Wednesday, November 22, 2006

time to go, khalifa

After 35 years:
Time to go, Khalifa

Abduljalil Alsingace
20th November 2006

Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa has been the only ever Bahrain prime minister, since the formation of the State in 1971. Over the past 35 years, Bahrain has witnessed many crisis and is the only unstable Arab State in the Gulf. Under Sh Khalifa premiership, Bahrain has been through a continuous turmoil as a result of his policy and running of the day-to-day business of the country, leading to a SINGLE conclusion and that it is time for him to step down, and allow the people to choose their own government.

During his premiership, the following may be taken as pointers to his style of leadership:

1) Sustained State Security measures:
He Government was responsible for eradication of 1973-75 parliamentarian council and enforcing State Security law and its jury, which was responsible for the killing and execution of scores of citizens, the forcible exile of hundreds and imprisonment of thousands of Bahrainis. These measures are now being resurrected in new pseudo democratic format, under the existing half elected consultative council. Since 2003, demonstrators, activists and protesters have been dealt with using the old repressive techniques; Special Forces, public prosecution and the judicial system, in conjunction with the law: the Penal code, the Gathering (old and new) code, Press code and recently Terrorism code. Detentions and imprisonment have become normal occurrence: Abdulhadi Al-khawaja, detainees of the societies petition, Bahrainonline directors and other bloggers, Bahrain Airport demonstrators, Dana Mall, and last but not least, Publications detainees (Dr Mohammad Saeed and Husain Alhebshi).

These measures played a major role in the instability and unrest during the past era, and will definitely lead to more troubles ahead, once activated. This could be avoided by changing the mentality by which things are being run in Bahrain.

2- Sectarian sedition:
Sectarian discrimination and favouritism have been practiced as “unwritten Law” during Sheikh Khalifa’s reign. It is now known that certain ministries are classified as Sunni and others as Shia. Religious freedom is orientated to cause maximum humiliation of the followers of one sect, but not the other. Favouritism and incentives are linked to the loyalty to the ruling family. The last Government re-shuffle brought 22 ministers: 11 ministers from Al-Khalifa, 6 Sunni ministers and 5 Shia ministers. Is there a more sectarian and favourite post allocations than this?

2) Corruption:
Under the supremacy of this Government, corruption has been encouraged and its extent has become so diverse that it has caused a real moral crisis in the government. People and media speak ofcorruption, but nobody is able to do something about it as it is sheltered by well-known and influential individuals in this Government, including the PM. They are simply untouchables by the media or the law. On one side, huge buildings are erected in certain parts of Bahrain indicating exceptional and questionable wealth, whereas on the other side, people have nothing to eat or place to shelter. As a result, signs of popular frustrations and bursts, resulting from corruption-related policies and programs, have become a worrying development. To what extent can this outcry be suppressed and controlled? nobody knows!

3) Housing problem, poverty and land appropriation
During the time of this Government in power, most of the public lands have been embezzled by corrupt elite, led by the PM himself, leaving only 7% of Bahrain’s land for public. Whole islands have been confiscated by the PM and his cronies, and converted into private ownership. As a result, no area has been left for building houses for citizens. Furthermore, national funds have been allocated for reclamation of see, but had been misappropriated and invested in the open market, by members of the ruling family. Who else (but the PM himself) could have appropriated the old Manama sea port and converted it to a private “financial harbour”? Who else could have embezzled most of lands in main island and sea, while the trail of housing applications has reached 45,000, going back as to the nineties. There is now no place to build houses for Bahrainis but the PM can always find lands for mega million projects to pour in the pockets of specific members of the family. One wonders, who is locally known as Shaikh Bahar or “the sheikh of the sea”?
When there is no place to construct houses for people, then it is expected that other alternatives are to be thought of. This is not envisaged by the present Government, as indicated by the continued rise in the housing applications.

4) National revenues from oil, gas and others, who pockets them?
With the unemployment predicament (the Government recently opened recruitment offices in Qatar and UAE for Bahrainis), housing crisis, underpaid jobs, t a social security system will could have been established to reduce the gab between the inferior services offered by the present Government and public rising resentment. Oil revenues could be used to support such fund, but nobody knows where the difference between the market price of oil of around $70 and the $30; the Government declared value. Who else, other than this Government, knows where the difference, which makes billions of dollars, would go?

5) Bandargate
Browsing through the report of the Gulf Democracy Development Center, known locally by “Bandargate”, the Government would certainly appear guilty, with its deep involement in supporting, financing and managing the “sectarian sedative” web, led by Ahmad Attiyatallah Al-Khalifa, minister of cabinet affairs. This Government-led “Mafia” aims at introducing and fuelling sectarian sentiments among citizens and prepare the environment for another “Iraq” in Bahrain. The least the Government could do is to resign with immediate effect, and allow an international independent enquiry into the matter. It simply has lost the trust of the people.

Concluding remarks:

There are many issues that make the present Government unfit to remain in office. Some of its members have been mentioned, without further elaboration.

The current Government, led by Sh. Khalifa, has been run by single and only one mind. It has proved to be failure, infertile and ceased to provide genuine solutions for the citizens’ day-to-day concerns. It has been a major factor in the worsening situation by planning to create politically volatile and instable condition.

It is time that this government and its head depart the scene, and allows the people to choose their own government.