Tuesday, May 31, 2011

UK trained Bahrainis during crackdown

The British military trained five Bahraini officers, including the son of the Crown Prince, at Sandhurst during the crackdown of pro-democracy protests.

Source: Press TV

Bahrain's army officers have continued receiving training in the UK even months after the ruling regime began a brutal crackdown against peaceful anti-government protesters.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request has led to the disclosure that the British military continued training five Bahraini officers at Sandhurst, the elite military academy in Surrey, as recently as last month, prominent daily The Independent reported.

Bahraini people staged a major uprising in February against the country's royal family, which has been ruling the tiny Persian Gulf island since it gained independence from Britain.

The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) has also been criticized for dispatching its army personnel to Saudi Arabia to train the Kingdom's National Guard.

The Saudi National Guard has been deployed in neighboring Bahrain to help crush the popular uprising in the tiny Persian Gulf island.

The most recent Bahraini military trainees at Sandhurst, who have since returned home, included Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman Al Khalifa, son of Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

Sandhurst has a long tradition of training military officers from Bahrain. The King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa is a Sandhurst graduate as well. He also remains a patron of the Sandhurst Foundation, a charity for trainees, to which he has donated £70,000. According to official figures, 61 Bahrainis have been trained at the academy since 1995.

The former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said it was "surprising" that the links had been kept up despite the violence in Bahrain.

"At the very least these arrangements should have been suspended pending the outcome of the political changes," he said.

"It is astonishing we invade Libya claiming we're defending protesters, while at the same time training the forces who are murdering protesters in Bahrain", said Nishma Doshi, the campaigner who submitted the FoI request.

Separate FoI requests disclosed that up to 20 British teams are dispatched to Saudi Arabia each year to offer instruction in "weapons, field craft and general military skills training, as well as incident handling, bomb disposal, search, public order and sniper training".

"Britain's important role in training the Saudi Arabian National Guard in internal security over many years has enabled them to develop tactics to help suppress the popular uprising in Bahrain,” said Nicholas Gilby of the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

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