Communication channels were ablaze with activity on Monday with the announcement of the Crown Prince’s appointment as Deputy PM. International articles were provocative lacking impartiality. It seems that this small island is of great interest to people who knew very little if anything about it until a few years ago. Many are focused on offering their “expert” input with academics offering long-winded collage of words to convince the world that they hold the key to media management and political strategy.
Did media approach a cross section of the community and ask them for opinions? Judging by the ongoing reports one can deduce that the reply is undeniably “NO”. Journalists sitting in Dubai, New York, Tehran and London all passed judgment and not one journalist contradicted slander. Media do not make despicable comments against Khamenei, the Queen or Obama so why about the Bahraini leadership? The Persian American agenda for a Greater Bahrain is bigger than all of us.
Guantanamo Bay has prisoners who have been cleared for release but are still being detained, under 18years olds are jailed and lawyers are often denied access to their clients. A UK youth was murdered in Tottenham last week over a fight and during the London Riots the UK PM did not mince words when he said that violence would not be tolerated and human rights excuses would be discarded. A doctor in Ireland has been jailed and lost his license because of his heinous crime of returning a laptop after using it. In 2011 there were riots between Czech locals and newly settled Roma in northern Bohemia and has now turned into a popular movement in towns along the German border. There have been 74 deaths from self-immolation in Tunisia. In India a medical student was brutally gang-raped and died as a result of her injuries – court proceedings are still in progress. The army is on the streets of Bangladesh as we speak. Uhuru Kenayatta was elected president in Kenya amid violent elections and sadistic Mugabe gave a bizarre speech on his 89th birthday just days ago. Over 1 million Syrians are displaced, 2 million hungry children now live in barns, parks, caves and Assad has murdered over 80,000 citizens. Iran has hanged over five hundred men and women in 2012 and has now blocked all internet service just prior to the elections.
Despite atrocities across the globe, the full focus of international media is on a small island in the Arabian Gulf which has a population of approximately 1.1million as compared to 8.1 million of London in 2011. Bahrain government provides free compulsory education, health and housing, no-one dies of hunger, no-one is homeless and food, fuel and basic consumable items are highly subsidized. Women are treated with respect and men who violate any woman’s basic rights face the heavy hand of the law. Expatriate communities have their own clubs with religious freedom and there is an NGO that takes up the cases of migrant workers. Having said that Bahrain is not faultless, there are gaps but name one flawless country.
The fact of the matter is the PM role has never been an issue until it became a bone of contention for a handful of fanatics with the loudest most violent voices. The Crown Prince who is heir apparent and Deputy Supreme Commander of the BDF has been in his position since 1999.
Rather than applaud the PM for his achievements such as the 2006 UN Special Citation-Habitat Scroll of Honour, the media have chosen to criticise. Locally people know he has supported countless in the community and has been the driving force of the business sector in Bahrain. There is fierce loyalty to the family – there is national pride and there is religion and culture – the foundation of Bahrain society. The Persian Western manipulation is abrasive and has created confusion and pandemonium – all for the sake of power. The normal citizen on the street is of no consequence to the fanatical loud hailers whose only aim is to unseat the government and manipulate their way into handing over Bahrain to Iran. What the outside world is not shown is the commitment the PM has to the people of this country and what he has accomplished over the years. He works tirelessly for a long-term vision to ensure that every man woman and child in this country is taken care of. Is that a selfish ambition? When police were injured, he visited them, when the population was threatened with violence he visited shopping malls to instill confidence, when expats were attacked he met with Ambassadors and reassured them, when businesses were suffering he met with the community to offer support, when there was loss of business he waived LMRA fees and instructed Tamkeen to support the affected businesses fianncially. The PM stands united with the people in the face of adversity; he remains loyal to the people of Bahrain and has never turned his back on citizens, residents or his family.
The CP is US educated and without a doubt he too is well loved and well respected by all communities. He has had to deal with unprecedented political upheaval in a short period of time. There are whispers critiquing the CP but in February 2011 Prince Salman allowed the protestors to go back to the GCC roundabout and waited for the instigators to agree to a meeting. He reached out to the protestors’ leaders more than once and invited them for a dialogue – all his noble appeals were rejected. He urged the protestors to stop the violence and come to the meeting table to resolve issues – they did not, instead Isa Qassim instigated further violence by ordering followers to “crush the police”. Alwefaq had incessantly demanded the CP get involved in governmental decisions. Now that Prince Salman has been appointed as Deputy PM, Al Wefaq has done a u-turn and do not trust this appointment. This is a clear indication of their agenda and motivation to cause a rift within the political circle in Bahrain. Media have failed to recognize his achievement such as the CPISP scholarship programme, Chairman of EDB and spearheading vision 2030, Head of the committee to implement the National Charter, appointing the board for sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat and bringing the first Formula 1 track to the Middle East and placing Bahrain firmly on the international map. He is a progressive thinker and has great ambitions for Bahrain.
When media talk about sectarianism, they fail to share that the majority in Alba, BAPCO, Batelco, Gulf Air, EWA, Tamkeen, LMRA, Ministry of Housing, Health, Education, Housing, GPIC and many more are shiaa. Deputy PM, Ambassador, MPs, Shura Council, Governor, Ministers, Judges and Head of Royal Charity are shiaa. Some of the biggest family businesses Al Aali, Al Arayyed, Toorani, Al Sharif, Al Nooh, Shirazi, are shiaa. There are shiaa in the police force, community police and BDF – all of whom were targeted in their neighborhoods. There is no systematic discrimination in Bahrain with over 70% of local businesses being owned by shiaa.
BBC spoke to belligerent Khalil Marzook who cannot bring himself to deny Welayat Faqih and to an “expert” academic from Durham University but forgot to mention that this very university is funded by Iran. Hardly impartial reporting! They spoke to an unnamed CP adviser who testified on behalf of the entire population but forgot to mention the loyalty people have for the PM who too accepted criticism. Bill Law referred to Mansoor Al Jamri, editor and chief of Al Wasat as the“only independent newspaper in the Kingdom”. This statement alone exemplifies ignorance.
Two incidents that indicate interference is a meeting that took place between the US Ambassador and Khalil Marzooq (and one other person) at the same location as the National Dialogue and an unsubstantiated announcement in FT of Saudi support for dialogue with Bahrain opposition groups. These events are a serious breach of security and meddling in the internal affairs of an independent country.
The PM and the CP are a strong team. Both are visionary and committed to the future of Bahrain. International media must focus on the positivity of this collaboration and acknowledge that neither wants to see the country dissolve into insignificance. Citizens and residents must stand firmly behind both and support them wholeheartedly – this is the way forward for progress. Bahrain has a very strong culture and historically the vast majority of the population is loyal to the family. Rather than allow outsiders to divide and conquer the community, Bahrainis must decide if they will stand in solidarity with the ruling family or sell their country to Iran.