Report From Chatham House, Secret Meetings and Conclusions…

Wow! What a fascinating couple of days it’s been! I just had the pleasure of attending a half day conference in Chatham House in London. The subject of the conference was “Bahrain after the BICI report.”

I have to say I learnt a lot, and would like to thank my friend Jane Kinninmont from Chatham House for inviting me. I had initially declined the invitation, but Jane insisted and bribed me with free tickets and hotel accommodation. I’m glad she insisted, and I’m glad I attended. It provided a good forum to promote my message of reconciliation.

There was a small reception for speakers before the event, and I made sure to say hello to everyone. And I  made sure to take photos with some key opposition members, as well as with Dr. Abdulatif Al-Mahmood and some of his team.

I also found myself in the position of being an interpreter for Dr. Abdulatif in an impromptu meeting held between sessions. I like how he trusted me to attend the meeting and translate for him, I was caught completely off guard. Having spent some time with him, I ended up quite liking him, though I disagree with some of his views. The most important thing is that he has his heart in the right place, and I believe he passionately wants the best for Bahrain.

Most attendees knew who I was, and were happy to see me there. I was asked to relay an unusual message from a friend in Bahrain; he told me ” Suhail please pass on my regards to Maryam Al-Khawaja, I really admire her.” Okay… I’m not her biggest fan but I passed on the message nonetheless, and she said hello back.

Conference Highlights:

The conference consisted of three parts. The first was a panel consisting of Bahrain Ambassador Alice Samaan and BICI commissioner Sir Nigel Rodely, and chaired by Elizabeth Wilmshurst.

The second consisted of Sheikh Ali Salman and Dr. Abdulatif Al-Mahmood, chaired by Lord Williams of Baglan. The third session (which was meant to show the views of young Bahrainis) consisted of Mohammed Matar nephew of Matar Matar, Maryam Al-Khawaja, and yours truly.

Now, the event was held under the Chatham House rule, which means you can mention what was said, but not who said it. So I’ll give you some highlights and my impressions, without being too specific:
– There are good and bad things to take away from the event. On a positive note, it was healthy to have an open forum where things could be discussed openly without restrictions – and without fear. We desperately need such a forum in Bahrain. On a not-so-positive note, I got the impression that we are no closer to reconciliation after the BICI report than we were before. There is still a LOT of bad blood.
– Sadly, too much time was spent talking about the past, rather than focusing on the future. And the blame game was played there was well. The idea of letting bygones be bygones did not feature highly.
– The topic of HRH the Prime Minster came up several times, and that he should resign. This was countered by emphasising that the appointment of the Bahrain Prime Minister is done according to the Bahrain Constitution, and can be discussed and acted on through legal channels in the parliament.
– Sadly, a bit too much time was spent talking about religion, and the -real or imagined- Shia/Sunni divide. There was some concern expressed by some sunni attendees about the -alleged- Shia obsession  with Imam Al-Hussain, and how shias supposedly divide Muslims into good (those who supported Imam Hussain) and evil (those who did not support him and thus supported Yazid). He said that this obsession was a real obstacle to overcoming sectarianism. Some shia attendees were shaking their heads while this was being said.
– There was a lot of agreement between some of the points raised by the TGONU guys and Al-Wefaq, but it seems that there was a big difference in the perceived implementation. Also, there was a gulf of a difference in the crisis narrative.
– The issue of BTV was raised by several of the attendees, and there is a LOT of anger about how BTV behaved during the crisis.
– There were numbers, names and figure brought up of alleged continued human rights abuses after the BICI report was issued.
– I sat next to Sheikh Ali Salman during one of the sessions, and he had this zen-like energy about him. It was like he was in a meditative trance. He kept his cool throughout even when tempers flared around  him. He did, however, go over his time limit by quite a bit, causing the session, and subsequent sessions to be delayed.
– Some opposition members emphasised that they wanted the ruling family to stay, but they wanted a Western style constitutional monarchy.
– Overall, I expected the attendees – speakers and members of the audience – to be a bit more mature. There was a not insignificant number of interruptions and objections from the audience.  And a few grunts here and there when some points were being made. It’s obvious some people came to give the other side a piece of their mind. Like I said, reconciliation was not high on the agenda.

 

My presentation:

I think I was the only speaker to stick to the time limit. If you’ve been following me for a while, what I said at Chatham House would not be new to you. I spoke from a “moderate’s” perspective. I spoke about the different stages I went through during the crisis, with regards to my online activities. I emphasised that my current agenda is reconciliation, and that I thought it was pointless to obsess over the past.

I also emphasised my mottos “yes to the ruling family, no to corruption” and “evolution not revolution,”. I also mentioned that I accept the BICI report in its entirety. I also added my suggestions for reform, and that I dream of seeing a truth and reconciliation commission in Bahrain. I also emphasised that I do not endorse the horrific acts committed by some members of the government.

