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Thursday, October 02, 2008

That Arab yearning for peace

In Bahrain, a surprising proposal:
The foreign minister of staunch US ally Bahrain has called for the creation of a regional grouping of Arab states with historic foe Israel, as well as Iran and Turkey, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

"Israel, Iran, Turkey and Arab states should sit together in one organisation," Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa was quoted in the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat as saying.

"Aren't we all members of a global organisation called the United Nations? Why not (come together) on a regional basis? This is the only way to solve our problems. There's no other way to solve them, now or in 200 years."

Al-Hayat, which interviewed the Bahraini chief diplomat in New York, said he had proposed the establishment of a regional bloc in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

And an unsurprising response:
an NGO yesterday slammed the Foreign Minister's comments.

"We are dismayed and outraged at such repeated normalisation overtures with the Zionist enemy,"

Bahrain Anti-Normalisation Organisation's secretary general Abdulla Abdulmalik said.

"Such moves represent an affront to our parliament and public opinion, who are totally inimical to any form of normalisation."

He accused the minister of disregarding MPs, Bahraini people and civil society, who unflinching support the Palestinian struggle.

He described it as the translation of the American pro-Israel project in the Middle East, also known as the Greater Middle East.

"The moribund Arab League Peace Initiative at least acknowledges the Palestinians' basic legitimate rights," he said, accusing the minister of seeking to normalise with Israel for free.

Media Line notes:
While Bahrain's leadership has been willing to meet with Israeli officials, it is a nation led by a Sunni dynasty ruling a Shi’ite majority, making greater change unlikely.
We have heard from this Bahraini organization before.