September 2001

By Rawhi Abeidoh (27 September 2001)

DUBAI (Reuters) – After a strong early show of support for their U.S. ally, Gulf Arabs are growing worried they could be sucked into a battle pitting the West against Islam. Washington has threatened unspecified military retribution if Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban does not hand over Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, accused by the United States of masterminding the Sept. 11 suicide-hijack attacks that left up to 7,000 dead or missing. Keen to avoid angering Arabs and Muslims, Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, said this week it could not be directly involved in any “carpet-bombing” of the fellow Muslim state. Neighboring Yemen also sounded a note of caution. “We don’t want a conflict between civilizations or religions. We seek peaceful coexistence and exchange of interests,” President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Wednesday. The United Arab Emirates defense minister urged Washington to think carefully before attacking Afghanistan, saying the strike could trigger a “human catastrophe affecting millions.” “I call on the United States to pause for reflection and give a chance to diplomacy and all legal means before it resorts to military action, which could have grave repercussions on world peace and security,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum told Reuters. Diplomats and analysts say an attack on Afghanistan might provoke reprisals on American interests by angry radical Islamists. The scope of such a reaction hinges on how far Washington presses its military campaign, they say. BUSH TOLD TO USE CAUTION Gulf officials said President Bush was getting the same message of caution from many moderate Arab allies who rallied behind his father during the 1991 Gulf War to end Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait. “If our bases are used to attack the Afghans, then definitely Saudi Arabia will be put in a difficult position because of the Islamic connection and because of the possibility of thousands of innocent victims,” said the oil-rich kingdom’s ambassador to London, Ghazi al-Gosaibi. Washington has military facilities in most Gulf Arab states, including Bahrain, headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Many of them have been established since the Iraqi invasion. But the conservative governments have denied reports their bases might be used to launch attacks on Afghanistan, whose Taliban rulers have given bin Laden refuge. So far, only Kuwait, has been outspoken in its support. Gulf officials say their countries are ready to provide intelligence on Muslim extremist groups, tighten curbs on the flow of funds that could be used to finance them, and supply logistical support such as fuel and food. Analysts said Bush had alienated many Arabs and Muslims by using the word “crusade,” evoking the Christian campaigns in the 11th to 13th centuries to seize holy sites in the Middle East. U.S. officials replaced “Infinite Justice” with “Enduring Freedom” as the name of its military buildup after many Muslims objected that only God could dispense infinite justice. “I am sure President Bush has no bad intentions, but the damage has already been done. He is alienating so many people here in the region,” a Saudi analyst said. “Such words make it more difficult for leaders in Saudi Arabia, or anywhere else in the region, to go wholeheartedly behind America,” he added. Many Gulf Arab leaders have complained to Bush about what they felt were Western attempts to link Islam with terror. The Saudi-owned pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat said on Thursday there had been 625 reported attacks on Arabs and Muslims in the United States since Sept. 11. Gulf leaders urged Washington to press Israel to end what they see as its “terrorism” against Palestinians. “Arabs complain of the Zionist (Israeli) oppression, the occupation of their lands, the killing of their children and innocent Palestinians while the world is watching without stopping this recklessness by the tyrant Zionism which represents terrorism in its ugliest form,” said Sheikh Rashid.


25 September 2001Interview with Sweden-based Muslim thinker Dr. S. Parvez Manzoor on the recent terrorist attacks in the USA Interviewed by: Dr. Mansoor Al-Jamri Question: In view of the terrorist attacks and possible US reactions, how to you view the impact of such events of the pro-democratic Islamist movement?Answer: In my view, the recent events, and their much dreaded aftermath, will make all such efforts extremely difficult. The establishment of democratic regimes and demands for a more open political culture, a culture of debate and consensus-building, will not, in the short term, strike the right chord with the general public. Civil liberties will be deemed, perhaps in the West as well, as dispensable luxuries rather than indispensable staples. Much depends of course on how the American retaliation unfolds and plays itself out. If it is brutal, overbearing and totally out of proportion with the crimes committed against her, if its is colossal, collective and indiscriminate, it is bound to brutalise Muslim societies as well. Question: Radical Islam, Fundamentalists, and other terms are being flagged up by the media all over the world. Do you see this a victory for those who said Islam and the West were bound to clash? Answer: If these acts of terror indeed have been perpetrated by Muslim radicals or fundamentalists, they have reaped nothing but eternal damnation, shame and ignominy. For nothing, absolutely nothing, could remotely be advanced as an excuse for these barbaric acts. They represent a total negation of Islamic values, an utter disregard of our fiqhi tradition, and a slap in the face of the Ummah. They are in total contrast to what Islamic reason, compassion and faith stand for. Even from the more mundane criteria of common good, the maslaha of the jurists, these acts are treasonous and suicidal. Islamic faith has been so callously and casually sacrificed at the altar of politics, a home-grown politics of parochial causes, primeval passions, self-endorsing piety and messianic terror. Let’s hope and pray that it is not the beginning of a ‘clash of civilisations’, for only the enemies of humanity – and Islam – will have to gain from such a development. The West is as much under trial as the Muslim world, for she will now be tested. For the sake of whole humanity, let’s hope that she can live up to the values that she has been preaching so far. Active Muslim struggle, together with the like-minded forces in the West, for a humane world-order and sane politics is therefore of utmost necessity.Question: For a country going through a democratisation process, like Bahrain, do you think the recent events would help or hinder political reforms in the Muslim World?Answer: Even if the prospects seem, in the short term at least, quite bleak, the struggle must go on. The hawks of the Western world, everybody knows, are not loath to making an unholy alliance with the tyrants of our world. Nonetheless, one must expect, even if it be unrealistic, that common interests will prevail over sectarian passions. To find a middle ground that avoids the extremes of crass cynicism and unrealisable idealism, a politics of hikma and firasa, must be pursued. The challenge is to translate Islamic ethics and values into a pragmatic vision of politics. Unfortunately, this is something that, our recent experience shows, is easier said than done. Let’s hope that this tragedy, and – God forbid – the greater ones to follow, teach us to act justly and wisely. Let’s find an inspiration in our faith that is for the making of a better future for all of us. 

24 September 2001Analysis: U.S. Military Buildup Gets Frosty Reception By Mariam Isa JEDDAH (Reuters) – Ten years ago, Gulf Arabs broadly welcomed the arrival of U.S. troops on their soil to help drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. Today, U.S. forces are getting a frosty reception in the region, with most people alarmed at the prospect of military retaliation against Muslim Afghanistan for the devastating September 11 attacks on the United States. Many Saudis say they would oppose their government’s support for U.S. attacks on Afghanistan, whose hard-line Taliban rulers are shielding its main suspect, Saudi-born Osama bin Laden. “We cannot help America to kill Muslims in Afghanistan — this would make people upset and angry,” Saudi insurance manager Essam Haddad, 28, told Reuters. “We respect America and its people but not orders from them — this is something we cannot follow.” Kuwait is the only member in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which has whole-heartedly welcomed the biggest U.S. military buildup in the region since the 1991 Gulf War. Its people still feel vulnerable to an Iraqi attack and the Kuwaiti government is prepared to give Washington all the help it can to avenge the suicide-hijack attacks on U.S. landmarks which killed nearly 7,000 people. Elsewhere, it’s a different story. GCC foreign ministers made that clear after an urgent meeting Sunday, pledging support only for international attempts to “bring to justice” the perpetrators of the attacks. They also condemned any attempt to link Islam with what they described as “these heinous terrorist acts.” Reflecting local concerns, Saudi Arabia is reported to have refused a U.S. request to use a new command center at a military base near Riyadh, a move which could delay air strikes by weeks. Bahrain was quick to deny reports that U.S. military aircraft had begun to arrive on the island, saying Saturday that the matter “was still under study.” Excluding Kuwait, no Gulf government has said exactly what sort of support it will provide to the Americans, and GCC ministers avoided the subject after their talks Sunday. MANY SKEPTICAL OF BIN LADEN’S ROLE One problem is that many Gulf Arabs are skeptical that bin Laden, still often viewed as a hero for helping to end Soviet rule in Afghanistan, was really responsible for the attacks. “The lack of information we have about Osama Bin Laden makes it difficult to judge him,” said Saudi mechanical engineer Osama Saleh, 30. “Without knowing the evidence, I don’t think he did it. I don’t think our governments should give support for attacks on Afghanistan and I don’t think they will. People would be very angry,” he said. Bin Laden was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994 for his activities against the royal family. He has remained in exile since, mainly in Sudan and Afghanistan. In rare interviews, he has accused the United States of desecrating the birthplace of Islam with its military presence in the kingdom and blames the sufferings of Palestinians on U.S. support for Israel. Opposition to U.S. support for the Jewish state is shared by most Arabs in the region, and is cited as the main reason why resentment against Americans has soared since the Gulf War. “There is more suspicion of the Americans now,” Kuwaiti academic Khaldoun al-Naqeeb told Reuters. “People are suspicious of the American presence because they feel U.S. support of Israel is not even-handed.” More than 700 people, mostly Palestinians, have been killed in a year-old Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation which erupted during an impasse in Middle East peace talks. NON-MUSLIMS CAUSE OFFENCE Many conservative Muslims are offended by the presence in Gulf states of Westerners with a reputation for permissive behavior frowned upon by Islam — such as wearing revealing clothing, drinking alcohol and mixing with the opposite sex. There was an Islamic backlash in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War, and the government is keen to avoid a repeat of this. Although much more liberal, Bahrain has similar problems. “The big fear is now that the Americans will come back and control everything — they have the excuse to do so,” said one Bahraini, Ahmed Nasser, 32. U.S. military forces have remained in the region since the Gulf War against Iraq after signing defense pacts with local governments, but have kept a low profile. The military buildup so far has been largely invisible to ordinary people, taking place either outside the region or on aircraft carriers at sea. A local radio station for U.S. forces in the region has urged them to be even more discreet, and to watch out for suspicious signs which could point to “terrorist acts.” —————————————23 September 2001Bahrain OKs Texaco, Petronas Bids MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahrain’s government said Sunday it had accepted the offers from U.S. oil company Texaco Inc. and Malaysia’s Petronas for offshore oil and gas exploration and production, the official Gulf News Agency reported. The announcement came after a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheik Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who is also the chairman of the Supreme Oil Council, the agency reported. It said the accepted bids had been the best offers, but gave no further details. The government said in March that it was inviting tenders from international oil companies to bid for three new exploration sites. The move follows a ruling by the International Court of Justice in March, which resolved a 62-year-old maritime border dispute with Qatar. 

Bahrain produces about 37,000 barrels a day of crude oil and receives an additional 140,000 barrels a day from the offshore Abu Safa field it shares with Saudi Arabia. 

