US President Donald Trump bestowed a rare award on King Hamad of Bahrain on Tuesday, acknowledging the Gulf state's normalisation of ties with Israel on his lastfullday in office.
Trump's Arab recognition
Trump, who sees Arab recognition of Israel as a key overseas achievement of his presidency, already conferred the same award on King Mohammed VI of Morocco last week for his move to restore ties.
'King Hamad has challenged old assumptions'
Announcing his bestowal of the Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, on King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Trump also paid tribute to Bahrain's hosting of a June 2019 conference on the economic dimensions of his controversial Middle East peace plan, which broke with decades of international consensus and was boycotted by the Palestinians.
"King Hamad has shown extraordinary courage and leadership through his support of the Vision for Peace and his decision to establish full diplomatic relations with the State of Israel," the official Bahrain News Agency quoted Trump as saying.
"King Hamad has challenged old assumptions about the possibility for peace in the region, and in doing so, positively reshaped the landscape of the Middle East for generations," Trump added.
(Photograph:WION Web Team)
Just across the Gulf from Iran, Bahrain is a longstanding Western ally which is home to the US Fifth Fleet.
In 2011, with support from neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the Sunni ruling family crushed month-long Shiite-led protests for an elected prime minister.
It has since banned the two main opposition parties and thrown dozens of dissidents in jail.
Trump decorates Gulf ally Qatar
The Legion of Merit is a military award that was created to honour allied leaders in World War II and had gone into obscurity until it was revived by Trump, who last month also presented it to the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan.
Washington also decorated Gulf ally Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, Doha said in a statement.
Trump presidency set to get over
Sheikh Mohammed oversaw talks between Washington and the Taliban that resulted in a landmark force withdrawal agreement that Trump has claimed as a key foreign policy victory as he sought to draw down America's "forever wars".
On Wednesday at noon, President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in and the Trump presidency will be over.
Trump on cloud computing products
President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at thwarting foreign use of cloud computing products for malicious cyber operations against the United States on his last full day in office.
The order gives the Commerce Department authority to write rules to bar transactions with foreigners in cloud computing products or services, if a foreigner uses them for cyber attacks.
Biden can revoke executive order
US officials have been working on the directive for nearly two years, the official said. But its unveiling will follow a massive hacking campaign which used US tech company SolarWinds as a springboard to penetrate federal government networks.
Senior US officials and lawmakers have alleged Russia is to blame for the hacking spree, a charge the Kremlin denies.
Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, who will take the oath of office on Wednesday, could easily revoke an executive order issued in the waning days of the Trump presidency.
Biden's transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.