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.
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) 29 Aug– Gulf Air has launched a new flight operations and control system to improve its services, the airline said Wednesday. The upgraded system will provide aircraft arrival information, comprehensive passenger data and reduce the impact of flight delays, the airline said in a press release. Gulf Air recently announced plans to rationalize routes and destinations and reduce the size of its fleet next year restore profitability and improve efficiency. The Bahrain-based airline operates 30 aircraft — nine Boeing-767s, five Airbus A340s, 12 Airbus A320s and four Airbus A330s. They fly to about 54 destinations worldwide. In May, equal owner states Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates injected 60 million dinars (dlrs 159 million) to help the airline meet operating costs for 2001 and cover dlrs 98 million losses that incurred last year.
By Abbas Salman MANAMA, Aug 26 (Reuters) – Bahrain plans to issue Islamic leasing bonds worth $100 million next week as the island state struggles to win Islamic states’ backing to host an Islamic money market, the Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA) said on Sunday. BMA, the central bank, said in a statement the bonds, called the Islamic Leasing Sukuk (ILS), would be the first issued by any central bank in the area. “This is a step to further develop the status of Bahrain as an international Islamic financial centre, and also for the purpose of offering new investment opportunities to absorb the excess liquidity of Islamic financial institutions,” it said. BMA said the five-year bonds would be offered on September 3 with an annual rental return of 5.25 percent to be paid every six months — in March and September. The minimum subscription is $10,000. All commercial banks and financial houses operating in Bahrain, the Gulf’s financial and banking hub, are eligible to subscribe to the Sukuk. Institutional and individual investors can also participate through banks, the statement said. “The Sukuk are guaranteed directly and unconditionally by the government of the state of Bahrain. They can be traded, at the prevailing market prices, over-the-counter through any local commercial bank in Bahrain…,” the statement said. “The main objective of this issue is to address the requirements and needs of Islamic financial institutions for medium and long-term investment opportunities, currently limited to those institutions,” it added. Bahrain has been issuing Islamic government bills worth $25 million on a monthly basis since June to meet the needs of Islamic banks and financial houses for short-term liquidity, and boost efforts by Islamic states to create an Islamic financial market. Bankers say that one of the major problems facing around 200 Islamic banks and financial institutions serving 1.2 billion Muslims globally is the lack of means to manage their day-to-day liquidity requirements. Islamic banks do not pay or charge interest — the core of Western banking system — as it is considered by many Muslims as usury. Money is made instead by using a system of profit sharing from returns on approved investments. Malaysia and Bahrain are discussing which of the two countries would host the proposed International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM). “We are still reviewing the feasibility study and the laws governing the market,” a BMA official told Reuteres on Sunday. More than 100 banks and financial institutions operate from Bahrain, including 47 offshore banking units, 20 commercial banks and 18 Islamic financial houses.
Bahrain said last month it planned to establish a $50 million liquidity management centre (LMC), and had appointed Bahrain-based ERNST and Young as financial adviser for the first LMC in an Islamic state.
Gulf Daily News, 25 August 2001
Dr. Al-Jamri: Free speech ‘vital’ to protect human rights Laws governing freedom of expression should be relaxed as far as possible in order to protect human rights, a public gathering was told last night. London-based Dr Mansour Al Jamri said freedom of speech was a fundamental human right and there were few legitimate reasons for restricting it. “Every society should have lines that should not be crossed but there should be as few of these lines as possible,” he said. “There should be tolerance of different people and respect for their views and opinions. “Everyone should have the right to express their views and no-one should interfere except when it is absolutely necessary.” Mr Al Jamri cited respect for religion as one of the lines that shouldn’t be crossed but added that even here there should be a balance. “Afghanistan, for example, places unreasonable restrictions on people in the name of religion. A lot of what they are doing is in fact very much against Islamic teachings. “Religion is not meant to drag people back into the dark ages,” said Mr Al Jamri. He was speaking at a seminar on Islam and Human Rights at the Al Oruba Club. The event, which was organised by the Bahrain Human Rights Society, was attended by over 400 people. Mr Al Jamri, who is an engineer by profession, spoke about Western and Eastern theoretical views of human rights. He hailed the changes currently taking place in Bahrain, adding that history would look favourably upon them. Mr Al Jamri also proposed that the society should present annual awards to people who had contributed positively towards the human rights movement. Hurt He said a country’s standing in the international community would be hurt if it had a negative human rights record. “Some countries use the human rights issue as a weapon to further their own political agendas,” he continued. “This politicising of human rights is not good for those suffering from human rights abuses and for those inflicting them. “Israel is now facing a public relations problem because of its abuse of the Palestinians. These days Israel is receiving more negative publicity than the Palestinians.”
