ISSN 2330-717X

Stalemate In Talks In Bahrain – OpEd


By Mohyeddin Sajedi

The Bahraini Al Wefaq party has said it would no longer take part in, what is referred to in the country, as the national dialog.

The party has asserted that the opposition does not have enough representatives at the talks and that the negotiations do not follow up on issues seriously.

The talks, which discuss political, economic, social and legal matters, constitute the latest initiative undertaken by the Bahraini king to defuse the crisis in the country. Following the early sessions, Al Wefaq said it would not attend the economic and legal committees as the crisis revolves around security and political issues.


Popular uprisings and successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and their triggering movements in the countries near and far have foretold a new era in the history of both the world nations and the regional governments.

Beforehand, the Arab world was run by dictatorial governments, whose countries had just been freed from the yoke of colonialism. They themselves, however, gradually turned into a new instrument for the enforcement of neocolonialism, which had divided the world into the two sections of Western and Eastern.

The governments which were in favor of the Eastern Bloc would not strive for democracy. The pro-Western Bloc ones came under two categories: Those whose people were not after democracy either and those which had to wear a guise of democracy to satisfy the West. The latter states would feign democracy lest their Western allies be accused of backing dictatorial regimes.

The description, however, did not hold true for all the Arab states. Some countries continue to dictate to date, namely Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Barack Obama, however, keeps their names out of his speeches on the Middle East.

Should this fit the bill as an accurate description, the West-allied countries or those countries inclined towards the West tended to abuse the means of democracy to cement the position of the ruler. Any questionable regime was usually towing the attribution “democratic.” Most of these countries, save some backward ones like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, had parliaments and elections of their own with the people partaking in the polls either forcibly or voluntarily to vote for those predetermined by the ruling structure.

For instance, although the Egyptian elections would invariably lead to the victory of the ruling party, Cairo would not spare any illegal efforts to drive the opposition out of the way and would use club-wielding forces to ensure its desired results.

One of the indicators of democratic election is that the results are not clear in advance. Even though the polls might suggest the triumph of a particular candidate, everyone will hold their breath until the announcement of the final results. There’s also the possibility that one candidate might be ahead of others by such an unassailable lead that everyone would see him as the winner, but such cases are exceptions rather than the rule and seldom occur.

Bahrain is one such government which is at pains to sustain the status quo and manipulate the developments so that its ruling elite would be stripped of none of its powers.

When the current Emir of Bahrain declared himself king a few years ago, he uttered the slogan “Bahrain first.” What he meant by this was that Bahrain would overtake others in bestowing liberty upon its people and in the ruling powers of the community. The same slogan was uttered by his Jordanian counterpart, but there was no competition between the two. The main objective was proximity to the Bush administration who wanted to bring democracy to the Middle East on war tanks.

Such regimes held multitude elections to please the West, but only such that they would not lose grip of their rule. In Bahrain, for example, with a half-million native population, the Parliament has 40 representatives who are chosen by the people. The King appoints the members of another assembly of the same size. A law is only made official through the approval of these 80 members. So even if the opposition manages to gain 20 seats or even half of the current parliament, it is still in the minority to the 60 members appointed by the government.

The Bahrain crisis has led to the “national dialogue” after the failure of the military interventions of the Saudis, UAE and even Kuwait. But the aged King and Prime Minister have not dropped their former habits and only 30, out of the 300 invitees, belong to the opposition party and even they are not allowed more than 5 minutes speaking time.

Whereas Al Wefaq claims that it represents 64 percent of the nation and that it boasts the support of the majority of the Bahraini society, it is in minority in the national dialogue council. This has compelled it to pull out of the talks with the government. And the demonstrations continue unabated. Holding a national dialogue in such a manner is the egregious mistake of the Bahrain regime, because its failure would leave Bahrain vulnerable to possibilities other than dialogue.

Al Wefaq is a party that seeks the reformation of the political system in the country and has placed as its objective the institution of a constitutional kingdom. But gradually one can hear more slogans chanted by the people demanding change and the establishment of a republic.

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