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Sheikh Isa Qassim says Bahrainis reject Bennett’s Manama visit

Bahrain’s leading cleric and resistance leader Sheikh Isa Qassim says the people of Bahrain reject the presence of Israeli premier Naftali Bennett in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

Taking strong exception to Bennett’s two-day visit to Manama, Sheikh Isa Qassim dubbed him “an arch foe”, adding that the nation of Bahrain rejects the Israeli regime, as reported by Lebanon’s el-Nashra newspaper on Monday.

The spiritual leader of Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest political opposition, stressed that “the proud Bahraini people” resolutely resist and denounce Bennett’s maiden visit to their country.

Bennett arrived in Manama earlier on Monday in the highest-level visit since the two sides normalized their relations under a 2020 US-brokered deal.

Bahrain, along with the United Arab Emirates, signed a peace pact with Tel Aviv regime in a ceremony hosted by former US president Donald Trump at the White House in September 2020.

Sudan and Morocco followed suit later in the year and inked similar US-brokered normalization deals with the occupying regime.

Palestinians slammed the deals as a treacherous “stab in the back” and a betrayal of their cause against the decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Bennett’s visit to Manama coincided with the 11th anniversary of the February 14 uprising against Bahrain’s pro-Israel and pro-West Al Khalifa regime.

Earlier, speaking at a ceremony to mark the revolution anniversary on Monday, Sheikh Isa Qassim said Bahrainis will sustain the popular uprising until all their demands are met.

In a televised address from the holy city of Qom, he urged people in his country to demonstrate perseverance and remain steadfast and united in their struggle against the Al Khalifa regime.

“Faithful peoples will exercise patience in their struggle against oppression. Nobody can emerge triumphant by sitting idle. Victory can only be achieved through unity and solidarity,” he stated.

Bahrainis took to the streets of Manama and other cities and towns across the country on Monday to mark the 11th anniversary of the uprising and to protest Bennett’s visit.

“Eleven years of patience and steadfastness on the path of truth,” al-Wefaq National Islamic Society said in a statement.

“Our demands are just… Bahrainis are demonstrating on the anniversary of the February 14 revolution, as reaffirmation of the continuation of the movement demanding rights,” it said.

Demonstrations have been held in the tiny Persian Gulf country on a regular basis since the popular uprising began in mid-February 2011.

Manama, however, has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any form of dissent.

On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure slammed by human rights groups as being tantamount to the imposition of an undeclared martial law.

King Hamad ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3, 2017.

The protesters on Monday demanded that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system, representing all Bahrainis, to be established. They also decried Bennett’s visit.

“We, the people of Bahrain, will remain defenders of the Palestinian cause and do not accept any normalization deal with the occupying regime,” said Hossein al-Dihi, deputy secretary-general of Bahrain’s main opposition group.

“Our nation seeks a dignified life and freedom, and the fight against political and financial corruption and the plunder of public property,” he added.

Meanwhile, according to reports, Vice Admiral Charles Bradley Cooper, commander of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, held a meeting with Bennett Tuesday morning, amid the IMX military exercise led by the fleet with the participation of Israeli military.

Earlier this month, the Israel Navy had announced that it would have an officer permanently stationed in Bahrain, to maintain communications with the fleet.

This will be the first time that an Israeli military officer is stationed in an Arab state.

Bennett also met his Bahraini counterpart, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa on Tuesday, according to reports.

 

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