High-level political relationships
There is a close relationship between the UK government and the authoritarian Bahraini regime. On 7 August 2013, Bahrain’s King Hamad met with Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street, expressing his thanks for the UK’s supportive stances towards Bahrain. At the same time he indicated his eagerness to buy Eurofighter Typhoon jets (Gulf Daily News, 7.8.2013).
Other recent visits include King Hamad visiting Downing Street in July 2010, the Crown Prince meeting the Foreign Secretary William Hague in December 2010 (Mark Curtis, 24.9.2012), and coming again in May 2011 (Independent, 20.5.2011), King Hamad returning the following December (Guardian, 12.12.2011) and also being invited to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee banquet in May 2012 (Daily Mail, 7.4.2012).
Another Bahraini prince, Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad al-Khalifa, was a VIP guest at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics despite allegations of direct involvement in the repression of pro-democracy supporters (Sunday Times, 15.4.2012). He also attended Counter Terror Expo in the UK in April 2013 (Bahrain News Agency, 25.4.2013).
The close relationship also involves trips in the opposite direction. Philip Hammond was part of a September 2012 delegation to Bahrain that he said was in support of Her Majesty Government’s policy for defence engagement and wider foreign policy (Hansard, 15.10.2012). In April 2013 the head of UKTI DSO, Richard Paniguian, met with the Bahraini Minister for Defence Affairs to discuss bilateral military cooperation, i.e. arms sales (Bahrain News Agency, 29.4.2013).