The State Department has allowed U.S. embassy staffers
to return to Bahrain, but the Defense Department has refrained from issuing
such a decision.
The State Department said it terminated its travel warning to Bahrain
after a review of the security situation. The move came nearly six weeks
after the evacuation of American dependents from the Gulf Cooperation
Council state in July.
For its part, the Pentagon said it would not authorize the return of
dependents of its staffers or those from the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. About
3,000 sailors and other naval personnel have been based with the Fifth Fleet
Fifth Fleet spokesman Lt. William Speaks said the evacuation of
of military personnel was based on threats beyond Bahrain. Speaks said the
regional threat was still deemed valid, Middle East Newsline reported.
Howeer, a U.S. Defense Department school for the children of
dependents of American military personnel in Bahrain will reopen for the
forthcoming school year.
Organizers said the Pentagon-sponsored Bahrain School will reopen for
classes on Aug. 31 despite the departure of 350 students and 80 teachers
from the kingdom. The students and teachers were included in the evacuation
of more than 1,000
dependents of U.S. defense and military personnel from Bahrain in July.
"The decision to open the Bahrain School has been taken at the very
highest levels of government in both Bahrain and the United States and
reinforces the historic special relationship between the two countries,"
Dhafer Al Umran, a board member of the Bahrain International School
"The decision resulted from a careful and thorough review of the
existing security situation in Bahrain and the potential for future attacks
on U.S. interests and facilities in the area," a State Department statement
on Aug. 12. "The embassy has determined that there are currently no specific
threats to U.S. mission personnel in Bahrain."
In July, about 1,000 dependents of U.S. military and other staffers were
evacuated from Bahrain in wake of an alert of an Al Qaida-related attack.
The evacuation also included non-essential personnel from the U.S. embassy
in Manama and their dependents.
State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said the decision to return
embassy staffers to Manama was based on its arrest of six suspected Islamic
insurgents as well as security measures taken by the kingdom and U.S.
"I would say our decision to end authorized departure, or lift
authorized departure status, is based on a variety of considerations,
including steps we've been able to take to protect ourselves, as well as
counterterrorism cooperation and other steps host government has been able
to take," Ereli said.
The State Department also reported the return of non-essential embassy
staffers to Saudi Arabia. But the department said families of U.S. diplomats
would not be included.
"The original decision to relocate family members and non-essential
staff was not based on the travel advisory or security situation in Bahrain
alone," Speaks said. "It was based on the entire region. The travel advisory
for this area at large is still in effect. So at this point no decision has
been made by the department to change the status."
On July 14, Bahrain detained six people accused of being part of an Al
plot against targets in the kingdom. Bahrain has also bolstered security
around key ports.
"It is important for everyone to understand that [the relocation of
family members and non-essential staff] was not based on one travel advisory
for Bahrain or certain individuals being detained," Speaks told the
Manama-based Gulf Daily News. "It was based on a pool of information."