 

Things got slightly rowdy during our session, where several members of the audience highjacked the Q&A mic to make long-winded points. Some people got really passionate, a bit too passionate.

Someone asked me what I think would be the best way forward after the crisis, and I said “I think we need to lock five people together in a room; His Majesty the king, HRH the Crown Prince, Sheikh Isa Qassim, Sheikh Ali Salman and Dr. Abdulatif Al-Mahmood. And not let them out until a resolution has been found.” Some people agreed with me, while others vehemently disagreed. Someone asked me “but which of these will represent you Suhail??”  “All five of them,” I replied.

To be honest I did not feel nervous or intimidated, even though my other panellists were “anti-government” and some aggressive questions were thrown my way. I think though, that my presentation was quite well received with all but the most extreme of attendees. A lot of people thanked me afterwards and gave me their business cards. One guy gave me his card and asked me to get in touch, it was only later, when I had a closer look at the card, that I realised he was from Lulu TV. I did not contact him.

I left the conference with mixed emotions. On one hand I felt sad that there was still so much disagreement, the wounds are still raw, and the frustrations high. On the other hand, I felt a sense of optimism and hope. The fact that so many people managed to express themselves in a -mostly- civilised way was good. It’s something to build on. Either way, I will continue down my path, and hope it makes a difference some how.

Dinner with Sir John:

After the event I had the honour of being invited to dinner by former UK ambassador Sir John Shepherd. He took me to the 100+ year old Oxford and Cambridge Club. Sir John reminisced about his time in Bahrain as ambassador 20 years ago, and told me how fond he was of my late father and my mother. He also very generously gave me his advice when I asked him about his views on reconciliation. We had a wonderful dinner in the posh club, and I left feeling nostalgic, and very lucky to have the friendship of such a distinguished man.

Meeting King Hamad:

The next day I got a call from a member of His Majesty’s court telling me that the king, who was in London at the time, wanted to see me. I was delighted! I was asked to come to the hotel where he was staying. I was told that he was about to leave and that he wanted to see me on his way out. I waited in the lobby a few minutes and when he came down I greeted him.

The king thanked me for my efforts and my views, and said that moderation was the key to moving forward. “Moderation is the answer, and extremism here or there [pointing left and right with his hand] is counter productive.” I thanked His Majesty politely and told him that I learnt moderation from him. As usual, he asked about my mother as well.

Personally, I am delighted to get this kind of encouragement and endorsement directly from King Hamad. It reinforces my view (and that of Prof. Basyouni incidentally) that he is a moderate, and wants to see an end to the crisis.

Some people have  suggested that since king Hamad, Sheikh Ali Salman and Dr. Abdulatif Al-Mahmood are in London, that some sort of secret meeting took place between them.  I cannot claim to have any insider information, but I very much doubt such a meeting took place. It’s most likely just a coincidence.

Meeting Mr. X:

Later in the day I had a very unusual meeting, I actually met with a guy from the Feb 14th movement! I shall refer to this person as Mr. X. It seems Mr. X was keen to meet me, and share some of his views.   This was kindly arranged by a third party. Mr X attended the Chatham House event.

The first thing I said to Mr. X, when we sat at the cafe table,  was “who the hell are you guys?” He smiled, and we ended up having a two hour conversation. I’ll try to list some of the major points that we discussed, as best as I understood them:
– The Feb 14th movement is not a structured, unified movement. It’s a loose coalition of different Bahrainis in Bahrain and abroad. “We consist largely of intellectuals and academics,” he told me.
– When I asked him how many people were in the movement he did not give me a straight answer, I think no one really knows how many there are. They don’t all know each other, and they don’t all agree. They communicate via email & BBM mainly.
– As we have heard before, they do not have a leader, it really does seem to be a loose coalition.
– When I asked Mr. X about his views of Al-Wefaq, he did not have good things to say about them. He said that he considers himself a secularist, and did not like “Al-Wefaq’s religious agenda.” he criticised how, according to him, Al-Wefaq boycotted the 2002 elections saying the were haram [religiously illegal], and then said they were okay in 2006. Also,  he was no fan of Sheihk Isa Qassim, saying that in the past, whenever there were problems, he would “escape to Iran.” He had more positive things to say about Haq, and thought they were better than Al-Wefaq (with the exception of Hassan Mushaima calling for a republic, which he thought was “very stupid.”)
– The Feb 14th movement consists of a mixture of moderate and more extreme elements. Mr. X told me that he does not agree with everything that the movement did or encouraged, but he saw nothing wrong with things like the Manama traffic encirclement, as long as it did not cause direct harm to anyone. He did believe in putting strong pressure on the government, through any means possible, but did not agree with pouring oil on the street, because that could kill people.
– Mr. X told me that they never expected events to unfold the way they did, and that he and some friends, pre- Feb 14th,  were laughing when one of their colleagues suggested that 50,000 people would show up to a rally. They thought the number was ridiculously high.
– The topic of the 2002 constitution came up, and Mr. X was of the opinion (as I have heard many times) that the 2002 constitution was illegal and void, and that we need a new constitution. He gave me a mini history lesson of Bahrain, most of which I’d heard before.
– Mr. X was also critical of Dr. Al-Mahmood and the TGONU gang, citing some of Dr. Abdulatif’s stances in the 1990’s. I’m afraid I cannot remember all the details he mentioned.
– We also discussed the topic of the rule of law, and  Mr. X was of the opinion that laws that were, according to him,  unfair and one-sided do not need to be obeyed.
– We discussed the phenomenon of road blocks and tyre burnings in Bahrain, and he reiterated what Al-Wefaq told me, which is that these youths are acting on their own accord, and are not receiving instructions from anyone. He also said that Haq does not have that much influence among them.
– Concerning the BICI report, Mr. X was of the opinion that it came out the way it did “because of Sir Nigel’s involvement”, suggesting that Sir Nigel was the one who made sure it was as professional and detailed as it was.
– Mr. X also politely suggested that I should blog less, and read up more on Bahrain’s history. I reminded him that blog posts were opinion pieces, and that I never claimed to know the full truth. I also told him that I learnt a hell of a lot of Bahrain’s history in the last 10 months, and that I saw no point in dwelling on the past, and that I would rather focus on the future.
– Mr. X was not too optimistic of Bahrain’s future saying that “unless there is drastic change, things will only get worse.”

