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Zarif Chides Latest Crackdown by Manama
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Zarif Chides Latest Crackdown by Manama

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the latest deadly crackdown by Bahraini security forces on protesters was the outcome of US President Donald Trump "cozying up" to despots during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia.
"First concrete result of [Trump] cozying up to despots in Riyadh: Deadly attack on peaceful protesters by emboldened Bahrain regime," Zarif said on his official Twitter account on Tuesday, as cited by Press TV.
Zarif's tweet came on the same day that Bahrain's security forces stormed the home of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of the country's Shia majority in a northwestern village, killing five people and arresting everyone inside the house.
Security forces launched a bloody attack on protesters who had convened in al-Fida Square in the village of Diraz. The regime also blocked Internet access in the area.
Bahraini security forces shot and killed at least five demonstrators during the operation. There have been reports of security forces firing birdshot at protesters and teargas into the house of the prominent cleric.
The Bahraini Interior Ministry said in a statement that security forces had arrested dozens of demonstrators in the village but the senior cleric was not among them.
The bloody operations in Diraz are likely to raise tensions in the tiny Arab kingdom days after the US president said Washington's relationship with Manama —long strained over its human rights record— would improve. Bahrain is home to the US Navy's 5th fleet.

  Miscalculation
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi also on Tuesday denounced the attack on Bahraini protesters and the raid on the residence of Sheikh Qassim, saying the move was a "miscalculation" by Manama.
"The Bahraini government has complicated the ongoing situation in the country more than before with its attack on the village of Diraz and its raid on the home of senior cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim as well as killing and injuring tens of defenseless and peaceful protesters."
He noted that the state violence and suppression and pursuit of sectarian approaches against the Bahraini people will not help end the drawn-out conflict in the country.
The spokesperson pointed to Sheikh Qassim's elevated religious and political status among Muslims and said the Bahraini government will be held responsible for the consequences of any assault against him.
Qasemi urged Bahrain to stop its security and military approach and work for a political settlement and national dialogue instead of relying on foreign powers in dealing with the religious and political elite and the people's legitimate demands.
He called on Manama to prepare the ground for solving the crisis by building confidence among the people.
Diraz is the native village of Sheikh Isa Qassim. It has been the scene of protests since last June, when the authorities stripped the cleric of his citizenship over accusations that he used his position to serve foreign interests and promote "sectarianism" and "violence". He has denied the allegations.
The protests escalated after a court convicted Qassim on Sunday of the illegal collection of funds and money laundering and sentenced him to one year in jail suspended for three years. The charges emanate from the collection of an Islamic donation called Khums, which in Shia Islam is collected and spent by a senior cleric among the needy.

 

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