TWO YEARS after protests erupted in the tiny kingdom of Bahrain, King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa has finally announced talks with the political opposition. But the people of Bahrain need more than just talk. The largest opposition party, al-Wefaq, faces popular pressure to withdraw from negotiations. Many in Bahrain have lost faith in the royal family’s willingness to implement democratic reform.
If the Sunni king — a strong US ally whose family has ruled since the 19th century — is serious about allowing Bahrain’s Shi’ite majority a greater voice, he needs to show it. He must pardon and release the “Bahrain 13,” a group of opposition leaders arrested in 2011. He must end violence against nonviolent protesters. And he must hold his own government accountable for systematic torture.