As far as I’m concerned, this is the best news I’ve heard since the publishing of the BICI report; HRH the Crown Prince, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, has met Bahrain’s opposition this morning, led by Al-Wefaq Secretary General Sh. Ali Salman.
We have been in a deadlock since 2011, and it’s so good to see this meeting happen. To paraphrase Churchill, this meeting is not the end of our crisis, nor is it the beginning of the end, but God-willing it is the end of the beginning.
For sure there is a lot that needs to be done. For one, there needs to be a genuine political will from the government to end the crisis. Also, there needs to be a willingness from the opposition to be less demanding and less righteous.
Once the genuine will is there from both sides, then slowly and gradually, trust can be built. It will take a long time, but I think it can happen. Incidentally, trust has nothing to do with liking the other party. You can trust someone yet dislike him or her. Of course the opposite is also true. Personally I know a few people whom I like, but I know very well that they are not to be trusted.
And as trust is being established, a genuine compromise has to be reached. Both sides will not be delighted, but the overall good of the nation has to be taken into consideration. Is a fully fledged, Western-style democracy achievable today? No. Can things remain as they always have? No.
The devil of course is in the detail. I suspect it will take many months, if not years, to find a suitable compromise. That’s assuming genuine dialogue takes place, which no one even mentioned in today’s meeting. There’s an assumption of good things to come, but no one has made any promises it seems. But I remain cautiously optimistic.
I’d like to end by saying thank you Your Royal Highness, and thank you opposition leaders. God save Bahrain!