Bahrain: A nation-state in the making Every 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 23 August 2001 Tel/Fax: +44 207 278 9089
MANAMA, Aug 22 (Reuters) – Bahrain said on Wednesday it was setting up a women’s council to help the government draw up policies on women’s issues in the Gulf Arab state. A decree issued by the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said the council, whose 14 members will be appointed by him, would be headed by his wife Sheikha Sabika bint Ibrahim al-Khalifa, who has been active on women and welfare issues. The council has the right to propose non-binding amendments to legislation that tackles women issues, according to the official Gulf News Agency (GNA). Sheikh Hamad has pardoned political prisoners and launched reforms calling for setting up an elected parliament alongside an existing appointed consultative assembly.
In a rare such move in the conservative Muslim Gulf Arab region, women in Bahrain were allowed to take part in a February referendum in which a reform charter was approved.
By Abbas Salman MANAMA, Aug 22 (Reuters) – Political stability and higher oil revenues have spurred a construction boom in Bahrain after years of stagnation, officials and economists said on Wednesday. They said the government and the private sector planned to pour billions of dollars into tourism, infrastructure and housing projects across the tiny Gulf Arab island state over the next few years. “The government is spending more on construction projects because of high oil prices,” said Finance Ministry official Mahmoud al-Khoohaji. He said Gulf Arab investors planned to build three tourist projects worth around $2 billion, taking advantage of the social freedom and political stability in Bahrain following landmark reforms by Emir Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. The island’s proximity to Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s wealthiest country, makes it a popular destination for thousands of Saudis lured by its more permissive society. A government body chaired by Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa has been set up to oversee construction and investments. Bahrain has recently awarded several projects to local and international firms, including a $300 million deal to France’s Alstom Power (ALSO.PA) to build a 700 megawatt power station. It also plans to modernise its ageing oil refinery at a cost of around $1 billion, and expand the production capacity of the mainly state-owned Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) at a cost of $1.7 billion. Economists say the projects are part of an ambitious plan unveiled by the government in June to spend 2.0 billion dinars ($5.31 billion) on housing and infrastructure projects over the next few years. The government gave no time frame. “It’s part of a long-term programme to boost the standard of living because Bahrain, with limited resources, cannot afford to spend such huge money in a couple of years,” said economist Jasim Hussain Ali. Bahrain, the region’s financial hub, exports about 140,000 barrels per day (bpd). It also imports 200,000 bpd of Saudi crude for refining, most of which is exported. Economists forecast Bahrain’s oil income in 2001 to reach more than $1.0 billion, maintaining last year’s high revenues. It also gets around $100 million in annual grants mainly from rich neighbours United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It also receives soft loans from Gulf-based funds to finance infrastructure projects. Analysts say that political stability since the emir took office in 1999 on the death of his father, was encouraging the private sector to invest in construction. Sheikh Hamad has initiated landmark reforms after four years of political unrest by members of majority Shi’ite Muslim community which ended in 1998. “Business has started to pick up because of the construction projects by the housing ministry. We see a rise of up to 20 percent,” one contractor told Reuters. The U.S. Navy also plans to build some 700 housing units costing around $20 million to tighten security for the U.S. personnel and pave the way to boost their number, one economist said. Bahrain is the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Gulf Air has reached a settlement and has begun compensating the Egyptian families of the airline’s Flight 072, which crashed off the coast of Bahrain last August, the airline’s spokeswoman said Wednesday. “The matter is settled and their (Egyptian families) compensation payment is in progress now,” the