Mr. X and I left the cafe walking towards a tube station. We shook hands when we parted and I told him “I hope we can meet again in Bahrain under better circumstances.” “I hope so too,” he replied.

What next?

I had to smile to myself after our meeting, did I really just meet nearly the whole spectrum of Bahraini politics in the past 24 hours? Who knew being so outspoken (and opinionated) could lead to this?

As far as my reconciliation agenda is concerned, I’m as determined as ever to go down that path. It’s a long and difficult one, but it has to be done, for the love of Bahrain…

Thanks for taking the time to read this, talk to you soon.

30 Responses to Report From Chatham House, Secret Meetings and Conclusions…

  1. ghassan algosaibi 15 December 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    thanks for the update and keep up the good work
    all the best

  2. Dalal 15 December 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Seems like you had a great time on your trip to London. It’s nice to know that you got the chance to meet with many people who have different views and opinions. It’s so sad to know that people are still willing to disagree, while many others are trying their best to reconcile. I’m glad to know that you are focusing more on the future than on the past, but one thing; the fact is that we will never forget what we’ve been through. In my opinion, it is something not many loyal Bahraini citizen can forget.
    I’m sure it felt great to meet with King Hamad and to exchange thoughts, reading that part just gave me the chills for some weird reason.
    I really pushed my thoughts to try and figure out who Mr.X is. Some things he said really irritated me, as what they say and mean and do are always miiles apart! I envy you for meeting Maryam AlKhawaja, as there’s A LOT I have to say to this young women. 🙂
    Lastly, I’d like to thank you for taking your time to go and attend this meeting to show another viewpoint of Bahraini’s. I encourage you to continue the path you started with. And who knows, you might make a difference one day! I repeat, no matter how long and difficult this path is, or is going to be, we are all by your side for the love of Bahrain. God bless u!

  3. globeonmytable 15 December 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    I bribe my son to go to the dentist…needs must!

    How far have you read into the BICI report? I have got to page 293 of the English version, but am taking it slowly as it is a careful, sober read.

    For the coldest, snow days of winter I have bought a copy of No Future Without Forgiveness, by Desmond Tutu. I know I want to find out more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    People discuss the past because it matters and actually happened. Talking it through, acknowledging it and somehow getting past it is hard. There is a quote I am taking to heart about an issue from the past I am not yet able to talk about dispassionately. It goes:

    “Crisis forces us to make difficult but necessary decisions. It makes us ask, ‘Who am I and what really matters to me?’ It plunges us from the surface to the depths, where we discover strengths we didn’t know we had, and clarity of purpose we had hitherto lacked. So you have to say to every crisis ‘I will not let you go until you bless me.’
    ….
    “That is how to deal with crisis. Wrestle with it, refusing to let it go until it blesses you, until you emerge stronger, better or wiser than you were before.”

    The most powerful tool I have found is accurate but gentle speech. When I need to de-escalate things in my household, the way you do in real families, de-escalating my language and body language is the best method.

    I know this because the opposite is so true!

    Good wishes from the UK.

  4. B 15 December 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    Suhail, you’re God’s gift to Bahrain.

  5. Mahmood Al-Yousif 15 December 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    You’re making a difference. That’s what blogging has given me the opportunity to do too and am glad that you’ve discovered that too.

    The essence of the experience is this: can you imagine if we really did have the opportunity, each one of us in these islands, to freely speak our mind what better future we would actually have? That, to me, will be the real start of reconciliation which I resolutely am working toward too. I do hope that others sincerely hitch a ride on that wagon.

