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Bahraini journalist bullied online seeks support from Jewish colleagues

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The president of the Bahrain Journalists’ Association (BJA) has claimed that Arab media professionals advocating normalisation with Israel are being bullied and threatened online. Ahdeya Ahmed Al-Sayed made her claim during an online conference organised by the American Jewish Press Association (AJPA) in which she asked her Jewish colleagues for support.

“If you’d like to support us as we support peace, it would be a good thing,” said Al-Sayed. “The AJPA can do a lot. If we don’t do anything, then journalists will never try to even attempt to be outspoken about [normalisation].”

Al-Sayed is the first female to be elected to lead the 600-member BJA. She won a seat for Bahrain for the first time on the International Federation of Journalists’ Gender Council that aims to protect and defend the rights of female journalists around the world.

The BJA president plans to lead the first-ever delegation of journalists from Bahrain to Israel this year and claims to have come under attack for celebrating the Abraham Accords, the US-brokered agreements which have ushered in public rapprochement between Israel and several Arab states. “Yes, I went through being bullied, being harassed on social media, being called names. And I felt hurt.”

The rhetoric crossed the “limit of what you can say about a woman” in Bahrain, she explained. The unbearable distress was compounded because her three sons and husband had to read the hateful words.

READ: The 7 dangers of the new wave of normalisation with Israel

Last year, the Trump administration engineered diplomatic pacts between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, the first Arab normalisation deals since Jordan recognised Israel in the 1990s and Egypt did in the 1970s.

Palestinians, as well as many countries, are critical of the so-called “peace agreements”. “I still smile when I think about it,” said Al-Sayed. “Actually, I think it was the best thing that happened in 2020.”

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Asia & Americas

Trump awards Bahrain’s King Hamad the Legion of Merit

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Outgoing US President Donald Trump awarded the King of Bahrain the Legion of Merit with the Degree of Chief Commander yesterday. King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa was given the award “in recognition of his remarkable efforts to strengthen Bahrain-US friendship relations and solid partnership,” state-run Bahrain News Agency reported today.

The decoration is awarded regularly to foreign leaders by the US president in recognition of close ties between the respective states and for outstanding achievements. Trump praised King Hamad’s decision to normalise ties with Israel.

“His decision has ushered in a new era of economic and security cooperation between the United States’ most important partners in the Middle East,” said the president on his penultimate full day in office. “King Hamad has challenged old assumptions about the possibility for peace in the region, and in doing so, positively reshaped the landscape of the Middle East for future generations.”

Trump added that he hopes ties between the US and Bahrain will continue to be strengthened under the next administration. Bahrain’s monarch thanked the president for the prestigious award, saying that his country is proud to work with the US.

The award comes soon after Morocco’s King Mohammed VI was honoured similarly. The late Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait was granted the award in September, just ten days before he died.

Read: Trump gives awards to top aides for Arab-Israeli deals

Furthermore, Bahrain and the UAE were designated as “major security partners” by the US on Saturday. The previously unheard of status is currently unique to the UAE and Bahrain. It is obviously linked to the Gulf States’ normalisation of ties with Israel last year. Both also host major American military operations. The island Kingdom, for example, is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

“[This designation] recognises our exceptional security partnership, exemplified by their hosting thousands of United States soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, and the commitment of each country to countering violent extremism across the region,” explained White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. “It also reflects [the two countries’] extraordinary courage, determination and leadership in entering into the Abraham Accord [with Israel].”

The award also comes after Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia agreed to end their blockade of Qatar imposed in mid-2017. The diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar followed accusations that Qatar supported terrorism. Aided by Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, negotiations achieved a breakthrough which ended the blockade earlier this month.

Read: Bahraini journalist bullied online seeks support from Jewish colleagues

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Bahrain

Pfizer delays January vaccine delivery to Bahrain

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A January shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the Gulf state of Bahrain will not arrive on time, the ministry of health said on Saturday, but second doses of the jab already scheduled will not be affected, reports Reuters.

The small island state of Bahrain has the third-highest rate of vaccinations per capita in the world so far, according to the Our World in Data website, which is run by an Oxford University research programme.

“The delay … will not affect citizens and residents receiving the second dose of the vaccine over the upcoming period, according to current scheduled dates and the availability of the needed quantity for them,” the health ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency BNA.

READ: Bahrain latest country to vaccinate frontline workers with COVID-19 shot

Bahrain offers its citizens free of charge either the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or one manufactured by Chinese state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm.

Other Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and the emirate of Dubai have also purchased the Pfizer jabs.

U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer this week said there would be a temporary impact on shipments in late January to early February caused by changes to manufacturing processes to boost production

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Asia & Americas

Pompeo: Trump should win Nobel prize for Middle East peace

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US State Secretary Mike Pompeo has suggested that outgoing President Donald Trump should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for promoting harmony between Arab countries and Israel.

This comes despite Trump facing trial in the Senate after becoming the first US president to be charged with misconduct in office for a second time.

The trial will be held after the president leaves office next Wednesday.

Pompeo’s suggestion was made on his official Twitter account, with a photo of Trump waving from a White House balcony with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior officials from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain and a message that only included a link to the Nobel committee.

This comes after Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed were put forward for the award by Nobel laureate Lord David Trimble last year for normalising relations between Israel and the UAE.

Following the signing, a far-right Norwegian politician, Christian Tybring-Gjedde, said he had also nominated the US president for the award.

“For his merit, I think he has done more trying to create peace between nations than most other Peace Prize nominees,” Tybring-Gjedde, who heads Norway’s delegation to NATO, told Fox News.

READ: Trump the banned president

Tybring-Gjedde wrote in his nomination letter to the Nobel Committee that “as it is expected other Middle Eastern countries will follow in the footsteps of the UAE, this agreement could be a game changer that will turn the Middle East into a region of cooperation and prosperity,” the report said.

The UAE was the first Arab country to establish diplomatic ties with Israel last year, it was quickly followed by Bahrain, Sudan and, more recently, Morocco. The agreements were slammed by Palestinian officials.

The winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, which is selected by a panel of five people appointed by the Norwegian parliament, will be announced in October.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was named the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize laureate in recognition of his efforts to make peace with foe Eritrea.

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