October 01, 2005

royal chairs

They came, they swore -solemnly-, and they quickly left - to their new ministries. Two were appointed as Deputy PM – both are from the ruling family (FRF), two -FRF- for ministerial portfolios, and a head for the newly established Oil and Gas Authority -not FRF.

If you were watching, you will be forgiven if you noticed that the delivery of the solemn swearing was hurried and brisk. There was not a customary pause, nor any inflictive hint of serious, weighty avowal. It could be the endemic difficulty with classical Arabic, or the conflict of attending to a metaphysical lord when two are at hand. Duty, as a friend from the Subcontinent would have it, comes before God.

As cabinet reshuffles go, this was not an insignificant change around, rather a win-win move by the two rulers of the land. HH the PM got his son promoted to be his deputy, a further bid to ensure his succession, while HM's Royal Court got the appointment of those it favoured. Thus, a son of Atteyatallah –not to be confused with an Ayatollah- became Minister for Cabinet Affairs –not to be confused with the minister of the PM Court- giving the royal court another leverage tool on the cabinet agenda, especially that a second son of Atteyatallah became few months earlier Minister for Royal Court Affairs –not to be confused with the Minister of the Royal Court. The sons of Atteyatallah are not considered as first tier members of the ruling family, but -as with the case in outer circle FRFs- are studious people with degrees. So proponents of opening doors for the qualified but disenfranchised can find comfort here.

The re-shuffle was a further confirmation that the re-form project is alive and ongoing. The two new ministers are young generation FRFs who studied overseas and had a brush with modernity. You may be heartened to know that the new Foreign Minister had worked as a volunteer on Jimmy Carter’s election campaign. We can not only rival Qatar in terms of diplomatic heft, but also win by points for a fresh proactive approach. Also, the new Minister for Cabinet Affairs began his career as a system programmer. Some sectarian souls may gloss over this remarkable feat, by pointing to the fact that organization responsible for Statistics and Census which he was heading was virtually Shia-free, but that’s moot point in data-sensitive missions. One may take heart that an efficient decision making will be gradually programmed and instilled into the working of the new and improved cabinet.

Last and not least, but least discussed for sure, is the replacement of the crucial Minister for National Security – an FRF, and a third son of Atteyatallah- by another new FRF. The outgoing minister joins the Court of the PM as Advisor for Security Affairs, accompanying former ministers who serve HH as Advisors for Legal Affairs, Cultural Affairs, and Economic Affairs, to name few. The incoming replacement has the added advantage of not having a first-hand experience with former residents of detention chambers in bygone years.

All in all, this was an event brimming with total confidence, for all to behold. If some had the slightest impression of a government on the defensive, they are sourly disappointed. FRFs now occupy half the seats of the cabinet plus one, and confidently and not the least diffidently so. An opposition which came to the brink over the Societies Law, will soon brace itself for a crisper, sharper anti-terror bill in few weeks time. So by the time all go to elect the electable half of the Assembly in 2006, the re-form project would have unfold in a firm and clearer form.

Or in the words of a famous western politician when asked what he will be doing with the exceptional powers he obtained, he shrugged: ” Just watch me!”.


At 6:41 PM, Anonymous Mahmood Al-Yousif said...


At 11:14 PM, Blogger MR said...

Thanks Mahmood for a gracious, supportive feedback.

At 12:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi MR,

Would be great if u put an email address somewhere in ur profile. Your opinion is invaluable and ur blog outstanding.

keep it up.

At 6:33 AM, Blogger The Joker said...

MR, your article is very good. But I have to admit.. you lost me there.. we have more royals appointed and re-shuffled... in fact the re-appointments went unnoticed by most people since most people feel apathy.... how is the re-form project going to be clearer and firmer? In fact.. whats going on around here?

At 7:58 AM, Blogger MR said...

Anonymous, comment appreciated.
The Joker, your last line sums it all" " whats going on around here?". My clues are as good as yours.

At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terrorising peaceful opposition in Bahrain

Execution to members of non-conformist associations

The latest "legalised" tool of terror against the people of Bahrain is the proposed "Law of Terror", which has exposed the extent to which the Al Khalifa hereditary dictatorship would go in order to silence legal opposition. Once this outrageous act is rubber-stamped by Sheikh Hamad's councils, it will make it a crime to express unfavourable opinion on almost anything related to his repressive political programme. It is tailor-made to appease the United States and Britain, but at the same time exact a price from the people of Bahrain. It outlaws any association outside the boundaries of the Al Khalifa constitution. Moreover, it calls for the death penalty to anyone who aims to change the repressive constitution. "Punishment by death to anyone who forms, establishes, organises or manages, contrary to the rules of law, a society, association, organisation, group or a gang, or a branch to one of these, or becomes a leader in it, that aims to call, in any means, for the freezing of the rules of the constitution or the laws, or prevent one of the state's bodies or one of authorities from carrying out its duties".. Anyone who becomes a member of these societies, associations, organisations, groups or gangs, or any of its branches or participate in its activities in any form, knowing its terrorist aims is liable for the life imprisonment.

The law clearly equates peaceful opposition to the Al Khalifa rule to terrorism and punishes people with death or life imprisonment. Sheikh Hamad has thus embarked on a bloody road to fulfil his aims, and is in no mood to compromise on that. While this is not new to the Al Khalifa hereditary dictatorship, the audacious nature of the regime to stipulate death and life imprisonment to people for exercising their right for peaceful association is a dangerous precedence that the world community must not ignore. The law has several other articles that have deep contradictions. Article 8 which deals with military training and expertise in explosive materials calls for less dramatic punishment, ranging from ten years to life imprisonment. While Article 9 calls for "life imprisonment to anyone who manages an organisation, an association, an establishment or a special commission that has been formed in accordance with the law, but exploits his management position in to call for committing any of the crimes stipulated in this law. The crimes here refer to peaceful opposition to the Al Khalifa constitution and laws.

Possessing unwanted literature is also a serious crime in the "Al Khalifa democracy". Article 12 calls for five years imprisonment to anyone possessing a leaflet aimed for others that is against the state policies.

The Al Khalifas are thus in breach of the most basic of human rights, and in clear breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They are exploiting the current anti-terror feelings to widen the concept of terrorism to include opposition to their dictatorship. This is a crime worse than those committed during the black era of the prime minister. Legalising repression at this scale is an affront to human dignity and values. It is thus incumbent on the world community to intervene against this dictatorship and look beyond the vale of the government propaganda machine. It is time that this dictatorship is brought to account for its deception, corruption and legalised totalitarianism.

At 7:24 PM, Blogger Abdulhadi Khalaf said...

It is simply brilliant commentary.
Four week later, it is still fresh and razor-sharp.

Thanks for a nice Eid gift ;)


At 6:43 AM, Blogger MR said...

AbuRasool, your passing by is the real nice Eid gift here. Thanks.


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