, clashes have continued between opposition fighters and pro-government Palestinian forces in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk and in the southern neighborhood of Hajar al-Aswad. Meanwhile, opposition representatives have continued negotiations in Qatar where they are set to elect a new leader and executive committee on Wednesday. British Prime Minister David Cameron called for the removal of Assad saying he should face international law and justice, but suggested he be allowed safe passage if he agrees to step down. Cameron is in the midst of a regional tour, visiting the Zatari Syrian refugee camp in Jordan as well as the Gulf countries of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.


  • Turkey’s government said it will propose legislation to allow the Kurdish language to be used in courts in efforts to bring an end to an eight week hunger strike by an estimated 700 Kurdish prisoners.
  • For the first time, women will join Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council advising King Abdullah, but will be separated from men with a screen. 

Arguments and Analysis

The Kurds’ Evolving Strategy: The Struggle Goes Political in Turkey (Aliza Marcus, World Affairs Journal)

"The new face of the Kurdish rebel fight in Turkey could easily be Zeynep, a thirty-year-old university graduate with a full-time management job in Diyarbakir, the unofficial capital of the Kurdish southeast. Born in Bingol Province, in the mountains where rebels of the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party) regularly battle Turkish soldiers, she moved to western Turkey for university. There, she joined a Kurdish student youth group. Someone from the PKK came and told the students that they weren’t needed in the mountains to fight. "We were told, ‘Stay where you are, because you are more useful in the legal and civil areas. The mountains are full."

This made a lot of sense to Zeynep (not her real name). The rebel war had just been suspended by imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who was captured in 1999 after being force to flee his haven in Syria, so there wasn’t much need for more fighters. And anyway, it wouldn’t have occurred to her to question the PKK, which had launched its armed struggle in 1984 when she was two years old and was part of the mythology of her youth: "For me, history started with the PKK. If it wasn’t for people going to the mountains to fight, we wouldn’t have anything. But things changed and it was clear at a certain point that some new mechanisms were needed."

Abroad, Obama’s Victory Brings Demands for Attention (Alan Cowell, The New York Times)

"World leaders sought comfort from the familiar on Wednesday after President Obama‘s re-election but, with the global political landscape substantially unchanged and crises on hold while the vote unfolded, many vied with new vigor for his attention and favor as he embarks on a second term.

In marked contrast to a euphoric surge four years ago when many hailed Mr. Obama’s victory as a herald of renewal, the mood was subdued, reflecting not only the shadings of opinion between the American leader’s friends and foes but also a generally lowered expectation of America’s power overseas."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey