The Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs has told a visiting United States diplomat he is no longer welcome in the country and said he “should leave immediately”.
On Monday, Bahrain accused US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Tom Malinowski of “interference in its internal affairs”. The statement said that the diplomat held “meetings with one party, leaving out others who represent different parts of society”. The statement added that his “approach… discriminates amongst the people of this one nation”.
Malinowski, who arrived in the Gulf Island nation on Sunday, was told to leave following a meeting with Shi’a opposition group, Al-Wefaq, reported the Associated Press.
While Bahrain’s population is majority Shi’a, the ruling royal family is Sunni, with the Shi’a population protesting regularly to demand greater political rights.
In 2011 political protests in Bahrain were violently dispersed with the help of military support from other gulf nations.
The US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday the US was “deeply concerned” by the decision. She added that Malinowski’s visit “had been coordinated far in advance and warmly welcomed and encouraged by the government of Bahrain”. Psaki stressed the Bahrain government “is well-aware that U.S. government officials routinely meet with all officially-recognized political societies”.
Psaki said the Bahraini side insisted that a foreign ministry official accompany Malinowski to “private meetings with individuals and groups representing a broad spectrum of Bahraini society, including those held at the US embassy”. She added that Bahrain’s “actions are not consistent with the strong partnership” between the two countries.
The Bahraini foreign ministry stressed its “strong and solid relations” with the US adding that “the progress and development of these ties should not be affected by such unfortunate acts.”
In a Monday press briefing, Psaki said Malinowski’s visit was meant to “reaffirm and strengthen … bilateral ties and to support His Royal Majesty King Hamad’s reform and reconciliation efforts at an important time”. She stressed that the diplomat remained in Bahrain.