Every December since 1989 I have felt as if the entire country celebrates my birthday and in January 2014, I will celebrate my silver jubilee in Bahrain. I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs, but my experiences have left me a fiercely loyal resident of Bahrain. My feeling for Bahrain is summed up in a few eloquent words said by the Prime Minister, HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa “though small in size, great with the will of its people”.
Bahrain may not be the biggest, the most efficient or the prettiest country in the world – but most of us who live here cherish the camaraderie in an integrated society, made up of over 80 nationalities freely practicing Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddism, Sikh, Bahai and Judaism amongst others. Despite all this tolerance and warmth, over the last three years, international media has systematically betrayed the people of this country. Sadly, well-known media houses around the globe have taken it upon themselves to publish false allegations against a nation that unconditionally supports and respects the Al Khalifa family. To add credibility to their blatant lies, enemies of the state, have adopted “learned” academics to publish analysis and jargon that most of us cannot begin to fathom.
A minuscule part of this society called for an Islamic State and the death of an entire family with baseless allegations of sectarianism, human rights abuse, lack of freedom of religion and no freedom of speech. What the west has not exposed are these terrorists who idolize radical Khamenei and Nasserallah, have become blinded from reality into a state of delusion and now live as rogues. Illegal politicised NGOs such as Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYCHR) and Bahrain Watch to name a few survive on undeclared funding, recruit impressionable youth and threaten residents into submission so that hooligans may continue their brutal violence and human rights abuse, yet portray a face of innocence to global media. The all shiaa Alwefaq political party has been vocal in falsely accusing the government of atrocities and had the audacity to abandon their own constituencies by giving up 18 seats in parliament as a mark of protest in 2011. While the West preaches National Dialogue to Bahrain, they conveniently ignore the reconciliation process welcomed from the outset; opposition groups on the other hand have adamantly rejected all the government’s efforts by making unreasonable demands and continue to condone deadly attacks on unarmed security personnel and civilians.
Meanwhile, western media sympathize with criminals and encourage attacks on civilians whilst emphatically condemning the government of Bahrain – thus alienating the peaceful majority. Self exiled Saeed Alshehabi, Said Yousif, Ali Abdulemam and Abdul Raouf Alsheyab are just four puppet masters who languish in luxury in the UK. Why does the British government harbour men and women with known links to international terrorist groups? A former British Diplomat recently said, “The UK government should do more to confront Bahraini dissidents – some of who have been convicted of terrorism – using London as a base from which to foment unrest”. Can we expect the UK to take strong action against known “dissidents”?
The government of Bahrain provides free housing, health and education for each citizen – the leadership has been visionary in its actions. Despite men and women being offered all the freedom possible, foreign interference and funding has converted a handful into fanatical street louts who are now ostracized by society for their deviant criminal behaviour. Encouraged and indoctrinated by their guardians (parents, religious scholars, teachers, doctors and community leaders) violent terrorist attacks on unarmed civilians, security personnel and the destruction of public and private property continues.
With the foresight to make Bahrain a stronger regional power the PM established a foreign policy to encourage co-operation at regional, Arab and international levels. In the early 1980s when asked about factors of instability, the Prime Minister said “I think we should have relations with all nations of the world”.
It is a known fact that Bahrain being strategically located with threats of foreign interference needed support through a stronger and trusted partnership. The PM has strived for a united Arab World. The formation of the GCC and the Peninsula Shield is not an after thought during the attempted 2011 coup; on the contrary it is a vision that goes back over four decades. The GCC was formed on 25th May 1981 and during this period Shaikh Khalifa said, “ I think the most important factor is the creation of the Gulf Co-operation Council. This should give both East and West more confidence in the continuation of stable business in the area”. Bahrain continues to be effective within the partnership to increase the strength of the region for the benefit the people. Focused on the strategic value of maintaining relationships with major powers across the globe and to diversify Bahrain’s national income to include commerce, tourism, urbanization and industry, the Premier built a strong connection with S.E Asia. He has one clear vision – a better, more secure Bahrain for all.
The Premier’s words on making the security pact with Saudi Arabia in 1981 reflect the emotion of the nation today, when he said “I see the security pact as a frame on a nice picture. We must protect this nice picture and put security around it to protect our development. Before, as we developed ourselves from nothing, security was in the hearts of the people. Now we feel that we must protect ourselves from the outside, so we must put a frame around – a strong frame – to allow us to continue what we have been working on for many years”.
As we approach the third year of ongoing disruption perhaps it is time to take on the Prime Minister’s sentiment when he said almost 40 years ago “no development without peace and no prosperity without security”. This is the ethos of other countries’ policies four decades later and yet Bahrain is targeted and manipulated by super powers that forget that this head of government will never fail the people of this country – he is committed to the progress of Bahrain.
Recently, Obama signed a deal with Iran, Cameron visited China and Biden went to Japan – it is evident that Bahrain will continue to be under threat by foreign powers. Quite interestingly during these visits Thailand is undergoing major internal challenges – it seems the world is full of political turmoil – only time will expose the agenda of the world’s super powers – as has been the case with Bahrain.
Lets’ not forget that Shaikh Khalifa in 1981 said, “American foreign policy is not new to us. We have good relations with the US, and so we know US foreign policy. We cannot be the one, out of so many countries, to say the US is the reason for this or that. But I must say that the US is a country that could participate in bringing peace in the region. I am sure the US has a role to play to maintain peace in the region”.
In December 2013 after being congratulated for being presented with the Statesman Award in the Asian Leadership Forum (one of tens of international accolades), the Prime Minister of Bahrain in his usual humble manner said “ any recognition received is a recognition for Bahrain, its leadership and its peoples; which strengthens our determination to serve the people of Bahrain and increases the nation’s and its people’s accomplishments”.
As we enter a new era, I hope the world truly respects what this country’s leadership has done for the people and acknowledges her enemies. Being the gateway to the gulf, it really is time for us all to stand as one and carry the torch of peace, security and solidarity with one voice and one vision for a better Bahrain.