    Well done on CH and looking forward to more international engagements to expose you to different worlds and put you in the path of reconciliation.

    I think the next few presentations should most definitely be yours, incidentally! 😉

  6. angrybahraini 15 December 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    The King
    is head of a corrupt ruling family
    had his military arrest, injure and kill protestors
    had the Saudis invade our country
    betrayed us

    Full stop

  7. Suhail 16 December 2011 at 1:28 am #

    Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement. @globeonmytable, the quote pretty much describes what I went through. @ Bu Aref, thank you for introducing me to the wonderful world of blogging buddy.

    God willing more and more will join the reconciliation train, eventually making it unstoppable.

    Happy National Day and God bless Bahrain.

  8. Alaa 16 December 2011 at 6:53 am #

    Well done my friend, optimistic moderation is what Bahrain needs, enough with the finger pointing and blaming. It seems that we as Bahrainis are excellent at pointing out what is wrong as couch politicians or victims but do little to have the courage and emotional fortitude to say and do what needs to be done and move things forward. In the long story of nations, extremests and hardliners are remebered as a dark footnote, so you are roght we need the moderates to sit and talk to sort it out and shape our future….For your courage and true respect for all Bahrainins I salute you Suhail. Proud to call you my friend….

  9. Mohammed A. Al-Muharraqi 16 December 2011 at 7:56 am #

    Hi Suhail,

    Firstly I’d like to point out that I know Suhail well since high-school (Sheikh Abdul Aziz Secondary School; graduates of 1991 – best year in my opinion) so I’m allowed to have a go at him.

    Suhail, you know how much I respect you and how proud I am of your achievements. Also how delighted I am to have someone like you represent our beloved Bahrain although we do disagree on a few things – namely with the approach to the reconciliation you’re advocating. Yes, reconciliation is crucial for the future of this country and for the continuation of its plural fabric. But as I explained the last time we met, true reconciliation requires an appreciation of all wrongs and accountability, which not only targets government, but which addresses civil society as well. In short, the nation-building process must be re-launched on firm pillars.

    Let me give you a few examples…

    If reconciliation is predicated on admission of wrongs, then those members of the opposition (leaders, thinkers, physicians, so called moderates etc.) who refer to murdered Bahrainis who died during the unrest as ‘mannequins,’ must re-evaluate their stances. That patients’ of ours (the muezzin in the BDF hospital specifically) who are referred to as ‘make-believe stories’ should not be inhumanly discounted (this sad story was confirmed by the BICI: Chapter IV – Narrative of Events of February and March 2011 [482 Page 129] and also in Chapter VIII – Allegations of Violence by Non-Governmental Actors [1516 Page 370]).

    Similarly, it is also difficult to have a reconciliation mindset when over 35 Bahrainis, expatriates and bystanders have died in 10 months. Likewise, reconciliation is difficult when so many Bahrainis have been subjected to mistreatment/alleged torture by rogue elements in the governmental apparatus or have been wrongly detained/arrested by the same rogue elements, or fired/dismissed/suspended wrongly, or targeted in a superfluous ‘McCarthyism’ campaigns by people once considered ‘friends & colleagues’ – and also have these allegations dismissed by extremists on the ‘pro-government camp’.

    The BICI opened the door for accountability and this should be practiced by everyone. It is only human nature (in a polarised society like ours) to dismiss ‘the other side’ if that side continues to dismiss you in a vicious cycle. What we’re witnessing is a reactionary escalation (whether physical or verbal/emotional) which has to end. To break this vicious cycle, all parties must admit their faults and mistakes; sympathise/empathise with fellow Bahrainis; and listen with an open mind/heart and ‘talk’ (agree to disagree).

    In a previous blog of yours, you stated something I agreed with unequivocally which was ‘being a moderate doesn’t mean you don’t take sides’. Obviously although I consider myself a moderate, like yourself, I have also ‘taken a side’ according to common perception or misconception. And although I have never called for revolution, I do dissent and would never stand back and accept wrongs subjected on any fellow Bahraini.

    To that end Suhail, reconciliation will not come until all are held accountable (whatever their wrongs) and all parts of this rich and diverse society sit down, talk and stop dismissing each other.

    Sorry for the long reply…

    All the best,

    Mohammed

  10. s 16 December 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    Dear Suhail,

    I have to agree completely with Mohammed AlMuharraqi. You cannot say that “I also emphasised that I do not endorse the horrific acts committed by some members of the government.” while failing to mention the mistakes and horrific acts of the protestors and political parties! I believe that while trying to show that you are moderate and not taking any sides you are being completely unfair.

    My second point is, why do you consider the solution to be in the hands of Ali Salman? Why is he NOW a representative of the voice of the people when it was not Alwefaq or Ali Salman that called out for the protests in the first place? ALL the political societies are just trying to gain from the revolution for personal benefit. Even the Mr X that you met, did not have good things to say about Wefaq and Ali Salman and Mushaima. In my opinion NO ONE in Bahrain wants a political party with a religious agenda!

