Liam Fox faces questions over pro-regime Bahrain summit
Ruling family have held on to power in the face of two years of protests inspired by the Arab Spring
Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary, will this weekend be one of the chief guests at a conference designed to rally Western opinion to the side of the Bahrain government in its struggle against street protests and civil rights demonstrations.
Mr Fox is the only Briton on the list of “key people” attending the Bahrain International Symposium. Other guests include prominent American neoconservatives, such as John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN.
The symposium’s stated mission is to “examine institutional developments and political reforms in Bahrain (and) the challenges of empowering diverse coalitions for democratic transition and stability.”
Bahrain’s ruling family have held on to power in the face of two years of protests inspired by the Arab Spring. Mr Fox could not be contacted yesterday to answer questions about whether his presence at the symposium indicated his support for the Bahrani government in its struggle with the demonstrators. More than 60 people have died during two years of protests. On Tuesday, it was reported that 13 civil rights demonstrators had been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The Bahrain government has shown itself to be sensitive to Western opinion, and anxious to portray its government as a constitutional monarchy tolerant of religious minorities and seeking a peaceful transition to democracy. But critics say the Sunni royal family has no intention of surrendering power.
The two-day conference is sponsored by Bahrain University and by the Washington-based Bahrain American Council, which was set up in 2011 by a PR firm, Policy Impact Communications, to promote trade between the US and Bahrain and to convince opinion leaders in the West that Bahrain has a stable regime on the path to reform.
Last summer, the Bahrain American Council paid out £13,900 to fly Dan Burton, a Republican congressman from Indiana, and his wife to Bahrain. Mr Burton, who will join Mr Fox at the symposium, praised the “statesman-like” conduct of Bahrain’s King and urged the US media to “project Bahrain’s true image”. Organisations taking part in the conference include the American Enterprise Institute, which lobbied for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank associated with Ronald Reagan.
Mr Fox was seen as a cheerleader leader for Tory right and potentially as a future prime minister until he was forced to resign in 2011 over his friendship with Adam Werritty.
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
New essay by JK Rowling went live on pottermore site this morning
Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser
Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study
Want to ward off (or welcome) trick-or-treaters? Here's how
- 1 'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it
- 5 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
Halloween 2014: From the Screaming Man of Pluckley to the 'White Lady' of the Tower of London - Britain's 20 most haunted places
Russian politician says Apple CEO Tim Cook should be 'banned' from country after coming out as gay
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Position: Early Years TeacherRequired: J...
£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...
£95 - £105 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: KS1 ...