Bahrain-based airline’s spokeswoman told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Sixty-four Egyptians were among the 143 victims on board the airline’s Airbus A320 aircraft. Last May, an Egyptian newspaper accused Gulf Air of offering Egyptians less compensation compared to other nationalities, a charge the airline denied. The agreement was reached in June following negotiations between the airline and a high-level committee headed by Egyptian Prime Minister Atif Obaid. Compensation of dlrs 130,000 for adults, dlrs 75,000 for under 18 and dlrs 30,000 for children under seven will be awarded to the Egyptian families and include the amount they had been awarded earlier, the spokeswoman said. Gulf Air had previously offered dlrs 125,000 for the families of adults killed. The airline declined to say if the same compensation would be paid to each of the 12 nationalities in the crash. Egypt’s Ambassador to Bahrain, Mahmoud Abdel Jawad, confirmed a final compensation agreement had been reached. He had no further details. Gulf Air is owned equally by the governments of Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the emirate of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Gulf Daily News (22 Aug 2001)
Pirates caught in sea chase By KHALID ALKHARRAZ MANAMA: Qatari Coastguards yesterday reportedly captured three pirates, following a series of attacks on fishermen. Bahraini fishermen were rejoicing following the news, brought back to them by other Bahraini dhow owners who were fishing at the Rwais area at the time of the capture. Eye-witnesses said the Qatari Coastguard chased the armed robbers, who have been terrorising prime fishing areas near the Bahraini-Qatari marine border, as they were trying to raid two Qatari fishing dhows. The crewmen who witnessed the incident were last night telling fishermen at the Muharraq jetty how the Coastguard chased and captured the pirates at Rwais, about 30 nautical miles southeast of Muharraq. Qatari fishermen, contacted by the GDN last night, confirmed the news. They also joined the Bahraini fishermen in their call for more co-operation between the Bahraini and Qatari Coastguard authorities to capture the other pirates. However, both the Bahraini and Qatari Coastguards were unavailable for comment. Meanwhile, one of Bahraini fisherman Waheed Rashid Al Dosari’s dhows was also attacked by raiders on Monday. The attack is the third of its type on one of his dhows. Until last night, Mr Al Dosari, who was out fishing in another area, was unaware of the attack. His dhow’s captain Gayshankar Naran said it was not possible to contact him because his mobile phone was out of range. Mr Naran, who was caught up in two previous attacks and was injured in one, said the pirates looked different than those who attacked them the previous times. “This time two of them were in their mid-40s while the other two were in their late 20s,” he said. Mr Naran said he and the remaining four crewmen were stopped by the pirates, who attack from a speedboat, at 9.30am on Monday, at Umm Al Ershan area, about 51 nautical miles, northeast of Muharraq. “As soon as they jumped on our dhow, they shoved us into the haul, where we were left for about three hours. “When it got too hot inside, we lifted the lid to discover that nobody was steering the dhow and that the pirates had left.” In the time they were in the haul, Mr Naran said the raiders emptied 10 40kg coolers filled with fish into their speed boats and took five coolers with them. The shaken crew were left to limp back to Bahrain, after the pirates had stole navigational and other equipment from the dhow. Another Qatari dhow was also attacked by pirates on Monday in Al Rwais area.
The owner, who wished not to be named, told the GDN about how the raiders opened fire on his dhow, when his crewmen refused to stop for them. He was not there when the attack happened. One of his Indian crewmen, aged 36, was hit with a hammer on his head and was taken to hospital once ashore. He was discharged last night. Another of his crewmen was beaten. The owner says he filed a complaint with the Qatari coastguard about the attack.
UN: Implementation of Mitchell recommendations …
Aug 21, 2001 (UN): JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said Israel’s aggressive policies were clear to all as the media showed them day and night. That country’s aggressive practices inevitably attracted Security Council attention, since Israel’s methodical actions threatened to erode all agreements made on the Middle East so far.
