Bahrain’s government-initiated national talks to start on Feb 10

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The Bahraini regime has devised plans to commence national dialogue with opposition groups on Sunday, despite the continuation of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The invitations for almost 17 pro-regime and opposition groups will be issued on Wednesday, with the members of both the lower and upper house of the country’s National Assembly also attending the talks beginning on February 10.

"We have every intention to make this dialogue a success," Bahrain's Information Affairs Minister Samira Rajab said. "The onus is on the other parties and their seriousness in pursuing dialogue."

Despite expressing readiness to attend the talks, the opposition groups have cast doubt over the effectiveness of the talks.

The major opposition bloc, al-Wefaq, also pointed out the differences between their goals and the government’s mechanism and aims of the meeting.

The opposition leaders seek the presence of the ruling Al Khalifa family as well as international experts in the talks, senior al-Wefaq official Khalil al-Marzouq noted.

"We want a real dialogue, serious negotiations on a mechanism that will restore powers to the people and turn Bahrain into a constitutional monarchy," Marzouq opined.

Earlier in July 2011, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa called for a national dialogue on reform and announced an investigation into the handling of the uprising by Saudi-backed regime forces.

The dialogue did not yield results as al-Wefaq party quit the negotiations, complaining that since their onset, the government had been trying to muffle the voice of the opposition.

This is while, Anti-regime protests rage on in the Persian Gulf Island, with the demonstrators demanding an elected prime minister replace Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa.

The Bahraini uprising against the Al Khalifa rule began in February 2011. The regime promptly launched a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests and called in Saudi-led Arab forces from neighboring states.

The Manama regime has arrested many rights activists, doctors, and nurses since the revolution began.

The Bahraini government is, meanwhile, supported by the United States despite its record of human rights abuse against its nationals.