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!”.