    So your suggestion of putting the 5 in a room and locking them up is useless as you are being driven into believing that they are the appropriate reps for the solution. You had meetings with so many interesting characters, you should know better that to make a statement like that. Since the political parties say themselves that they have no control over the protestors and their actions and therefore they are not responsible, then they are not the right people to talk to, cuz they dont represent the street or the people.

    Looking forward, I see no solution with Ali Salman, Wefaq, Haq and even TGONU in the picture. I think that any political party with a religious agenda needs to be dissolved and we need real political parties that have moderate and mixed religious beliefs if we are going to have the great ‘reconciliation’.

    Too much of bad feeling has been built up on both sides of the country. The sunni/shia divide is not something that can be erased with a new constitution. If this is the way you and others will look at it, then we will never reach a resolution. If we are to open a new page then all the excess baggage needs to be removed. Every political party that clung onto the protests to take advantage of it need to be dissolved. If they care about the good of the country, then let them do that and it will give everyone piece of mind and only then we can think of moving forward.

  11. Miss X 16 December 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    Suhail,

    I believe you are doing a wonderful job. I will start with congratulating you for having the open mindedness to accept that to err is human, and having the heart and love for Bahrain to make you see past holding grudges and seeking revenge.

    Unfortunately, I will have to move on to a not-so-pleasant note. Mr. Muharraqi your venomous self serving rhetoric in ur response as in various other mediums is nothing but a mere example of the ignorance holding this beautiful country from a moving forward. You should “diligently” work on learning a few things from your friend.

    Again, thank you Suhail. You have earned the accolades and respect that you are receiving.

  12. BA Passenger 16 December 2011 at 9:29 pm #

    Thank you Suhail for your efforts. We talked a bit before getting on the plane but because it was a night flight no one had the energy to talk politics and every body went to sleep and woke up on the worst turbulance. On your call for reconciliation, I must say that I respect and agree with your goal but I don’t agree with your timing approach. You need to know more about the Opposition and their mindset.
    For the past 10 years and till today, the King has been moving towards them and guess what,they have been moving away from him! Don’t be surprised if they look at your cause as a sign of weakness! For some unexplained reason they tend to misinterpret the good faith. For reconsiliation to be possible, there must be pre-requisites and sadly we do not see any signs of it. On the contrary, government shows willingness and they reciprocate with more escalation. As you know, it takes 2 to tango!
    Another complexity for reconciliation is to define the parties involved. Who are they? The Opposition is divided into many parties? How you deal with loose ones like Feb 14? How are you going to bridge the gap? etc…
    In my humble opinion, the recipe for reconciliation is to apply law and order at all time and no one is above the law, speed up the reforms, improve government efficiency, respect human rights, allow more people participation and move on with the economy. The ship must sail ahead with full speed and anyone not interested leave him behind. Lets not look back anymore.
    Allah Almighty, bless Bahrain.

  13. Jonathan 16 December 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    >>I thanked His Majesty politely and told him that I learnt moderation from him.

    Yeah, killing 50 civilians in cold blood, maiming thousands and firing 3000 is pretty moderate I guess compared to the dictatorships to our east and to our west.

    I am sure you have seen this from yesterday right: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_dIagZaG3O4

    See how moderate your king’s police officers are.

    Indeed very moderate, spot on Suhail.

  14. Mohamed 17 December 2011 at 12:33 am #

    With the way things are progressing on the ground, i do not think reconciliation is happening any soon, it looks like BICI report is just another report that people will talk about it with no real actions to fix the damage that has been documented in the report.

    The scary thing, i do not think the violations that the report has pointed out have been stopped. There was lots of blood shit just in the last two days, the usage of access power is still going on.
    So where are we heading? I really do not know !!!

    I would like to thank you for all of your efforts, i am in your side, i really respect you for what you are trying to achieved, it is going to be a very long rough journey. I am not sure what we could offer for some who lost his son’s life or cannot feed his kids because he lost his job.

  15. Mohammed A. Al-Muharraqi 17 December 2011 at 2:55 am #

    The respondents here show the dichotomy of this once homogenous society…

    Mr. Anonymous’s irate rant “incidentally” proved my point.

    My concerns stand unaddressed: should the nation, in the spirit of reconciliation, ignore the mistreatment/alleged torture, deaths in custody, medical ethical violations, racist violence etc. unabridged? We can let ‘bygones be bygones’ and make-up today, but how can one guarantee that such violations & crimes won’t occur in the future?

    To naively think that the key is a political solution/road-map is “ignorance and holding this beautiful country from a moving forward”.

    As I stated above, the nation-building process must be re-launched on firm socio-political pillars emphasizing macro-sociological cohesive systems while not ignoring micro-sociological symbolic interactionism or interpretivism.

    Enjoy the rest of the long weekend.

  16. JB 17 December 2011 at 10:53 am #

    One of the problems in moving forward is that people like Mohammed AlMuharraqi (while trying to sound reasonable) are not reasonable in equating the crimes of the government forces and the opposition or youth. The duty owed by a government is far higher than the duty owed by any other collection of people, and until this is acknowledged all the commissions and committees in the world will not succeed. Moving on needs to involve real accountability and consistency between intention and policies to create a sustainable environment for a long term solution.

    I like what you are doing Suhail and I appreciate your attempts to promote openmindedness. At the same time I have to agree with Mr X when he says read more about history of Bahrain – we all need to because then it becomes more obvious that this situation has been in the making for over 35 years. There are many people still in denial about this and its preventing us from genuine far reaching reform.

    The “evolution not revoltion” line is less persuasive when you realize that it HAS been a whole lifetime for some of us already. Cosmetic solutions wont work this time.

    Nation rebuilding needs to start with the basic equation of what it means to be a citizen and how the government holds its legitimacy and leadership in relation to its citizens.

    PS @Globeonmytable: where is that crisis quote from? Its great.

  17. Jonathan 17 December 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    Mohammed A. Al-Muharraqi, your use of big words to justify injustice simply makes you come across as a huge douchebag (we get it, you know how to use a thesaurus). Being objective may prove a more valuable approach.

    Let’s say the protestors did run over a Bahraini police officer (well, foreign, actually. I don’t think there are any Bahrainis at all in the police force), are we to say that that crime carries the same weight as a government’s killing of over 50 people, the last of whom died this morning and maiming thousands upon thousands? Have you seen how the police officers beat the living crap out of protestors? No? Do a search on YouTube then. Here is one to get you started. It is from yesterday https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dIagZaG3O4

    This “both sides need to calm down” mindset is bull-crap and any sane human being knows it. There is no “both sides”, there is an all powerful government that functions as a single unit with the king as its head, barbarically and systematically (as the BICI report stated) beating, arresting and murdering citizens, and then you have disparate, leaderless protestors who are practicing their god given right to demonstrate.

    The Egyptians dragged police officers throughout the streets of Cairo and burned their cars and tanks and yet they are viewed as the poster child of the Arab Spring.

    The Libyans murdered a man, yes he was a dictator, in cold blood and yet they too are raised as a poster child of the Arab Spring.

    The Syrian opposition that so many of our long bearded brothers in Bahrain are fans of have been putting bullets through the heads of tens of police officers every day, yet no one ever raises a finger and calls them murderers.

    Are you now trying to convince everyone that the armless protestors in Bahrain are more violent than those in Egypt, Libya and Syria because over the course of 10 months, they ran over one police officer!?

    The bottom line is this, and take it from me:

    It couldn’t be clearer who the victim is and who the oppressor is post February 14 in Bahrain. Taking a stand and being on the side of righteousness is tough and I don’t blame you for not wanting to give up your cushty life to do that. But for Christ’s sake stop trying to justify it through lame ass Oxford wannabe sounding diction.

  18. Ali 18 December 2011 at 3:23 am #

    Is it just me or people cant see suhail’s flip-flopping opinions since the get go of this mess? Love you dude but no one is self serving but you and our ever loving salivating gardener Mahmoud. Don’t get me wrong Its OK to change opinion but to go somersaulting 180 degrees this many times in 8 months shows one thing…posturing for a position. Especially since all suhails opinions are pure window dressing with no content what’s so ever….the rest of this thread is just pointless compliments or insulting blog trolls. Its interesting to see how Wefaq have grown to love you suhail and congratulate you…question is for what? Broken record of condemn the GoB and support the riots? with no plan at all and only repeating the word reconciliation? Repeating it wont make it happen without a plan dude!
    Oh and Jonathan do big words scare you? mohamed actually talks that way in real life and although I do think hes pompous hes the only one on this thread who makes some sense…ur insulting theme grows old on blogs dude…whats next attacking grammar and spelling? As far as I can tell Mohamed never said judge everyone the same he said put your hands up and admit mistakes but it takes a unknown douchebag like you to pick and choose what he wants…Thesaurus? Seriously?
    Anyways suhail you’re playing a dangerous game here I really suggest you research more rather than go with the flow.

  19. Scott Birch 18 December 2011 at 9:23 am #

    “Jonathan”, what makes you so sure the government is a single unit? Do you perceive human groupings this way? Is the opposition a single unit?

    I wonder who you really are. You use language that denies compromise and that’s usually a good thing in engineering and a bad thing in human affairs.

  20. Jonathan 18 December 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    Scott, fair point. You are right, I cannot be sure. But then the question becomes

    Is a king who has no control over his security forces and his ministers really fit for running a country? That kind of seems like the bare minimum skill required to get the gig doesn’t it? I don’t now…you tell me. And I’m not being facetious here, I would like to hear your thoughts.