23 September 2001 Saudis: U.S. Can’t Use Air Base By TAREK AL-ISSAWI Associated Press Writer DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Saudi base Washington chose as its command and control center for the U.S. anti-terrorism offensive has been declared off limits for retaliatory flights, a Saudi official said Sunday. The statement comes as Saudi Arabia is seeking assurances the base would not be used to strike at fellow Arab states as America readies to retaliate for the Sept. 11 attacks that toppled New York’s World Trade Center and heavily damaged the Pentagon. The Saudi official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the kingdom would not allow the United States to use the Prince Sultan Air Base, south of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for U.S. retaliatory attacks. However, the U.S. State Department called the Saudi military cooperation with Washington “excellent.” Last week, the commander of the U.S. Central Command’s air operations, Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Wald, shifted his operations from South Carolina to the base, and the two sides were still negotiating over what the Saudi role would be in the campaign. Diplomatic sources said the Saudis want to know in advance if the U.S. retaliation will be aimed at some Arab states long accused of terrorism, such as Sudan and Iraq. On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said on ABC’s “This Week” that “they (Saudis) have responded to all the requests we have asked them to respond to, and I’m sure there’ll be more requests coming in the future.” Powell said that Washington was “working through with the Saudis on a very, very satisfactory basis.” However, the Saudi official said from Riyadh his country “will not accept any infringement on its national sovereignty, but it fully backs action aimed at eradicating terrorism and its causes.” On Thursday, a Saudi Foreign Ministry official said the kingdom, a key U.S. ally in the region, would “not agree, under any conditions, to strikes against brotherly states, like Syria, or groups that resist the Israeli occupation, like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.” All of those groups are on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations. Gulf foreign ministers holding an extraordinary meeting in the Saudi Red Sea port of Jiddah on Sunday also expressed a similar concern. “Member states confirm today that they are willing to participate in any operation within a joint framework with specific targets and an internationally backed coalition to fight terrorism,” a statement from the meeting said. Washington blames a pan-Arab network of Islamic militants led by exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden for the attacks on New York and Washington that left more than 6,000 people missing or dead. Officials indicate a strike on Afghanistan, where bin Laden has found a haven, could come at any time. The Prince Sultan Air Base, a vast compound in a remote stretch of desert 50 miles south of Riyadh, hosts 4,500 U.S. military personnel and an undisclosed number of warplanes. The location of the base gives it the necessary security and privacy that Washington needs to direct strikes against suspected terrorists. In addition, it would be ideal for heavy aircraft, such as B-52 bombers, which cannot be launched from aircraft carriers. It already accommodates F-15 and F-16 fighter jets engaged in daily patrols of a “no-fly” zone over southern Iraq. If Washington and Riyadh fail to reach an agreement, the United States can turn to Bahrain, where the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet is based, or two Kuwaiti air bases that have been used by U.S. aircraft since the 1991 Gulf War. On Sunday, Yemen said it will allow U.S. warships to refuel in the southern port of Aden, the site of last year’s attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 U.S. sailors. A Yemeni Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the joint Yemeni-American security improvements at the port in the months since the attack make it safe for U.S. ships. A diplomat in Riyadh, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Saudis — concerned with Arab public reaction if the United States also targets Arab states — were pushing to have some influence over the targets of American retaliation in their negotiations with U.S. officials. Another diplomat, who also refused to be identified, said that during Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal’s recent visit to Washington, he informed the Americans that the ideal way to eradicate terrorism was to force Israel to cease attacks against the Palestinians and implement the peace accords. 

The diplomat also said al-Faisal called on Washington to stop arming Israel. 

22 September 2001Bahrain Base Active, No Clues to Deployment By Douglas Hamilton MANAMA (Reuters) – Bahrain, home to a key U.S. military base, was busy with U.S. and British air force flights on Saturday but with no sign of a major combat build-up, despite a report that Saudi Arabia was resisting a U.S. plea to use one of its main bases. Unarmed air force planes from the two Western allies were landing and taking off at Bahrain’s main airport, but there was no sign of U.S. combat aircraft or information linking these movements to plans for military action, possibly against Afghanistan. The Washington Post quoted U.S. defense officials as saying the Saudis were refusing to let the United States use the kingdom’s new combined air operations command center at Prince Sultan Air Base near Riyadh, forcing the Pentagon to consider a move to an alternative base in the region. Outside of Saudi Arabia, the Juffair naval base in the Bahraini capital Manama which supports the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet is one of the most important U.S. military installations in the Gulf, along with the Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait. At the naval base in the bay there were no signs of new arrivals or departures from the dockside. A U.S. Navy spokesman at Juffair in Bahrain had no comment on the Post report, and no new information on the movement of U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups in the Gulf and the Arabian Sea or aircraft reinforcements ordered to the area this week. Bahrain also had no official word on whether the United States was seeking additional military facilities. President Bush has ordered the military build-up as he mulls retaliation for last week’s attacks on New York and Washington which killed at least some 6,800 people. The Post said neighboring Saudi Arabia had told Washington not to use the Prince Sultan base for any assault on camps in Afghanistan run by Osama bin Laden, who Washington suspects was behind the suicide attacks. Using the base to attack Saudi-born bin Laden could enrage Saudis, some of whom are believed to sympathize with his campaign against the continuing U.S. military presence in their country, the birthplace of Islam. A senior Western diplomat familiar with the Gulf said it may be difficult for the U.S. Air Force to run an assault campaign from the Prince Sultan base because it is not very far from Riyadh, a capital of some three to four million people. “If you’re in a remote area it might be okay but if the base is so close to Riyadh it could be very destabilizing for them,” he said. The base is roughly 45 miles from the city. The U.S. military also has facilities linked to the Prince Sultan operation at Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates and Seeb in the Sultanate of Oman, according to military Web sites. It is unclear if they could be usefully employed in any strikes without the involvement of the Saudi base. British military forces, including troops and warships, are currently assembling in Oman for a major exercise planned long before last week’s attacks on New York and Washington. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its battle group of missile cruisers and destroyers were last reported somewhere at sea in the Gulf. The Enterprise group was reported in the Arabian Sea off Pakistan, Afghanistan’s southern neighbor. 

21 September 2001: “Voice of Bahrain” interview with Dr. Abdulhadi Khalaf, Bahraini sociologist and political activist.VOB: How do you view the impact of US preparations following of the terrorist attack on WTC on our own region?Khalaf: The dramatic chain of events during the period since the terrorist attack on WTC has consolidated the USA position as the supreme imperialist power of our day. The world is becoming more dangerous, particularly to peoples of the Third World. Unlike earlier imperialist orders, the new world order, Pax Americana, is monopolar. The world, including our own corner, is likely to face some unprecedented dangers. Most of these dangers emanates from the way the guardian of the evolving new world order itself. Its uncontested hegemony, its increasingly aggressive and global politics together with a megalomaniac president who seeks to present himself as the 21st century’s reincarnation of medieval crusaders, should worry people everywhere, including the American peoples themselves. It is regrettable that the rulers of the GCC are finding themselves, once again, being dragged into a collision with the aggressive and anti-people politics of the ruling circles in the United States. The evolving objectives of the current crusade are likely to engage our countries in military confrontations with several regional actors than the undefined ‘terrorist networks’. The presence of American military bases in the Gulf and on the territories of the GCC is an immediate source of considerable apprehension among our peoples. What would be the position of the GCC in case the crusading alliance decides to confront Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria? Further, by joining the current Crusade the rulers of the GCC are entering into a direct alliance with Israel. Sharon and other warmongers in Israel have not disguised the fact that their public agenda calls for using the Crusade to crush any form of resistance to its occupation of Palestinian territories. VOB: Bahrain is undergoing a transitional period towards re-establishment of parliament. What are your thoughts regarding the priorities at this political phase?Khalaf: The transitional period, which was launched with an unprecedented fanfare, is, at best, standing still. The good news is that it is not dead yet. In fact, none of the relevant political actors wants the reform euphoria to die but there are many who are actively working to keep it in its current state of coma. There is, therefore, an acute need that all democrats, whether allied to the regime or in the opposition, should join forces to revive the political reform process. It must be put back on track and must move forward. Gradually grows the feeling of frustration, of being letdown and of being cheated. This is a serious development that we cannot afford to brush it aside. It needs to be seriously and responsibly dealt with by all of us whether we support or oppose of the current policies of the regime. Frustration is growing among the very groups of people who trusted the Amir and engaged themselves with enthusiasm and gave the reform project what amounted to be unqualified support. The sit-ins of the unemployed and other disadvantaged groups viewed by some as ‘untimely’ expressions of restlessness may be our alarm bells.The Amir seems to believe that the 98.4% of Bahrainis who voted on February 14-15 (2001) to approve the National Action Charter also gave him a free reign to interpret their will in any way he chooses, including side-stepping the constitution in favour of the National Action Charter. For his own sake and for the sake of the country, the Amir needs to be reminded, once again, that no one signed a blank cheque on February 14-15 and that trust that people gave him must be reciprocated. I do not dispute for a moment the positive ramifications that resulted from the Amiri ‘initiatives’, including the release of political prisoners and detainees, the return of nearly all exiles and the abrogation of the State Security Law. However these positive ramifications do not touch upon the balance of power within the country. For, in spite of all that is said and done, the prevailing balance of power remains heavily tilting in favour of the regime and particularly in favour the ruling family, the al-Khalifa. Without addressing this asymmetric power relations the Amiri ‘reform project’ will not be anything more than just an Amiri project. The Amir is the one (together with, as it may, his faction within the ruling family) who decides the speed, the volume, the extent and the direction of the ‘reform project’ as well as who are its likely beneficiaries. From a political view the Amir has hitherto secured for himself, with tacit acquiescence by most leaders of the opposition, an unprecedented status in our history. Within the prevailing rules of the political game, the Amir is both an adversary and the supreme arbitrator. Several indications point towards the emergence of a despotic, albeit modern, regime. While some of these indications are inconsequential in themselves, together they are alarming. These include the manner in which the Amir treats leaders of the opposition, the emerging grandiose majestic style of conducting state business, the ways political decisions deliberated and decreed, and his increasingly evident use of MAKRAMA as a tool of political co-option and for gaining political support. In spite of all the rhetoric on ‘participation’, the reform process is a one-man-show. It is not surprising, therefore, that the demeanour of the Amir in recent months reveals that he feels very comfortable with the current arrangement. And that is probably why he continues to reject all calls for a serious dialogue with leaders of the opposition. While he has met all relevant leaders of the opposition, no one of these, as far I know, has actually discussed, let alone negotiated, with Amir any strategic aspect of the process of political reforms and democratisation in the country, its requirements and mid- and long term ramifications. VOB: On a practical level, what are the most important priorities?Khalaf: On a more practical level I would highlight two priorities that must be considered by the opposition, or what remains of it. The first priority is that it should try to capture part of the political initiative from the Amiri hands by articulating and by upping its democratic demands including the right to be a partner in shaping the contours of the reform project, i.e. transforming it from being an Amiri project to a national project. In other words, we need to state clearly and unequivocally that Amiri MAKRAMAs are not a secure pathway towards democratic regime where all citizens are equal and free. The second priority for the opposition is to define the role of the ruling family, al-Khalifa in the process of political reforms. I must note that neither the constitution nor the charter allocate any particular political role to the ruling family. Indeed, both documents emphasise citizenship rights for all regardless of their backgrounds. Bahrainis, I am afraid, are going to lose this immediate opportunity to democratise their political system and society if their political elite, whether in opposition or in the folds of the regime, fail to ‘nationalise’ the reform project. Political reforms are vital to our future. We should join forces to revive the reform process, to re-activate it, and above all, to prevent it from remaining an Amiri prerogative, a mere MAKRAMA. 

Bahrain: First political society given the go-aheadThe government took a positive step on 18 September when it authorised the establishing of the first political society in Bahrain. The “National Democratic Action Society” was registered by the Labour & Social Affairs Ministry to function as a political group, bringing together leftist and nationalist activists in the country. Moreover, the ministry gave a tentative approval for “Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society” which brings together several groups of Islamists. At present, the law governing associations is being revised to allow societies to function politically. Political parties are still banned in Bahrain, but allowing societies to function politically is considered a major step in the reform process. Through this arrangement, Bahrain is one step ahead of the Kuwaiti situation where political parties are banned and informal groupings are not formally recognised. At present, several of the groupings in Bahrain are preparing themselves for the forthcoming elections for both parliament and municipalities. Bahrainis were promised that the parliament will return by 2004. However, there are many pressing issues that require the existence of the elected council. Hence, political activists are calling for the return of the parliament sooner than the original target date. The issuance of laws should be through the elected body, not by decree. Another positive move is expected to go ahead relating to a new law governing the awards of contracts. This law is being championed by the Crown Prince who has vowed to provide fair and clean process for award of public sector contracts. The Minister of Works, Mr. Fahmi Al-Joder, is a close associate of the Crown Prince, and since becoming a minister, he has managed to stop some corruption practices. He, for example, managed to cut 28 million dinars (about $75m) of commissions and kick-back from one state-run project for constructing a bridge linking the new industrial area in Hidd with the industrial area in Manama (Mina Salman). On the other hand, tension is rising in the region following the terrorist bombings in the USA and the consequent US preparations to strike Afghanistan. The US Defence Department ordered dozens of warplanes to move to forward bases in the Gulf region in what Pentagon sources say is the “initial buildup of forces in America’s new war against terrorism.” The deployment includes F-15E and F-16 fighter jets, KC-135 refuelling tankers and other support aircraft. In the Gulf region, the U.S. has facilities for aircraft in Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. People in the region are increasingly worried that more innocent lives will be sacrificed unless the root causes of terrorism, rather than the symptoms, are understood and tackled. Bahrain Freedom Movement 20 September 2001Tel/Fax: +44 207 278 9089

19 September 2001: “Voice of Bahrain” interview with Peter Cathcart, British lawyer with in-depth knowledge in politics of the Middle East.VOB: As a British citizen and legal expert with in-depth knowledge in politics of the Middle East, how do you view the impact of the terrorist bombing in the US, especially as there had been hundreds of British victims in last week’s terror?Cathcart: The political impact of the bombing in the long run will be very significant. I do not believe that major changes will result from any significant shift in US Foreign Policy, more from a global shift resulting from the realisation that terrorism is a worldwide and major problem which needs to be tackled by all countries working together. So far, they have not done so.What happened in the US was horrific and totally unforeseen. Forget Star Wars as a means of defence. Many countries suffer from internal terrorism which they need to tackle. Many terrorists work from safe havens in other countries. All countries will realise that global co-operation to defeat terrorism is essential. No country is immune. If it can be done in the US it can be done virtually anywhere.The economic impact is already being felt in many countries. Travel will diminish, poorer countries will suffer more than rich ones because they do not have the resources to cope in a downturn, and the major losers will be the poor and destitute. More powerful countries will be channelling resources into the fight against terrorism, rather than the fight against global poverty, the greatest indictment of the modern world.VOB: Bahrain is going through a transitional reform process, what are the main concerns with regard to the effects of recent events on political reforms in the region in general?Cathcart: Recent events will not change the reform process underway in Bahrain. The changes are gradual, sustainable, and at a pace which allows change to be effective. Rapid change is often unsustainable. Rome was not built in a day. A democratic child is not a democratic father, and needs to learn and develop the skills, experience and expertise of the democratic father.In the region as a whole change is on the way – and recent events will have little effect. If anything, the need for greater security may impinge on the speed of change. We are becoming a global village and the benefits enjoyed by many need to be nurtured for the less fortunate.VOB: On the medium and long-term, do you see our troubled region heading towards democratisation?Cathcart: In the medium term perhaps marginally slower, but in the long run change is inexorable and inevitable. Change needs to be external, not just internal. We need to become nations of equals, not nations of gross inequality. That is the greatest challenge not just for the region, but for the world as a whole. We should not just look to our own needs, but rather to the needs of the people of the world generally. VOB: What do you see the priorities for the pro-democratic Islamic movement at this stage?Cathcart: Islam is one of the great religions of the world. Sadly, outside the Islamic world it is often associated with fundamentalism and, more recently, horrific terror. Those within the pro-democratic Islamic movement need to understand how the outside world views Islam. It is portrayed round the world as something it is not. The terrorists were not Moslems, they were simply mass murderers taking the cloak of Islam to justify their horrific crimes. What they did was fundamentally contrary to the teachings of Islam and the Koran. It is therefore even more essential these days for those seeking to pursue democratic aims to do so peacefully and strictly in accordance with the true tenets of Islam. It is also vital for that message to be made clear to the outside world. It is too easy for those seeking to pursue democratic change to be tarred with the same brush as those simply using Islam to pursue their own totally undemocratic aims.Remember always that when you pursue your lofty goals it is the men, women and children of the rest of the world who do not have proper food and shelter who most need your assistance.

18 September 2001“Voice of Bahrain” interview with Dr. Charles Graves, Secretary General,Interfaith International (Geneva)VOB: As a US citizen and from your leading position as a human rightscampaigner, how do you view the political and economic impact of the terroristbombing in the US on the Middle East ?Graves: It may oblige the US government to re-think its policy in the M.E. but Iam not certain that such re-thinking will be, necessarily, in the positivedirection. On the other hand, the US population, and hopefully the government,may have their eyes opened to the necessity to include countries outside the USAin their planning. What I mean by this is that the USA must no longer “go italone” when international crises come along. The USA must, I believe, takeadvice from the other countries which have their own priorities. By dialogingwith these “partners” the USA can make relevant policies, one hopes. Theterrorism which touched the USA at least “woke” the sleeping giant out of itscomplacency.The economic impact of the terrorism: Today (18 Sep. 01) the stock and bondmarkets reinstated themselves quite well. The Euro is relatively strong againstthe dollar, and the European Central Bank was able to make its opinion known tothe USA “Fed” and they worked together. This was a sign that Europe has become apartner with, rather than a tool of, USA economic policy. Since the Europeanshave, perhaps, a more balanced view of the Middle East than the American,perhaps their new “economic weight” may bring the Americans towards cooperationwith others.On the other hand, the countries of the Gulf probably are made somewhat insecureas to the fact that they hold many American stocks and bonds, especially if thedollar goes down vis à vis the Euro. Moreover, the terrorist attacks in New Yorketc. , and reaction of “fundamentalist” groups in Pakistan, Suudi Arabia, Yemenetc. probably make the emirates and kingdoms in the Gulf quite puzzled as towhether they should side with the Americans in the future, or if they should paymore attention to their own dissidents at home.VOB: Bahrain is going through a transitional reform process, what are your mainconcerns with regard to the effects the recent events on political reforms inthe region in general?Graves: Again, it is evident that many people in the region, especially theyoung, the unemployed, those not holding the same interpretation of religion asthe rulers, etc. — these many persons will either succeed in changing thepolitical and economic realities in their own countries, or they will take uparms against various “Satans” including their own rulers, the Americans, etc. Onthe other hand, if the Europeans, for example, can convince the Americans, andothers, that a global approach to religious “fundamentalism” must be set inmotion, and with the consent of the world of Islam in general, make an effort toelaborate new policies vis à vis Israel, vis à vis economic imperialism etc.Such new universally-accepted policies (as the U.N. Special Rapporteur onTerrorism has already suggested) may prevent a multitude of young persons in theM.E., South Asia and elsewhere from conceiving terrorist attacks as the onlymeans to achieve their aims. After all, fundamentalist theology always feeds onignorance and deprivation. Otherwise, why should people commit kamikaze and killthemselves unless they are driven to it by a certain frustration.I hope that Bahrain and its government can show some other countries in theregion that, even with dissenting religious voices, multi-culturalism cansucceed in giving the “people” what they want and prevent violent”fundamentalist” acts. But perhaps it is in Saudi Arabia and Yemen that thesituation is the most dangerous. Wahabism has not yet come to grips withinter-Muslim dialogues too well, and it seems to be somewhat limited in itsapproach to modern culture. Is it still living in feudalism, one may ask. On theother hand, other Muslims, because of suffering, seem much better to understand”human rights” and “democracy”. The Muslim countries are obliged to take”political” stands vis à vis the terrorist attacks on the USA, and they may notbe able to react in the best possible way.VOB: On the medium and long-term, do you see our troubled region heading towardsdemocratisation?Graves: It seems that such will be the case, but it is difficult to obligemonarchies to allow parliaments etc. to function fully. Perhaps Bahrain may setthe example, or Kuwait to some extent. Anyway, with (it appears) most of theWorld Trade Towers and Pentagon “terrorists” coming from Saudi Arabia and Yemen,certainly the states in the Gulf should become more active in “modernising”their political, social and economic, life. In a “globalised world” it seemsimpossible for semi-feudal societies to survive. On the other hand, since SaudiArabia is the home of world Islam, this obliges the Saudis to rethink the wholequestion of dialogue among the religions and to take a more active part intrying to resolve complicated political and international issues through callingupon Islam and its faithful to take leadership positions in conflict-solving,calling upon the leaders of Islam to give their opinions more frequently andmore relevantly.If this initiative is not taken by the Gulf emirates and kings, for example, theRussians will always blame the Saudis for what happened in Chechniya. Also, theEuropeans and others will blame Saudis for supporting backward views towardswomen (as in Afghanistan). Saudi Arabia, at the present juncture, has a greatresponsibility, it seems to me.VOB: What do you see the priorities for the pro-democratic Islamic movement atthis stage?Graves: This is a positive sign in the present world. The “West” will begin tounderstand Islam if its proponents continue the dialogue concerning topics suchas dialogue with Islamic theology, dialogue over the role of women in society,problems related to “Western” and “Islamic” contemporary culture (especially asthey affect youth) etc. After the World Trade Centre terrorism, the Americansseem to be ready to begin a dialogue with Islam, even if many “on the fringes”are using the recent terrorism as a pretext to attack Islam as a religion.In Durban (recent U.N. Conference on Racism and Intolerance) Islam was, ingeneral, viewed favourably by the almost 10,000 members of NGOs who attended.Islamic representatives took a full and active part in all caucuses andcommissions, and in the Commission on Religious Intolerance, in which I was anactive member, the Islamic point of view had no difficulty in being heard. In aNGO panel on “Islamophobia” presented during the government conference, theattendance was surprisingly large, both governments and NGOs. The U.N. SpecialRapporteur on Religious Intolerance, Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, participated in thispanel and in quite a few other meetings discussing the questions related toreligions, racism, intolerance etc. One feels optimistic that, at least amongthe victims of violence, racism and discrimination (who constituted the majorityof participants at the Durban Conference) there was a general appreciation ofIslam as a force behind protection of human rights.This should be an encouragement to Muslims to continue their combat to show theworld that Islam has a real contribution to make against terrorism, racism,intolerance and discrimination and in behalf of human rights. Perhaps thepro-democratic Islamic movement must speak even more loudly today to showAmericans and Europeans, and Africans, etc. that Islam (in its various aspects)is greater that some kamikaze radicals. Also, if what happened in Bahrain can besymbolic of future developments in Gulf, the Bahrainis should speak clearly andpersistently that Islam and democracy are not incompatible.

16 September 2001: “Voice of Bahrain” interview with Dr. Alaa Al-Yousuf, leading Bahraini economist and political activist.VOB: As an econmoist who worked for the IMF in Washington DC and who now operates in the City, London, how do you view the political and economic impact of the terrorist bombing in the US on Muslims and on the politics of the Middle East?Al-Yousuf: The victims of the crime that was perpetrated on Tuesday 11 September 2001, are many, but first and foremost are the thousands of innocent people who lost their lives. Much has already been said about the shocking scale and nature of this carnage. On Friday, 14 September, almost the whole world expressed its condemnation of the crime and its grief for the bereaved families of the victims. Those who abstained or, even worse, rejoiced, will have joined the terrorists, not in the murder, but in adding to the incalculable damage on the other victims of the atrocity, namely, Islam as a faith, Muslims and Arabs as peoples, and possibly the Palestinian cause.The terrorists and their apologists managed to sully Islam as a faith both in the eyes of many Muslims and non-Muslims alike. While it is the duty of every Muslim to behave in an exemplary manner to “exalt the name of Islam”, those people, and others before them, have succeeded in putting the words Islam, Muslims, Koran, and Allah in the same sentence as the words Crime, Atrocity, Terrorism and Evil, in newspapers and radio and TV broadcasts around the world. Although the evidence about the terrorists is still scant, the mere fact that Islam is one of the prime suspects is enough to bring shame on many innocent Muslims.What, in my view, has made matters worse was the reaction of a minority of Muslims, both in the UK and the Middle East, to the atrocity. By rejoicing or abstaining from condemning the atrocity they have failed the basic moral test of telling right from wrong. It is the duty of every parent and teacher to teach children right from wrong. Islam, like other religions, reinforces this sense. It also teaches us “do not let your grievances against some people make you unjust, be just, it is closer to piety”. The fact that Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, with American support, has been a crime does not justify crimes by Muslims. Two wrongs do not make a right. Muslims and Arabs living in the West could suffer reprisals, whether physical, verbal or in more subtle forms. It could now be even more difficult for Muslims to set up schools and mosques and campaign against possible discrimination. It will be even more difficult for Muslims to be treated sympathetically when claiming to be genuine refugees. In general, political opinion in the west towards Muslims and Arabs could harden and affect foreign and aid policies.This could very well affect adversely the Palestinian cause. Rather than force the US government to change its policy towards Israel and the Palestinian, the atrocity could backfire. Israel is already busy taking advantage of this situation. Moreover, any Middle Eastern government that cracks down on its domestic opponents on the pretext that they are Muslim fundamentalists, could get away with it because governments and human rights NGOs in the west will not be able to muster enough popular support to counteract such policies. The global war against terrorism that is about to be waged could be used as a cover to punish peaceful Muslim communities in China, South Asia, Central Asia, and the Russian Federation. So-called “political Islam” could be targeted in countries as diverse as Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia and the Gulf. The atrocity could be seen as evidence not just of “political Islam” condoning terrorism, but worse still, as evidence that “political Islam” has failed to teach its followers the basic difference between right and wrong, and that the ends justify the means. It will not be difficult to find plenty of evidence that could support this argument.The only way to counteract such fears is for Muslim public figures, e.g. leaders of countries, parties, communities, and prayer congregations, as well as opinion makers, to take a lead in raising popular awareness of the moral teachings of Islam as they relate practically to this tragedy. Those who hold other views should be allowed to express them peacefully and freely. This is an important lesson in establishing a political culture based on moral principles and debate rather than hatred and injustice. I am delighted to see that many wise and enlightened leaders in many Muslim countries have said and done the right things and I hope that their wisdom and resolve will not desert them in the trying moments that we are likely to witness in the days to come. This would include condemning any criminal actions against innocent people taken by the US and its allies in seeking to eradicate global terrorism.

Bahrain: One-minute silence to honour those killed  in the US; Lord Avebury to visit BahrainBahraini and Iranian football players held a minute of silence on 14 September before Asian World Cup qualifying match in Tehran to honour those killed in terrorist attacks in the United States. Both Bahrain and Iran remain unbeaten in their qualifying group but the latter tops the table with eight points while Bahrain is in second position with six points.Inside Bahrain, religious scalars denounced the terrorist attacks in the US. During the Friday prayer, Sheikh Al-Jamri said “I express my rejection and denunciation of all attacks against civilians and innocent people and I denounce all those operations that contradict the teachings of Islam which call for peace and justice”.In an interview dated 15 September with the “Voice of Bahrain”, the newsletter of the Bahrain Freedom Movement, Lord Avebury, the Vice-Chair of the UK Parliamentary Human Rights Group, denounced the terrorist attacks in the US and said “the general welcome that has been given to the reform process in Bahrain shows that the further advance of democracy, human rights and the rule of law has widespread support among the people.”He went on to say “Over the last century there has been a steady advance towards self-government and political freedoms everywhere in the world, and no region can remain insulated from these trends. Empires have crumbled one by one; autocrats have been toppled, and peoples are developing their own brands of democracy based on their cultures and traditions. In the Gulf, already we can see the development of self-rule, and the underpinning of a thriving civil society, which is the essential foundation of a healthy democracy. Democracy is not merely about voting once every few years; it means also the existence of organisations representing all the various interests in a society such as the trade unions, women’s and young people’s organisations, single issue pressure groups and university societies.”It is worth noting that Lord Avebury will be visiting Bahrain on 7 October following an invitation by the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS). The authorities cancelled an earlier visit last June, but later on permission was granted and Lord Avebury is expected to receive a warm welcome by the Bahraini people. Lord Avebury supported the Bahraini pro-democracy movement since 1994.Bahrainis were saddened today at the death of one of the leading social figures, Mr. Jasim Fakhro, 60, who had been receiving treatment in the US. Mr. Fakhro was the president of the prestigious Al-Oroba Club and he had always been at the forefront of cultural activities. The people of Bahrain will always remember his most recent contributions to political reforms.Bahrain Freedom Movement15 September 2001

Tel/Fax: +44 207 278 9089

15 September 2001″Voice of Bahrain” interview with Lord Avebury, the Vice-Chair of the UK Parliamentary Human Rights GroupVOB: From your leading position as a human rights campaigner, how do you view the political and economic impact of the terrorist bombing in the US on the Middle East?Avebury. Apparently it was only too easy for the terrorists to get enough training to be able to fly large airliners, and to get through the rather casual security precautions at US airports. No doubt the authorities will be undertaking a root and branch overhaul of their own security services, and their links with the services of friendly countries in the Middle East which might be able to shed some light on this operation, and the possibility that further exercises of a similar magnitude could be in the course of preparation. The Khobar Towers atrocity, and the bombing of US Embassies in Africa, may be seen as the precursor of the World Trade Center and Pentagon operations, and it would be naïve to assume that the terrorists have no further shots in their locker.For the moment, every single Government in the Middle East except that of Iraq has condemned the atrocity. The Americans have to consider their response very carefully, and only to strike against proved terrorists and their protectors. A much wider retaliation could have a baleful effect on public opinion in the region. There are already people who actually approved the World Trade Center atrocity, because they felt it revenged US support of Israel’s continuing violations of Palestinian human rights, and the harm to civilians caused by the policy of sanctions on Iraq. If, now, the American response is not seen as measured and proportionate, the result could be to alienate further sections of public opinion in the region.It is too early to say whether the US will become more or less engaged in the Middle East as a result of this disaster. Some policymakers may conclude that if the US is less involved, both in terms of physical presence and in trying to help broker a settlement, the terrorists would have less motive for attacking Americans. Others would argue that the existence of groups with such a total disregard for human life, including their own, makes it all the more imperative that political solutions should be sought.I think everybody, and not just the Americans, will try to understand the mindset of the terrorists, and whether it is connected directly with the question of the Middle East. If there are groups which are ideologically committed to the destruction of the US, they constitute a different kind of enemy from those who are angry about US Middle East policy. They would not be the sort of people you could sit down and argue with on a rational basis, nor would they themselves have any reason to discuss their grievances. The fact that no statement has been made about their motives does seem to confirm that scenario.VOB: Bahrain is going through a transitional reform process, what are your main concerns with regard to the effects of recent events and would they have negative effects on political reforms?Avebury: I have a general concern, that in their anxiety to protect themselves from terrorism, states everywhere may feel compelled to adopt authoritarian measures. Of course, Bahrain is at present moving away from the controls of the past, towards a more free and open society. If people enjoy political freedom, there is no reason why anybody should want to use terrorist methods. The Irish like paradoxes, and it was an Irishman who said, when Ireland was still under British rule, that ‘violence is the only way of securing a hearing for moderation’. This should mean that once people are able to talk about political choices, and to make those choices through the ballot box, there is no longer any justification for the use of force to gain any political objective.The general welcome that has been given to the reform process in Bahrain shows that the further advance of democracy, human rights and the rule of law has widespread support among the people. The goals of the terrorists are not to do with the internal affairs of GCC states, and there is no reason to believe they would have even noticed the Bahrain Spring.It is understandable that such a devastating attack on the heart of the mightiest country in the world should have an unsettling effect on the minds of statesmen everywhere, including the Gulf. These groups, whoever they are, pose a deadly threat not just to the United States, but the order and security throughout the world. I am sure that GCC countries will see the need to cooperate with the rest of the international community in making sure that the mass murderers are caught. But I hope, and believe, they can do this without interrupting or delaying their progress towards freedom and justice.VOB: On the medium and long-term, do you see our troubled region heading towards democratisation?Avebury: Yes, very definitely. Over the last century there has been a steady advance towards self-government and political freedoms everywhere in the world, and no region can remain insulated from these trends. Empires have crumbled one by one; autocrats have been toppled, and peoples are developing their own brands of democracy based on their cultures and traditions. In the Gulf, already we can see the development of self-rule, and the underpinning of a thriving civil society which is the essential foundation of a healthy democracy. Democracy is not merely about voting once every few years; it means also the existence of organisations representing all the various interests in a society such as the trade unions, women’s and young people’s organisations, single issue pressure groups and university societies. I think the Gulf region still has a long way to go before its states have a fully developed civil society, but they are moving towards a legal framework that makes it possible for all these organisations to work freely together, feeding ideas into the political system.VOB: What do you see as the priorities for the pro-democratic Islamic movement at this stage?Avebury: I have to answer this question in very general terms, because it would be presumptuous of me to speak in any detail about priorities for the pro-democratic Islamic movement, or for any other movement in Bahrain. Up until recently, it seemed right for all pro-democracy elements in Bahrain to come together in the Committee for Popular Petition, asking for a strictly limited return to the 1972 Constitution and the 1973 Assembly. Now that more than that is on offer, and there is the prospect of an elected Parliament with legislative powers, the pro-democratic Islamic movement will no doubt consider whether it s expedient to form a political party, to contest elections at local and national level. If the Party is a conventional organisation of members, presumably it will elect its leader and officials; establish committees to draft its programmes, and raise money so that it can print and distribute literature when the election campaign begins. It might wish to establish contact with sister parties in other countries, and to send officials to observe how elections are conducted abroad. It would look for a Party Headquarters, from which it would organise branches in the villages, issue press statements, train party members, and run campaigns.The pro-democratic Islamic movement has also an important role in the development of Islamic political theory. Several countries claim to have synthesised democracy and Islam, with varying degrees of success, but there is more work to be done on the theoretical basis for Islamic democracy, which could be or importance not just for Bahrain, but the whole Islamic world.VOB: Thank you, Lord Avebury.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) 14 September: Iran held a minute of silence before Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Bahrain to honor those killed in terrorist attacks in the United States.The crowd of about 60,000 sat quietly, players stood on the field and TV announcers kept silent. Sixty seconds later, the referee’s whistle signaled the start of play.The U.S. Embassy in Tehran was seized by militants in 1980. After 444 days, American hostages were freed.Iran (2-0-2) played a scoreless tie against Bahrain (1-0-3) and maintained a two-point lead in Group A of the second round of Asian qualifying.

The winner of the group, which also includes Saudi Arabia (1-1-1), Iraq (1-3) and Thailand (0-1-2) advances to next year’s World Cup.


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) 14 September: After a moment of silence for the victims of the terrorist attack on New York and Washington, Iran was held to a 0-0 draw against Bahrain in an Asian World Cup qualifying match.Despite a long-frosty Iranian-American political relationship, 60,000 spectators at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium sat quietly in their seats. Players stood still on the field and television announcers also honored the silence.Sixty seconds later, the referee blew his whistle, signaling the start of the Group A match.In a Group B match, where there was also a moment of silence observed before the match, Oman drew 1-1 with the United Arab Emirates.Iran dominated the game and threatened the Bahrain goal several times, but the Iranian attackers failed to deliver.Iran’s international striker Ali Daei missed multiple chances, further frustrating the crowd.The weaker Bahraini side often fouled Iranian players and slowed the pace of the game to break Iranian momentum.Iran leads the group with eight points from four matches while Bahrain is second with six points from four matches.

Saudi Arabia trails in third place with four points from three matches, followed by Iraq with three points from four matches. Thailand is in last place with two points from three matches.

DUBAI (Reuters) – Religious and government leaders in Gulf Arab states spoke out in defense of Islam Friday in the face of a backlash against Muslims and Arabs following Tuesday’s terror attacks on the United States.Saudi Arabia’s top judicial official, Sheikh Saleh bin Mohammed al-Luhaidan, said the perpetrators of the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington were “regarded under Islam as the worst and most dangerous criminals” and did not represent their countries.”Islam does not condone murder except (to punish) those who kill or who attack Muslims and, therefore, such crimes which do not differentiate between a baby, woman or elderly person … are considered one of the greatest of crimes,” Sheikh Saleh said.Hostility to Arab and Muslim people and institutions has been reported in some countries as the investigation into the attacks pointed toward a Middle East connection. The United States has named Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, who lives in Afghanistan, as a suspect.”Such horrendous acts should not stir hatred, or spite or revenge against Muslims who did not accept, condone, or bless these acts,” Sheikh Saleh said in comments carried by state media.”The American society and the West cannot believe that … a country should be held responsible and attacked for the actions of one who did not consult it or notify it,” Sheikh Saleh said.In the United Arab Emirates, Friday prayers focused on the issue of terrorism.”Islam and Muslims do not accept for any people of the world to be subjected to the terrorist acts that the American people were subjected to because that violates Islamic teachings against hatred, treachery and the murder of innocents,” one cleric said.The foreign minister of Bahrain, the current head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which represents the world’s 1 billion Muslims, said Islam rejects violence and bloodshed.

“Islam is a religion which … calls for the preservation of human life and refraining from attacking innocents, and is a religion of forgiveness and love,” Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani told the Gulf News Agency.

14 September: Bahrainis safe Bahrain’s students in the US are all safe and well, it was confirmed last night.Sources at Bahrain’s embassy in Washington said that they were in constant telephone contact with all students and families.

The embassy also urged Bahraini citizens in the US to contact it by phone on (202) 342-0741 or by e-mail at in case they have questions or need help. 

Bahraini diplomats and families accounted for (Gulf Daily News – 13 Sep 2001) BAHRAIN’S Ambassador to the United Nations Jassim Mohammed Buallay was back at work yesterday, but said it was anything but business as usual.He was at his Diplomatic Mission in New York but was unable to go to UN headquarters as they remained closed after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre.Bahrain’s five full-time diplomats to the UN and their families and office staff are all safe, but no one can be sure if any other Bahrainis were affected by the attacks.”To my knowledge, no Bahrainis were killed, injured or reported missing in either Washington or New York,” remarked Mr Buallay. “We have Bahrainis in the New York area, mostly students, bankers and businessmen. However, most of them are living in New Jersey.”Mr Buallay and his staff all live far from the World Trade Center, he added.The envoy said that the city was “unusually quiet,” in the aftermath of the attack, and there were few people in the streets of Manhattan.It was difficult to get onto the island and road tunnels were still closed.Mr Buallay has lived in New York for seven years and said that he could never have imagined such an attack possible.”I am sure that almost everyone here finds it hard to believe anything like this could ever happen on such a large magnitude,” he remarked. “It is beyond anybody’s imagination.”Mr Buallay first learned about the unfolding events on morning television on Tuesday.The diplomat hopes the UN will re-open today.”This is a very busy time for us as ordinary sessions of the General Assembly run from now through December,” he continued. “You can imagine what our work schedule is like.” Even if the UN does reopen, it will still take some time to achieve a sense of normality.”It is going to take time,” he said.

“But everything will undoubtedly fall into place.”

Bahrain diplomats condemn attacks (Gulf Daily News 12 Sep 2001)By RICHARD MOOREMANAMADIPLOMATS of all nationalities in Bahrain condemned the attacks.Pakistani Ambassador Mohammed Shafiq said the acts were the work of “cowards” and he hoped the American government would track down those responsible.”This is a dastardly act in the modern world. I don’t know what this type of thing will prove to anyone,” he said.Libyan Ambassador Dr Nuri Baryan condemned the attacks, but said they came as no surprise.”It is very bad to kill innocent civilians under any circumstances,” he said.”But America and the entire West place themselves in a vulnerable political position, they cannot save the world.”Dr Baryan spent a number of years studying in America and said he had a great fondness for its people.”My personal feeling is one of sadness. My sympathies go out to the families of the victims,” he said.Lebanese Ambassador Mohammed Al Hajjar said: “We are against any acts of terrorism against civilians.””Our condolences go out to the people who have been affected by these incidents.”British Ambassador Peter Ford was in London and could not be reached for comment.British charge d’affaires Dr Robert Wilson deplored the attacks.”It’s extraordinary. I’m watching the events on television with disbelief,” he said. “We’ve contacted our friends at the US Embassy here to see if there’s anything we can do.” Jordanian Ambassador Lu’ay Mohammed Khashman was following the events last night from his home in Amman.He expects to return to Bahrain today.”We are against any type of terrorism. We are very sad for the victims and their families,” he said.”I am horrified to see these events unfold,” said Bangladesh Ambassador Mohammed Azizur Rahman.”This type of aggression does not serve any purpose.”Mr Rahman said he realised the US was a target for many worldwide terrorist organisations.”But acts such as these cannot be tolerated by the world community,” he added.Yemeni Ambassador Ahmed Mohammed Al Mutawakkel agreed.”Whatever the circumstances surrounding those responsible for these acts, such behaviour cannot be permitted to happen,” he remarked.”My sympathy goes out to everyone who has been affected by this tragedy.”US Ambassador Johnny Young would not comment last night.A taped message on the embassy telephone number advised American citizens to exercise extreme caution.US military officials in Bahrain would not comment.Turkish Ambassador Hilal Baskal said she was shocked by the attack.”Words are not sufficient to express my sentiments and grief, which I felt from the scenes I have been seeing on television,” she said.”It is the most heinous attack and a tragic day for the US, the world and humanity.”Ms Baskal said humanity did not deserve such action.”Terrorism is the worst illness of our era and we should all condemn it and work together to overcome it,” she added. “I pray for the victims and wish strength for their families.”


Bahrain passengers are stranded (Gulf Daily News – 12 Sep 2001) MANAMAPASSENGERS to and from Bahrain were stranded as all US airports shut down and other international flights were disrupted yesterday.Two of Gulf Air’s code-sharing flights were among those cancelled.Gulf Air has a code-sharing arrangement with American Airlines (AA) for passengers bound for the US.”Two of our AA flights from London to Washington and New York were affected,” said Gulf Air’s public relations manager Ahmed Janahi.”There are some passengers from Bahrain booked on those flights to travel to the US cities.”Gulf Air will do everything to look after the stranded passengers. The exact number of passengers affected is not known, as most of the airline offices in London are closed.”Mr Janahi said it was too early to comment on the future operations.”The situation is absolutely chaotic. The only thing we can now confirm is that Gulf Air will do everything to take care of its passengers,” he said.A KLM flight to Bahrain turned back to Amsterdam as the airline grounded its flights until further notice, an official confirmed last night.The flight, carrying 86 passangers for Bahrain, was several hours into its journey when it turned back, said Bahrain International Airport KLM manager Ravi Ullal.Another 110 passengers were due to board the return flight from Bahrain to Amsterdam.Many of them were transferred to either Gulf Air’s flight to Frankfurt or the British Airways flight to Heathrow, London, said Mr Ullal.He advised passengers due to travel with KLM today to check first. British Airways country commercial manager Jane Bishop advised passengers bound for the US from Bahrain to travel only to London.”We have been in contact with our passengers to advise them that our flights will not be operating to any US point, until further notice,” she said.”According to information available, none of the passengers who has travelled from Bahrain on our flights earlier has been affected by the crisis.

“All our flights to US have been diverted to other countries.” 

MANAMA, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Regional airline Gulf Air has suspended all its flights to the United States in the wake of the terror attacks that led Washington to close all U.S. airports, the official Gulf News Agency reported on Wednesday.An official of the Bahrain-based Gulf Air official said the company was studying the situation to secure the safety of its passengers.Gulf Air is owned by the governments of Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Abu Dhabi emirate in the United Arab Emirates.


By Ashraf FouadKUWAIT, Sept 12 (Reuters) – The United States sealed off its military bases in the Gulf area on Wednesday and security steps for U.S. civilians were swiftly introduced after massive attacks on buildings in New York and Washington rocked the superpower.But Western defence sources told Reuters that although all U.S. forces overseas had been put on top alert, the measures might not directly affect U.S.-British air patrols over Gulf War foe Iraq to enforce a no-fly zone from bases in the region.The British have not raised their level to top alert but because they share regional bases with U.S. forces, they are conforming with American security measures.”We do not see a direct threat to British interests overseas, but in view of the tragic attacks we are being more vigilant and upgrading personal and other security,” said a British diplomat in the region.U.S. troops guarding the perimeter of Camp Doha on the outskirts of Kuwait City have all pulled back into the compound, which has been sealed off to minimise any threat.The camp houses hundreds of U.S. ground forces who train in the desert state near the Iraqi border almost all year round, as well as heavy military hardware pre-positioned for immediate deployment in case of a crisis.Elsewhere in the small Gulf Arab state which the United States helped free from a seven-month Iraqi occupation in 1991, Kuwaiti bases hosting U.S. forces and aircraft were also put on top alert and extra security measures introduced.Similar measures were taken across the Gulf region, where the United States has some 15,000-25,000 military personnel.In Qatar, witnesses said local authorities blocked access roads to U.S. military facilities, including two bases for storing heavy military hardware.Strict security measures already in force at U.S. military facilities in the region were upgraded after Tuesday’s attacks, including at the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain and in Saudi Arabia where Washington has warplanes deployed.SECURITY FOR CIVILIAN UPGRADEDGulf residents reported heightened security for civilians.In Dubai, the Gulf’s main trading hub, some hotels are asking to inspect the luggage of some guests before checking them in, an Iranian businessman said.Although some in the Middle East celebrated after hijacked aircraft slammed into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington, some Kuwaitis, like their government, expressed deep sorrow.A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said: “We deeply appreciate the numerous messages of sympathy that we have received from our Kuwaiti friends.”In Dubai, a government source said the United Arab Emirates and the United States had no evidence that any UAE nationals were aboard the hijacked planes, despite a report in the Boston Herald newspaper that two suspects carried UAE passports.Despite attacks in recent years on U.S. military targets in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, some U.S. diplomats in Kuwait said the country — grateful for the U.S. role in the Gulf War — was probably one of the safest locations for Americans.But Kuwait is taking no chances, although one official told Reuters his country did not appear to be a target following Tuesday’s attacks in the United States.A defence ministry official said Kuwait had boosted the number of troops on high alert and increased checks and patrols to secure its airspace and maritime borders. The airport was put on high alert and police intensified street patrols.Heavily armed Kuwaiti security forces were deployed late on Tuesday around compounds where Westerners live.On Wednesday, Kuwait’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Sheikh Saad al-Abdulla al-Sabah convened the national security council to review Tuesday’s attacks. The official Kuwait News Agency said the council drafted plans for blood donation in Kuwait to help the thousands of injured in the United States.


MANAMA, Sept 11 (Reuters) – Qatar and Bahrain on Tuesday signed a protocol for cooperation in oil and gas, including possible export of Qatari gas to the island state, a Bahraini oil official said.Qatar’s Energy and Industry Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah signed the deal in Manama with Bahrain’s Oil Minister Sheikh Isa bin Ali al-Khalifa.”The protocol puts the general principles for the two countries’ relations in oil and gas, and calls for the forming of a joint committee to draw the basics for any commercial agreement between them,” the official told Reuters.The official said Qatar was seeking buyers for its huge gas reserves and that Bahrain might import gas from Doha if the conditions are suitable.”No final agreement has been reached and the matter is still in its very early stage,” the official said.The official said Bahrain and Kuwait might buy a total of between 500 million and one billion cubic feet per day of Qatar’s gas. “Kuwait is in more need of gas than Bahrain,” the official added.Sheikh Isa said on Monday the proposed Qatari-Bahraini gas deal was part of a plan by Gulf Arab states to establish a gas grid between the six-nation alliance.

8 Sep 2001MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Nearly 200 university graduates demonstrated outside the Education Ministry on Saturday, accusing it of unfairly awarding jobs for teachers.”Give us a job! Give us a chance!” would-be male teachers hollered at the ministry as women chanted similar slogans. A colorful banner said in English: “We are unemployed teachers requesting for jobs.”Demonstrators such as Munem al-Shatar, 28, claimed they had been waiting two years or more for a teaching job, while some graduates with good connections were obtaining posts straight after leaving university.”They are being unfair by denying us our rights,” said al-Shatar.Najla Abdel-Rasool, 25, said she had applied for a job as an English teacher in 1999, but had never heard from the ministry. “We have the knowledge and the qualification to be teachers and we have every right to demand what we deserve,” she said.An Education Ministry spokesman denied that selection was biased, saying the ministry chose the best applicants.”We need a 100 teachers for Arabic language and we get 500 applicants, so what can we do?” Amir Qassim said.Protesters took turns using a megaphone to criticize the ministry’s policies outside its building in Isa Town, 15 kilometers south of the capital, Manama. No ministry official came out to meet the demonstrators, but the ministry did provide a cold water dispenser for them.”They should at least give us a chance to prove our abilities and that’s all we ask for,” said Zainab Hussein, 23, who had applied for an Arabic teaching job, the post sought by most of the protesters.Ministry spokesman Qassim said there was a strong chance the protesters would obtain jobs in the coming academic year, which begins late September. The ministry is planning to hire some 900 Bahrainis, most of them teachers.Unemployment has long been a problem in Bahrain. It was a factor in the Shiite Muslim-led wave of unrest that gripped Bahrain in the mid-1990s.In June, the government launched a dlrs 66 million program to train and find jobs for thousands of citizens. am-jbm

GDN 8-Sep-01Trade unions a step closerMANAMAA blueprint has been drawn up for the establishment of trades unions in Bahrain, it was revealed last night.The document was discussed at a joint meeting between the General Committee of Bahrain Workers and the Bahrain Lawyers Society and found to be in line with Arab and international labour standards, committee secretary-general Abdulla Mohammed Hussain told our sister paper Akhbar Al Khaleej.The committee held a series of meetings with International Labour Organisation expert Abid Briki to define trades union activities in Bahrain in the light of Arab and international standards.The meetings centred on the rights of workers and procedures governing negotiations between employers and workers.The committee has now submitted the blueprint to the ILO for its comment and approval.Mr Hussain said the annual meeting of Bahrain Workers General Committee on September 17 would now discuss the document.HH the Amir Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa earlier ordered free trades unions to be set up in line with National Action Charter principles.

KUWAIT CITY, Sep 8, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Saturday reiterated support for the Palestinian struggles against Israeli aggressions until they regain their legitimate rights, including the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Muhammad Bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa reaffirmed the position in a statement at the conclusion of the two-day GCC’s 80th session of the ministerial council, held in Saudi Red Sea port city of Jeddah, Kuwait’s KUNA news agency reported.Sheikh Muhammad, chairman of the current session, called for a unified and solid stance to confront Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people.The GCC is coordinating efforts with the European Union, Russia, China and the United States to back the legitimacy of the Palestinians, he said.”The conflicting parties in the Mideast should abide by the principles of the peace process and relevant United Nations resolutions,” he stressed.During the meeting, the GCC foreign ministers focused on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and accused Israel of escalating the violence, which has claimed the lives of more than 750 people, most of them Palestinians, since September last year.They also urged the world community to assume its responsibilities to press Israel to end the violence and called for necessary international protection for the Palestinians.The GCC ministers are scheduled to attend an Arab foreign ministerial meeting in the Egyptian capital of Cairo next week to discuss how to shore up support for the Palestinians.

GCC, a regional political and economic alliance established in 1981, groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

DUBAI, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Gulf Arabs said on Saturday they were “astonished” that their key ally, the United States, was condoning Israeli “racist aggressions” against Palestinians.The foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said they observed with “grave concern the dangerous deterioration in the occupied Palestinian territories due to the racist aggressions carried out by Israel.”In a statement after a two-day meeting in Saudi Arabia, the ministers warned that continued Israeli policies of “siege, hunger, terror, and assassinations” would lead to a collapse of regional security and stability.They expressed “astonishment that the world community and in particular the United States, the prime patron of peace, continue to overlook Israel’s aggressive practices.”The ministers accused Israel of abandoning the accords it had signed with the Palestinians and of provoking neigbouring states in a way that “pushes the region towards an explosion.”The oil-rich GCC alliance groups Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman — all allies of the United States and reliant on Western forces for protection.Some Gulf Arab leaders have criticised President George W. Bush for what they see as blind U.S. support for Israel.The GCC meeting coincided with the final, unscheduled, day of a U.N. conference in South Africa, which approved a global plan against racism on Saturday despite disputes over the Middle East and slavery that came close to wrecking it.The United States and Israel quit the conference on Monday because of draft conference texts describing Israel as a racist state for its treatment of the Palestinians.ARAB OFFENSIVESaudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said in remarks published on Saturday that Arab countries were pondering ways to bring international pressure on Israel.However, he did not go as far as GCC Secretary-General Jameel al-Hujailan, who told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the foreign ministers would formulate an action plan in their Friday-Saturday meeting.Any such move “should be collective and on a comprehensive Arab level,” Prince Saud said.At least 554 Palestinians and 157 Israelis have been killed since the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation erupted last September after peace talks had hit deadlock..

The GCC ministers are due to attend an Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Sunday and Monday to discuss support for the Palestinians.

Bahrain rights stand outlined to conferenceBy KHALID ALKHARRAZGulf Daily News – 7 Sep 2001BAHRAIN’S efforts in promoting human rights were showcased at the International Conference on Racism, held in Durban, South Africa.The conference was also an opportunity for the Bahraini non-governmental organisations (NGOs) delegation to meet and exchange ideas with international human rights organisations.The Bahraini delegation which took part in the conference comprised Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) secretary-general Dr Sabika Al Najjar, Nabil Rajab, Abdulnabi Al Ekri, Abdulhadi Al Khuwaja and Mohammed Bu Hussain.”The participation of the Bahraini NGOs delegation created an opportunity for us to highlight the recent developments in Bahrain which support human rights,” said Dr Sabika.Dr Sabika was speaking at a Press conference at Al Oruba Club in Juffair yesterday, following the return of the Bahraini delegation from Durban.”The Bahraini participation is the first of its kind after the political reforms and the establishment of the BHRS,” she said.”At the conference, all the Arab delegations, without exception, concentrated their efforts on defending the Palestinian human rights and condemning the Israeli racist acts towards the Palestinians.”The Palestinian issue was a major issue which brought all the Arabs together.”The Arabs, along with their African and Asian allies, said Dr Sabika, were successful in curtailing the Israeli attempts to cover up their brutal acts towards the Palestinian issue.”The Israelies and their allies from western organisations tried to foil this campaign but were not successful,” she said.”At the conference in Durban, the US and Israel stood alone against the whole world in a defiant position of pursuing policies that are unacceptable within international norms,” said Mr Al Ekry.”The host country’s President Thabo Mbeki, whose people suffered a lot by the racist regime, condemned the US and Israel of attempting to sabotage the conference,” he added.”Nevertheless, both US and Israel left the conference amid campaign of slanders and distortions.”

Bahrain: Jobless problem requires more serious actions to avoid its explosion againUnemployment threatens to blow-up now and then in Bahrain. It is a complicated problem with political, economic and cultural aspects interacting with each other to prevent some 20,000 citizens from securing employment, while at the same time there are more than 200,000 foreign work-force in the country.It was in June 1994, when a group of jobless picketed in front of Labour Ministry demanding jobs. Then, they were crushed and that incident was to be one of the sparks for the uprising, which erupted in December 1994. When the jobless gathered again last April in front of the Labour Ministry, the Amir was at the forefront to prevent a repetition of what happened in 1994.  In 2001, he ordered the Labour Minister to involve a committee representing the jobless to participate in all meetings of the ministry aimed at finding jobs. He also ordered 25 million dinars (around $70m) to be spent over 6 months on finding jobs and on temporary benefits for those registered as jobless. About 10,000 citizens were registered by that time, leaving the other half to struggle for receiving the temporary benefit, and hence many had difficulties getting the benefits.The temporary benefits calmed down the situation for several weeks. By last month the pickets returned in front of the Labour Ministry. An angry demonstration was planned by the youths to go ahead on 25 August and it was only prevented in the last minute following intervention by senior opposition and religeous figures, such as Sheikh Abdul Amir Al-Jamri and Sheikh Isa Qassim.Then on 1 September a group of about 300 jobless graduates gathered at the Education Ministry complex in Isa Town and demanded an end to the unemployment problem faced by Bahraini teachers. They also asked for a personal meeting with Education Minister Dr Mohammed Al-Ghatam to discuss their demands, but the minister refused to meet them or to meet any members of their newly formed delegation in the presence of the media.The group then staged a sit-in protest and demanded a response to their calls for the ministry to give priority to the employment of Bahraini teachers. The group also demanded to know why teachers from East Asia, Jordan and elsewhere were being hired to work in the schools while they remain without jobs. The group, who described themselves as unemployed graduates from Bahrain University, then issued a statement about the growing problem they were facing and premised to stage similar pickets in the following weeks.As stated, there are many complexities related to the problem of unemployment, some of which are:1. The Labour Ministry can only influence the private sector (the public sector is regulated by the Civil Service Bureau). However, the regulations for the private sector are so distorted that the Bahraini businessmen will always favour cheap labour from the Indian Subcontinent. There are several job markets in Bahrain, with the Americans and Europeans getting the top high-pay jobs and the Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are given the very low-pay jobs. The pay-gab is astronomical and the citizens are trapped near the bottom of the scale unable to compete with the cheap labour force.2. There are many influential individuals who trade in cheap labour and are continuing to import such labour only to dump them in local market in return for a commission on their earning. This inhuman practice is not yet checked and many, including the poor expatriates, are suffering.3. Many Bahrainis are still not prepared to join the hard-work environments in industries such as construction and fishing. These two sectors can absorb all the unemployed. However, even those citizens who are prepared to join these sectors can not accept the very low-pay which the foreign expatriates from the Indian Subcontinent get.4. The government is not yet trusting some sections of Bahrain society in relation to jobs in Defence and Security. Hence, the foreign personnel in the Defence and Interior ministries are being naturalised and many natives are still barred from entering these fields.Nevertheless, some good steps are being taken to address some aspects of the problem.    A BD5.5 million scheme aimed at providing training and employment opportunities for 4,000 job seekers over two years took a step closer to reality on 4 September when the Labour and Social Affairs Minister signed a BD480,000 deal with Ernst and Young, making the latter responsible for administering a project for placing job-seekers suitable jobs. The money will be extracted from the BD25 million that was allocated earlier in the year for the jobless.  Job-seekers selected for the project will be provided with a job suited to their capabilities and qualifications and guaranteed proper training by their employer. The Minister said “We will require the employer to provide a monthly salary of not less than BD150 to the job-seekers. Out of this, the ministry will pay BD50 towards the salary”. The ministry will also earmark BD600 per month for the training of people selected for this scheme.Several schemes for strengthening the Informational Technology sector were also announced. On 3 September, it was announced that a BD100,000 ($277,000)  specialised academy to train people in computer networking will open to provide training opportunities for 1,500 people in 2001/2002.On 4 September, it was announced that the Birla Institute of Technology International Centre (BITIC) – opened 3 years ago – will be upgraded to a university to offer four-year degree courses (B Tech) that are industry-oriented. The training and educational programmes are expected to cover production engineering and information technology.All these are welcome steps. However, there is a need to address two underlying issues. The first one  must be government-led and it relates to seriously eliminating sectarianism and discrimination amongst the citizens and between citizens and foreigners. There must only be one job market for all people and this job market must be based on merits only. The latter also requires the existence of a truly representative trade union to protect labour (of all types and nationalities) from abuse. The second underlying step is a cultural one requiring the co-operation of all sides in spreading a culture that values hard work and achievements. It is only when these underlying factors are dealt with that the programmes for IT and placements of the jobless would be fruitful.Bahrain Freedom Movement5 September 2001Tel/Fax: +44 207 278 9089

DePaul University Opens First MBA Program in Bahrain

CHICAGO, Sep 05, 2001 (ASCRIBE NEWS via COMTEX) — DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business establishes its presence in the Middle East this fall when it opens an MBA program in Bahrain, becoming the first accredited U.S. business school to offer an MBA degree in the Arabian Gulf. The 16-month MBA program opens its doors on Sept. 7 at the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF), a leading executive training center in the region and DePaul’s partner in the educational endeavor.

A series of sixteen DePaul professors will travel to Bahrain to teach the program’s intensive courses to an initial class of 26 students. Bahrain, a nation encompassing an archipelago of 33 islands off the coast of Saudi Arabia, is known for its robust financial services and oil industry. “The curriculum will focus on marketing and managing change, combining core MBA classes with courses in Internet marketing and e-business strategies; entrepreneurship and new venture management; corporate finance issues; and marketing research,” said Roger Baran, director of DePaul’s Asian and Middle East MBA programs.

Students who complete the program’s 16 courses-taught in two-week modules of 40 in-class hours each-will earn their MBA degree from DePaul. Class meetings and breaks between courses are scheduled to avoid conflicts with regional religious observances and holy days. The first class of 19 men and seven women is composed of government officials from the ministries of commerce, health, and electricity and water, officials from the Court of the Crown Prince, as well as employees of the Bahrain Stock Exchange and numerous financial institutions. The average enrollee is 33 years old with nearly nine years of work experience.

The program is modeled after DePaul’s successful MBA offering at the International Bank of Asia (IBA) in Hong Kong. When it opened in 1997, this program, which focuses on banking and finance, was the first in-house MBA program in Hong Kong offered by a bank to its staff. The Hong Kong MBA program will open to the public as well as bank employees this fall.

The IBA is a subsidiary of Arab Banking Corporation (ABC), headquartered in Bahrain. Mike M. Murad, chief executive officer of the IBA and a DePaul trustee, introduced DePaul administrators to Michael Langton, director of the BIBF, thus forging the DePaul-BIBF partnership that created the Bahrain MBA program.

Kellstadt Dean Arthur Kraft said the partnership is a good fit. “There’s a tremendous need for graduate business education among Arabian Gulf professionals in high level management positions,” he said. “Bahrain’s financial services sector wants to increase the technological expertise of its managers. Business and government leaders are interested in nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset that will help the state develop new products and services. DePaul, with its global education outreach and highly ranked programs for working professionals, and the BIBF, a leader in continuing executive education in the region, are uniquely suited to launch this pioneering educational effort.”

Baran said DePaul’s students in Chicago benefit from the business school’s international MBA programs and alliances because they allow DePaul faculty to gain first-hand exposure to international business practices in a wide range of world regions.

“Our faculty has extensive understanding of the operations, trends and nuances of North American, European and Asian business markets,” Baran says. “The Bahrain program will widen the faculty’s perspective on international business to include the Middle East business culture, which they can then introduce into discussions in our Chicago classrooms, perhaps using case studies from businesses in the Gulf region.”

Bahrain: Constitutional amendments must be processed through “Article 104” of 1973 ConstitutionVarious issues are dominating the political agenda in Bahrain. Baharinis are finding themselves in a freer environment whereby expressing a view is not being punished by imprisonment. This is probably the most important “achievement” to date since the abolishment of the State Security Law and State Security Court last February. The following summarises one f the key issues being discussed in Bahrain, and it relates to “Constitutional Amendments”.The “National Action Charter” that was voted on by the people of Bahrain on 14 and 15 February 2001 paved the way for changing the 1973 Constitution with regard to two points. The first point relates to the changing of the single-chamber parliament to a bicameral parliamentary system, with a lower chamber elected by the people and the upper chamber appointed by the ruler. The second point relates to the changing of Emirate system into a Kingdom.Soon after the 98.4% “yes” vote, the Amir appointed two committees, one of them was charged with proposing amendments to the 1973 Constitution. However, there is a clear violation of the 1973 Constitution Article 104 as well as the promises made by the Amir prior to voting last February. The Amir had re-affirmed that the Constitution will not be violated and that any changes will be processed through the prescribed due process. He also confirmed that the Constitution would be the overriding document when compared to the National Action Charter.This means that any changes proposed by the secretive committee appointed by the government, and later on implemented by a yet-unknown method is a cause for concern.     In a seminar was organised at Bori Village Community Centre (Matam) on 28 August and addressed by Sheikh Abdul Nabi Al-Durazi and Dr. Mansoor Al-Jamri, the point was debated in details. A proposal was presented during the seminar calling on the government to look closely at the problem  so that the 1973 Constitution is not violated. The proposal may be summarised as follows:That the Amir calls for the election of a 40-member National Assembly in accordance with the unchanged 1973 Constitution. According to the Constitution, 14 ministers can also join the National Assembly as ex-officio members, hence a total of 54 members. The election must be held in accordance with the present law prescribing the constituencies. The latter could partially be amended to add the new residential areas of Bahrain and to allow women to vote. The law was initially flawed on this point as it banned women in 1973, while in fact the Constitution did not.The National Assembly could then appoint a committee of, say, seven people, from amongst its members. The committee may include 2 ministers and may include international legal experts. However, only members of the National Assembly must be allowed to vote on amendments.After the completion of discussions, the proposed amendments must then be presented to the National Assembly and the latter can pass them by two-thirds majority in accordance with Article 104 of the Constitution.Following on from this, the Amir can dissolve the parliament according to Article 65, which grants the Amir the right to dissolve the parliament and to call for fresh elections within 2 months.  Hence, new elections can take place according to the partially amended Constitution within two months of the dissolution and the bicameral system can then be established.It must also be emphasised that the upper chamber must be for review only and it can not legislate. This had been confirmed by the Amir last February. Also, the ministers must not be part of the elected lower chamber, as the new system will have an appointed upper one. It is also hoped that the upper chamber should not exceed 20 members.All these critical matters must be handled by the elected representatives of the people and must not be debated and processed in camera as per the current practice. This means that Bahrainis should be allowed to vote for the National Assembly as soon as possibly, possibly in 6-12 months time, rather than wait until 2004 as envisaged by the current programme.This constitutional process can secure the future stability of Bahrain, as it will prevent any party from claiming the illegitimacy of changes made in secret committees.The above proposal has been presented to the government through various channels and it is hoped that a positive response would be received. The above proposal affirms that all parties in Bahrain are wishing to continue working together through the framework of the Constitution, and hence establishing the principle of “rule of law”.Bahrain Freedom Movement4 September 2001Tel/Fax: +44 207 278 9089

KUWAIT CITY, Sep 3, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — Kuwait and Bahrain on Monday signed two agreements here respectively on the forming of a joint committee and on diplomatic and consular cooperation.

Visiting Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Muhammad Bin Mubarak Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, who signed the deals on behalf of his country, said after the signing ceremony that the agreements reflect both countries’ desire to enhance relations to a higher level.

According to Sheikh Muhammad, who arrived earlier Monday for a day-long visit, the joint committee will be in charge of coordinating political, economic and cultural exchanges between the two Gulf states.

“We are taking another step on the path of cooperation and integration,” he said.

Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah also said that the agreements will certainly promote cooperation in many fields.

Kuwait and Bahrain are closely bound economically with high-volume trade.

In addition, both of them are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional political and economic alliance established in 1981, which also groups Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Kuwait Welcomes Visit by Bahraini FM KUWAIT CITY, Sep 2, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — The Kuwaiti foreign minister on Sunday welcomed the upcoming visit by his Bahraini counterpart and hailed the deep-rooted bilateral relations, Kuwait’s official KUNA news agency reported. Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, also the first deputy prime minister, said that the visit by Sheikh Muhammad Bin Mubarak Bin Hamad al-Khalifa, who will arrive here on Monday for a day-long visit, will further boost the “strong and historic” relations in all fields. Sheikh Sabah added that the Bahraini foreign minister will deliver a letter from the Bahraini emir to the Kuwaiti emir tackling means of enhancing the bilateral ties. During Sheikh Muhammad’s visit, both sides will sign an agreement to establish a joint supreme committee, to be in charge of bilateral political and economic issues. Kuwait and Bahrain are closely bound economically. In addition to high-volume trade, Kuwait Stock Exchange is also linked up with Bahrain Stock Market under an accord signed in 1997 on promoting cooperation. The two Arab countries are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional political and economic alliance established in 1981, which also groups Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 

2 September 2001 (Bahrain: Centre of Excellence for Islamic Banking)

RIYADH — Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Sudan are expected to sign an agreement on the establishment of the first international Islamic capital market late this month. President of the Islamic Development Bank Ahmad Mohammad Ali has said that the agreement is aimed at establishing an institution to develop and regulate the Islamic capital market.

KUWAIT CITY, Sep 1, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) — The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will discuss Mideast issues during a two-day ministerial council meeting, to be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on September 7-8, Kuwait’s official KUNA news agency reported on Saturday.The Gulf ministers will discuss ways of putting an end to Israel’s aggressions against the Palestinian people and institutions, an informed source was quoted by KUNA as saying.The officials will also call for extending financial assistance to the Palestinian National Authority to help it confront Israel’s siege, added the source.In addition, the ministerial council will touch on the situation in Iraq and the fate of more than 600 Kuwaitis and nationals of third countries, who Kuwait says are held in Iraq, the source said.The economy and trade between the six Gulf states will also be high on the agenda of the meeting.

The GCC, a regional political and economic alliance established in 1981, groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

1 Sep 2001

ANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — The Bahrain Telecommunications Co., or Batelco, on Saturday reduced tariffs by up to 33 percent on international calls to 106 countries.The reduction, the company’s sixth in five years, applies to calls made from any communication apparatus, including fixed phone lines, mobile phones, pay phones or fax machines, Batelco said in a press release.The reduction, ranging from two to 33 percent, will also apply during both peak and off-peak periods.The cuts followed talks with regional and international telecommunication companies to introduce lower “per-minute” calling rates, the company said.

Batelco, which has a monopoly, is 20 percent owned by Britain’s Cable and Wireless and 36 percent by the government. The remaining shares are listed on the Bahrain Stock Exchange.

29 August 2001

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Egypt has denied that it has fully accepted a compensation offer for Egyptian victims of Gulf Air Flight 072, which crashed off Bahrain’s coast a year ago, a government official said Wednesday.Mustafa Tag-Eldeen, chairman of an Egyptian Cabinet committee set up to handle the compensation issue, said the Egyptian government “denies that all matters have been resolved regarding the compensation for the families of Egyptian victims.”Last week, a Gulf Air spokeswoman told The Associated Press that the matter was settled and the Egyptian families’ compensation payment was in progress.Officials for the Bahrain-based airline were not available for comment Wednesday.Tag-Eldeen said the parties had agreed to dlrs 130,000 compensation for families of victims aged 18-years and over at the time of the crash.But the committee has rejected the airline’s offer of dlrs 75,000 for victims aged under 18-years. The matter is now subject to international arbitration.”Gulf Air is morally, as well as legally, wrong to discriminate among passengers that were killed … on grounds of age, or indeed, on any other basis,” Tag El-Deen said. International liability laws in event of accidents refer to “passengers” without regard to race, sex, nationality or age, he said.The airline earlier declined to say if the same compensation would be paid to each of the 12 nationalities in the crash.Sixty-four Egyptians were among the 143 victims on board the airline’s Airbus A320 aircraft that crashed Aug. 23, 2000. Last May, an Egyptian newspaper accused Gulf Air of offering Egyptians less compensation compared to other nationalities.Gulf Air is owned equally by the governments of Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the emirate of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.


CAIRO, Egypt (Reuters) 29 Aug – Egypt on Wednesday denied a Gulf Air statement that it had reached a compensation settlement with the airline on behalf of 67 Egyptian passengers killed in a Gulf Air crash last year.A government statement said no final settlement had been reached between the ministerial committee representing the victims’ families and the airline. It said only a partial deal had been concluded.”(The committee) denies that all matters have been resolved regarding compensation for the families of Egyptian victims of the crash of Gulf Air Flight 072,” the statement said, adding that a “limited agreement” had been reached.Gulf Air had stated in May that it had agreed with its insurers to pay $125,000 in compensation for each adult and $75,000 for each child killed in the August 2000 crash.A main point of contention for the committee is the smaller compensation sums for victims under the age of 18. Twenty-seven of the Egyptian victims were children.”Gulf Air is morally as well as legally wrong to discriminate amongst passengers that were killed … on grounds of age or indeed on any other basis,” the statement said.

The Gulf Air Airbus A320 plunged into shallow waters of Bahrain airport in August 2000 killing 143 people on board.

Bahrain: A nation-state in the makingEvery year in August two occasions are marked by Bahraini political forces. The first one relates to the end of British control on 15 August (in 1971) and the second one relates to the dissolution of the National Assembly on 26 August (in 1975). The Bahraini sociologist, Dr. Abdul Hadi Khalaf, had described the process of nation-building in Bahrain as an “unfinished business”. In his book issued in 2000 (ISBN 91-7267-004-5), he asserts that contentious politics have oscillated between two grand strategic options, the ethnic-sectarian and the national. He describes how the intertwining relationship between the ruling family and the State has tended to prefer the existence of competing ethnic-sectarian identities over a national one.Another major contribution to the understanding of Bahraini politics was presented by Emile Nakhleh in his book published in 1976 (ISBN 0-669-00454-5). He asserts that Bahrain is more a city-state than a nation-state, where the reigns of government are tightly held in the hands of the ruling family, which makes decisions on every major issue, with minimal popular input into the decision-making process.The move towards a limited popular participating in the early 1970s was aborted after a short-lived experiment. The National Assembly, which was elected on 7 December 1973, following the enactment of the 1973 Constitution served for less than two years. The government had blamed the parliamentarians for obstructing the process of development. The dissolution of parliament was preceded by the unconstitutional imposition of a State Security Law that was to continue from the day the parliament was dissolved until 18 February 2001.Between August 1975 and February 2001, Bahrain was run extra-constitutionally. The constitutional crisis developed into sporadic disturbances that culminated in the 1994 uprising, which continued until 1999, when the new Amir, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa took over in March of that year.On 14 and 15 February, the people of Bahrain endorsed a proposed National Charter that would pave the way for the restoration of the constitutional process by 2004. In the interim, Bahrain is passing through a critical transitional period. Hopes and fears rise-up and calm-sown with every move and announcement made by the Amir. The opposition faced a new environment with a new set of parameters governing the relationship of the ruler with the ruled. Within the past six months, many steps were taken to address social and economic problems. The main characteristic of these steps are their discretionary nature.Many of the remedial actions were welcomed by the people and the opposition. However, the challenge remains to be whether Bahrainis will be able to build a nation that transcends all ethnic and sectarian identities. For this to happen, the process needs to be less discretionary, with more transparency and involvement of constitutional institutions that must be set-up on sounder basis to avoid the pitfalls of the past. All Bahrainis must play their positive parts to assist in the nation-building process.

Bahrain Freedom Movement

September 2001

Tel/Fax: +44 207 278 9089

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