The British government has bowed to pressure and revoked licences for arms exports to Bahrain. The French have done the same. At the same time Bahrain’s King Hamad has asked his eldest son, Crown Prince Salman, to try to resolve the current political crisis. US President Barack Obama says that he deeply concerned about the violence in Bahrain while British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “I am alarmed by reports of soldiers firing on protestors in Bahrain. This is an extremely worrying development. The circumstances of what happened are not yet clear, but I call on the Bahrain authorities to avoid violence and the use of excessive force and to exercise restraint. The right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly must be respected. The Bahraini Government should move quickly to carry out its commitments to transparent investigations into recent events and any alleged human rights abuses.
“I welcome the proposal of the King of Bahrain that the Crown Prince should initiate a dialogue between the different communities. Bahrain should take further steps on reforms that meet legitimate aspirations for greater social and political freedoms.”
In the current circumstances it is difficult to understand how anyone can even consider holding a Formula 1 race in this country in three weeks from now. If the violence continues or if the security clampdown succeeds in stopping the people taking to the streets, then no-one in F1 would be safe travelling to Bahrain as the Grand Prix would offer such an opportunity for protesters to make their point that there would either be violence if the authorities tried to stop them going to the circuit, or the race would be held behind a cordon of tanks and military personnel.
Neither scenario is good for Formula One.
In any case, the teams, promoter and other interested parties, such as TV companies, will have trouble getting any insurance for their crews and equipment… There is clearly a case for force majeure and while some money will be lost for those who are shipping equipment to Bahrain, rather than flying it in and out, it is probably better for F1 if none of its equipment goes into Bahrain at the moment, as it is needed just a few days later in Australia.