    To address your second point, the opposition couldn’t be less homogenous. Maybe that is why they have not yet succeeded in achieving the inevitable.

  21. JB 18 December 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    Scott, you make a good point – it is clear that the gov is not a single unified group (and yes, neither is the opposition) The trouble is that all Bahrainis are paying for its infighting and rivalries. In a civilized country we could vote them out at the next election. Since you raise the question of multiple gov factions where do you see the solution?

  22. Suhail 18 December 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    Thanks again all for your input. A couple of points: 1) I wish we could make out points without resorting to personal insults, sarcasm etc. I think we are passed that point and have to work hard on bringing people together as much as we can. And waiting for the government or the opposition to admit and apologise will take too long. If anyone one wants to fester in their anger then so be it, I’m moving ahead.

    2) I respectfully ask you not use the blog as a Forum to criticise the king. If you have an urge to do so, there are plenty of websites where you can do this. Thank you.

    I want to re-emphasise what I said above, we need an forum in Bahrain similar to Chatham House where issues can be discussed in the open, as we still have very differing view points.

    Thanks for participating.

  23. Ahmed Sultan 19 December 2011 at 12:57 am #

    I agree & disagree with all of you but one thing is for sure, I hate it when politics is running the show cause whether a loyal or an opposition, the real driver is always Power & Money. I will blame the following for where Bahrain is today:
    1) Sunni People: you have been on silent mode for so long (not even vibration) that Govt. & Shiiats forgot you exist and no one thinks you are important enough to be part of the game (excessive loyalty- look where it got you).
    2) Shiiat People: I envy you and blame you cause you are always on loud mode and the leadership-followers mentality makes you do things even if you are not really convinced (excessive loyalty-unfortunately not to this government).
    3) Government: Bahrain was the first country in so many things in the GCC ( Oil, Education, Healthcare, Sports…etc), look at us today compared to other GCC countries.
    Do we really need advisors from UK or USA to tell us what’s wrong? Do we still need to spend too much money (unfortunately to outsiders again) to tell us what to do?
    Bahrainis are always loyal but if your people are hungry, they are easily manipulated and external forces with money can easily play with the minds to get their agendas accomplished.
    Look at what our youth are doing everyday on the streets, imagine if this energy was directed properly I think we would be walking on the moon.
    Goverment needs swift action and pump money (towards insiders for a change), fight corruption immediately and for Allah sake create an inviornment for the youth.
    The so called Humanright activists should really watch what’s going on in their countries before telling us what to do cause we know you are part of the politics game too so thanks but no thanks.
    Law is above all and if lots of the so called political societies say they can’t control the streets then don’t blame the law because we also use the roads and need to work for a living.
    My last word is to our father King Hamad, we believe in Allah then you and you really don’t need others to tell you what needs to be done to bring Bahrain back on track, you just go with your parenthood feeling and do things yourself and I am sure you will find us all behind you.

  24. Jonathan 19 December 2011 at 9:19 am #

    >>2) I respectfully ask you not use the blog as a Forum to criticise the king. If you have an urge to do so, there are plenty of websites where you can do this. Thank you.

    That is the fundamental issue isn’t it. We want the rule of law to be above all, and yet we make exceptions…based on family names and status. We come up with all kinds of laws that are intended to better society and then exempt some from them…again based on family names and status.

    The Prophet of Islam isn’t above criticism as the Quran says so why would a king be?

    Anyway it is your blog and so your rules. I’ll take the red pill and checkout and leave the blue pill for you guys to fight over.

  25. Mr.Saleh 19 December 2011 at 11:47 am #

    It is like dream,it will not be real because there are some people in power do not want Bahrain to be like a place for every one for one reason: They will loose so many things which they getting now and they should not get it…for instance: security companies owaners,police heads,guns suppliers and half politics people and some writers who write ribish and get paid for it.

  26. Miss X 19 December 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Suhail,

    Why do you believe it is unacceptable to criticize the king? Do u think that he is infallible?

  27. Suhail 20 December 2011 at 4:33 am #

    Miss X,

    There are tons of websites dedicated to attacking the government and the ruling family. If you have something negative to say go there please. Since this is my blog, I kindly ask you to respect my wishes, that’s all.
    Thank you.

  28. JB 20 December 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    A genuine question Suhail: how can you be a moderate if no criticism of the current system (which is extreme) is allowed?

  29. Scott Birch 20 December 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    My question was a philosophical one aimed at Jonathan, to learn more about his rather ‘monolithic’ or ‘pyramidal’ view of human systems.

    He didn’t really answer my second point at all. He adroitly avoided my discreetly-worded inquiry about what kind of person he is and used my first point to make a (spot-on) assessment about the opposition.

    JB, I was merely asking the question. International media has addressed the issue of divisions within the ruling apparatus. I know nothing about such things. My inquiry was more into “Jonathan’s” mindset, which fascinated me. It seemed to hint at a strong sense of identity not shared by others on this blog.

