Power struggle deepens divisions among Bahraini royal family

Police suspended for torture reinstated as hardliners seek to marginalise their 'liberal' prince

Senior Bahraini police officers suspended for torturing detainees are being swiftly reinstated in a sign of a growing struggle for power within the al-Khalifa royal family over the extent of the repression to be used against pro-democracy protesters.

In addition, 90 Jordanian officers, serving in the Bahraini police force and alleged to have mistreated prisoners, are having their contracts terminated and are being sent back to Jordan, opposition sources have told The Independent. They say it is not clear if this is to purge the security forces of the worst offenders or to get rid of witnesses to the wholesale use of torture when the government crushed the Arab Awakening movement in Bahrain in March.

Increasing divisions within the Sunni royal family are becoming more blatant as statements by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa aimed at conciliating the majority Shia community are not followed up by action. Though he told state and private companies to reinstate the 2,500 employees sacked for taking part in pro-democracy protests, many have been unable to get their old jobs back.

The government's actions are also contradictory. Earlier this month it suspended several senior police officers, some of them members of the al-Khalifa ruling family, after they were accused of being implicated in torturing prisoners. One officer held an important position at Riffa police station, notorious for the use of torture, and another was a section chief of the CID. Demonstrations by Sunni in Riffa in favour of the suspended officers were followed by the immediate reinstatement of at least one of the men.

The hardliners in the royal family are led by the army commander, Khalifa bin Ahmed, and his brother, the Royal Court Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed. They were once at odds with the Prime Minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman, who has held his job for 40 years since the British left in 1971, but they closed ranks when the Arab Awakening started in February in Bahrain, sparked by pro-democracy uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

The largely peaceful demonstrations centred on Pearl Square in the middle of the Bahraini capital Manama, but the government reacted as if it was facing an armed insurrection. A Saudi-led military force crossed the causeway from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain in the middle of March and a brutal crackdown followed with mass arrests and use of torture. Forensic experts brought in by an investigating commission verified that 63 detainees had been so severely mistreated that marks of torture were still visible three or four months later.

The hardliners in the royal family, supported by Saudi Arabia, have sought to marginalise Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad, seen as the most liberal royal. Before the March crackdown he sought to work out an agreement with al-Wifaq, the main opposition party. Since then he, along with King Hamad, has lost much of his authority.

The government crackdown was accompanied by the state media launching an anti-Shia campaign, claiming, without any evidence, that Iran had fomented armed rebellion against the al-Khalifa dynasty. Sectarian hatreds increased, leading to Sunni-run private companies and state organisations refusing to re-employ sacked Shia employees despite the King's order.

Mohammed Sadiq of Justice for Bahrain says that among those sacked who have not been re-employed are 24 Shia journalists, working on Al-Ayam newspaper, who were fired on 16 March. Some 402 workers at Aluminium Bahrain (almost all Shia) were sacked and only 50 have been re-employed though they have had to sign new employment contracts whereby they lose all annual leave and sickness benefits.

The continuing repression has not returned stability to Bahrain and is not likely to do so. There are nightly protests in Shia districts with the police using rubber bullets and stun grenades. Occasional deaths of protesters enrage the Shia community. Particular fury was caused by the death of Ali Jawad al-Sheikh, 14, apparently killed by a tear gas grenade fired at point-blank range.

The ruling family – from liberal voice to hardline colonel

Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa

Seen as the most liberal member of the Khalifa family, the Crown Prince had sought an agreement with opposition parties before protests began. Now, increasingly marginalised by hardliners in the royal family, he has lost much of his authority.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa

Conciliatory moves from the king aimed at the majority Shia community have not been followed up by action. Despite ordering state companies to reinstate employees sacked for taking part in protests, many have not yet been able to get their jobs back.

Colonel Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Khalifa

As the leading hardliner within the royal family, the army commander has benefited from the support of Saudi Arabia, which sent a military force to help crush protests in March. He has seen his influence grow as the crackdown continues. Richard Hall

Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone