19 January 2007

Bandar and the Man

Yes, Bandar Report, Part II has come out. God knows where this country is going.. I was just commenting on Dilmun's blog that I have hope in the Crown Prince as our honest, intelligent and visionary future leader. Well, CP, this is exactly when we need leaders like you.

For those not familiar with Mr Bandar here is my crash course: around September 2006, Salah AlBandar, a former Sudanese-British Advisor to the Bahraini government unleashed a scandalous report that releaved an alleged secret strategy by the government to rig the elections, marginalize the Shi'a population, skew the demographics of the country in favor of Sunnis, foster sectarian divide, and ensure Sunni primacy over a divided society. A newspaper called Al-Watan was established as the media-arm of the strategy. The alleged leader of the ring is Sh. Ahmed bin Ateyatallah Al-Khalifa Minister of Cabinet Affairs. The report included classified documents and copies of bribe-checks to journalists and parliamentarians.

Then the government, in order to truly investigate the claims and punish those responsible, fired and kicked Bandar out of Bahrain immediately. That Minister was re-appointed and newspapers were forbidden from mentioning Bandar's report. Best of all, the government sued Bandar for "stealing government documents!" As for Ateyatallah, he issued a statement defending himself by saying that the checks he wrote to all those journalists, parliamentarians, and officials were actually for "personal business." (very nice)

The plot revealed could not have been the making of a Minister alone. It clearly needs financial and political backing of a very strong power in country. Now as netural as I would like to be, the report is very difficult to dismiss, given the behavior of the government (e.g. demographic-altering naturalization etc). Initially, Bahrainis thought "the usual suspect" was behind it, and looked to the country's leadership for at least some sort of reaction, outrage, or probe into the issue. In November, a delegation of Shi'a Ulema lead by Essa Qassem was met with the assertion that he really didn't know anything about it and that we should continue to live in la la land because it's nicer.

As of now, Part II of the report is available to download at http://www.3radnet.com/ff/showthread.php?t=16518

Politically, Part II is even more alarming because it exposes (alleged) involvement by Sh. Khaled Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, Minister of the King's Court. This is significant since the Royal Court, representing the King, was viewed as a relatively trusted arbitrar. Now the picture can potentially be completely flipped. The report raises significant questions about the role of the Royal Court in undermining the opposition and Shia Ulema Council, illegal demographic engineering, and distributing roles on alleged accomplices such as Faisal Folath (Consultative Council appointed by the King) and Samira Rajab (notorious for her calls to close down Shia Matams over alleged "weapon" stocks somehow only she knew about).

With the passive [non] reaction by the leadership, it is becoming increasingly the conviction in Bahrain that the Royal establishment may be the driving force behind sectarian practices in Bahrain. More importantly, sectarian tensions within the country are at their peak and parliament just seems to be sound asleep. Mahmood Al-Yousif says that refusing sectarianism on the popular level is the answer. I agree totally. The "Just Bahraini" idea [http://justbahraini.org] is really powerful.

But please, to both government and parliament, you need to wake up too!! We are not Iraq and don't want to be. Someone stop those who "allegedly" are taking this country to its doom. Also, while you're at it, why don't you find some issues to treat (hint: you can start by unemployment, corruption, housing, education, privatization, ALBA, Gulf Air).


NewMe said...

رائع مقالك يالولو
لكن من يسمع
خائفة أفتح عيني في يوم
أجد ما يحصل في العراق
هنا في البحرين
هل يعقل أن يصبح الدين محرقة للقلوب
لتدم البحرين بحب
وكل من يحبها بصدق بحب

moonshallow said...

There we go again! Another eye opener ! Where are we headed. God save this country!
Coming soon - Part -3( Lets keep our fingers crossed)


error said...

Your crown price doesn’t to believe in democracy, or at least not for your present generation. nevertheless he’s young and has a vision.

Reducing the number of constituencies will help in eliminating negative electoral practices.

LuLu said...

newme: Thanks.. I guess our problem got worse w/parliament elections this year since all groups decided that religion & sect are the easiest way to rally people and get votes. The problem with this game is that it can easily spiral out of control.

moonshallow: Yes GOD save this country, and help save us from ourselves! To tell you the truth, I don't think Bandar will stop. He clearly has scores to settle.. for better or worse.

error: Well, this is how I see our problem as compared to Kuwait's problem-- your parliament is a bit too strong to maintain an efficient balance of power in Kuwait and this strenght is being abused by some. Our parliament is constitutionally structured to be too weak to do anything, no matter who is in it. They can make noise, but at the end, there is little check on the government's power in Bahrain-- the practices in the Bandar report would not be treated so casually by the government if we had a real "supervisory" power. The skewed constituencies of course just make matters worse, I agree. With 40 (yes 40) strategically-carved electoral districts, it was ensured that the parliament will be divided across sectarian lines and will pretty much agree on nothing.

error said...

so, whata gonna do about it?

Dilmun said...

Yes, the passive reaction is bad, very bad. I admit to the fact that there are two main extreme groups. One on each side, if they get their way Bahrain will turn into another Iraq. Leadership, is key here and we do need strong leadership in this country to get us out of this mess! Government needs a major shake up... and I mean Major...The Old Guard should be put on a late-retirement program.

LuLu said...

Dilmun it is scary how everyone is just pretending they don't see the elephant! even newspapers can't write about it.

Notes from behind the bike shed said...

Do you see the pink hefalumps too?

LuLu said...

Well notes I guess the point is: I can claim it's an elephant while the next person can claim it's a fictional heffalump in my own imagination.. but unless we start an open conversation about it, our two camps will just feed their own visions and inflate them to the point of no return.

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