    Sorry Jonathan, I know it’s not my business, but I really do wonder who you are and if there are many who think in this uncompromising manner like you do. There’s something very “my way or the highway” about you, which I love in a friend, but find difficult in a co-worker 🙂 And to heal Bahrain, don’t you think you all need to be co-workers?

    Anyway, I’m outta here. I’m not taking any pills 🙂 All the best for you and your efforts, Suhail. I believe your heart is in the right place.

  30. Ahmed 21 December 2011 at 2:23 am #

    Let’s all be honest and frank here, considering things can be very clear with open frank discussions.

    The King, while he may have committed mistakes for keeping incompetent people in power, still is very much has moderate, reformist, and quite frankly controversial views on the way people live and accept one another, especially in this region. For him to accept ALL religions and view points (even people who went to prison for insulting the King, he said should be let go immediately, in other countries they would be banished at minimum), Ashoorah (only Arab country after Iraq) is celebrated so as Hanukkah (Foreign Minister dines with Jews annually on this festive occasion and doesn’t mind tweeting about it and taking pics). So, in the face of it, The King in fact is no where near any arab dictator, of which he is equally related to unfortunately in international media (Yeah, just like Gadhaffi shoots people and blasts them to bits, our King orders Apaches to shoot protesters, my a$$). He’s one hell of a moderate reformist and i am very thankful and proud that he is that way (quite honestly I wouldn’t want to live under any Arab leader, considering how open Bahrain’s King is and how close-minded others are). Sure, he has mistakes and he needs to clean it yesterday. If he doesn’t right now, the people through parliament will. It is just a matter of time. So by no means I would consider him ‘not fit for the role of King’ considering the huge positives he has done over the years.

    The fact that he brought in people from abroad and allowed the publication of what is known as the Bassiouni report, it speaks volumes of how humble and sincere the King is. I would LOVE if such a report was made for the opposition (to analyze the wrong-doings/facts of the opposition). I would LOVE if Ali Salman had nothing to hide and accepts any meeting with open arms. Sadly this is not the case as we all know. I am still and will for years to come bewildered and puzzled as to why Ali Salman did not accept countless times the meeting with the CP face-to-face and discuss everything openly. Quite honestly, this makes both Ali Salman and the CP unable as leaders to fix any political problem, God forbid we go through another Feb. 14 moment.

    I think we also need to make a distinction between loyalty and credibility. You can have loyalty but without credibility (like blinded loyalty to an authoritarian dictator). While Suhail considers himself loyal to the King, he is not by far blinded by loyalty and hence clearly identifies the wrong-doings of government and that he does not follow or agree upon at all, and hence tries to be more credible in his views. So loyalty does not mean automatic credibility and full acceptance of all things behind what you are loyal to.

    Unfortunately, I have no trust in the other hand with religious figures practicing politics. The notion that you have strong religious affiliations need to be an automatic disqualification of someone running for office. Over my dead body do i need Ali Salman (or even Al Mahmood) to tell me what is good for me in my own country, just because his religion says so. Sure, Bahrain is not country built an atheism but on Islamic values, but such values are practiced to the extent that other religions (as well as atheists) can also co-exist in this island, which the King clearly preaches in all his speeches and is also set in stone in Bahrain’s constitution. So people like Ali Salman and Isa Qassim sorry to say need to be preachers of their own religion and path and leave politics alone, and the same with Al Mahmood too (equally).

    Bahrain sadly (and I guess this is part of a historical situation in the middle east) does not have forward-thinking politicians. People that know how to run their respective districts. Our MP’s today are honestly not worthy of their post, and yes you may ask why we voted for them. The answer would be what the alternative if we didn’t vote for them?? Yes, we need a parliament. Yes we need a constitutional monarchy, but NO we do not need islamists or religious people representing government anymore. I am sick and tired of hearing the same old ‘STOP ALCOHOL’ crap. I am sick and tired to have vastly different rights of women and their children, based upon their sect. Sickening if you ask me. The King’s wife fought for equal treatment but Isa Qassim and the gang gathered to many against such concepts to kill the idea in parliament. One of the most disappointing moments in Bahrain’s political history quite honestly.

    Bahrain, further to the truth and reconciliation commission, needs better education in political affairs. MP seats need to be pre-qualified by people who have political degrees and have done some political functions in the past with great success. If we need to bring politicians from abroad to teach us then let it be. I can’t stand having our government sitting being incompetent especially now, after what we went through. The example of MP’s requesting higher benefits/salaries lately just explains further my views.

    I hope the King takes actions very soon and puts Bahrain back on its right path that he envisioned it to be.

    Let’s hope we have more moderate voices along the lines of Suhail, The King, Mahmood (Al-Yousif, the blogger) and let’s all stop this new resurgence of extremism that has appeared this year from BOTH sides. Let’s applaud honesty and truth and shun one-sided views or people hell-bent on pushing religious views down our throats.

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