He said today was a special and dangerous situation that required the international community, specifically the Security Council, to assume responsibilities under the Charter. The Council was not expected to deliver miracles, he stressed, just be an impartial judge and have credibility. He therefore hoped that the Council would restore its credibility, play its role and cast off the hesitancy and inertia it had been demonstrating for the longest while. As the author of resolutions 242 and 338, he concluded, he felt that the establishment of a just and lasting settlement in the Middle East was in urgent need of implementation by the Council.
ALSTOM RECEIVES ORDER
Aug 21, 2001 (PR Newswire Europe via COMTEX) — ALSTOM has been awarded orders for three new combined cycle power plants at Perlis in Malaysia, at Al Hidd in Bahrain, and at Kwinana in Australia. The projects involve a total of seven GT13E2 gas turbines and have a combined value of approximately 820 million Euros. The orders are for the turnkey supply of ALSTOM’s KA13E2 Combined Cycle Power Plants. The GT13E2 gas turbine is a proven, high reliability, machine with low environmental emissions, utilising the unique EV (EnVironmental) burner system. The GT13E2 fleet of over 60 operating units has achieved more than 1,000,000 fired hours.
Alexis Fries, President of the Power Sector of ALSTOM, commented: “We are pleased that these customers have chosen ALSTOM turbines. These three orders are the results of the particular efforts to promote our mid-range turbines through our extensive international sales network.”
Al Hidd, Bahrain:
The Ministry of Electricity & Water of the State of Bahrain has awarded a letter of intent to ALSTOM for a turnkey contract, valued at over 350 million Euros, for a 630 MW KA13E2 combined-cycle power plant. This follows the Al Hidd I Simple Cycle Desalination Plant and will be located at Al Hidd in the State of Bahrain. ALSTOM will supply three GT13E2 gas turbines and a steam turbine that will be used for a combination of desalination and power supply. ALSTOM will be responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction of the plant, which is scheduled to commence initial operation by June 2002.
Arab states slow in paying funds to support Palestinians
By WARD PINCUS- 18 August 2001 DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Arab states have paid less than half the dlrs 1 billion they pledged at a summit last October to support the Palestinian uprising, an Islamic Development Bank official said Saturday. The original pledge was cut to dlrs 693 million after the contributions Arab governments agreed to make after the two-day summit on Israeli-Palestinian violence in Cairo, Egypt, fell some dlrs 307 million short. So far 12 participating Arab nations have deposited only dlrs 442.5 million, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Wealthy oil producers Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are among those who have not fulfilled their pledges, the official said. There is no date by which countries must meet their financial obligations, he added. The moneys are deposited into two accounts — the Al Aqsa and the Intefadeh funds — to support the Palestinian Authority’s operations and pay for infrastructure and community projects within the Palestinian territories. The Jiddah-based bank manages the accounts. Saudi Arabia has paid dlrs 210 million of dlrs 250 million it pledged, while Kuwait and the U.A.E. have each given only dlrs 57.5 million of their respective dlrs 150 million pledges. Egypt has paid only dlrs 7.5 million, or 25 percent, of the dlrs 30 million it offered — less than one of the poorest Arab nations, Yemen, which has handed over dlrs 8 million of its dlrs 10 million commitment. Qatar, Algeria, Oman, Syria and Bahrain have paid their full commitments totaling dlrs 100 million. Jordan has come good with three-quarters of its dlrs 2 million pledge and Sudan has paid half its dlrs 1 million commitment. Of the dlrs 442.5 million total paid in to the two accounts to date, dlrs 240 million has been spent, the official said. The Palestinian Authority has received dlrs 225 million for its budget, while dlrs 15 million of an allocated dlrs 160 million has gone to development projects, he said. The difference between what the bank has received and the dlrs 240 million amount distributed arises because moneys destined for development projects are paid out once the projects are completed, he said.
Ten months of Israeli-Palestinian violence has rocked the Palestinian economy, as regular blockades keep thousands of Palestinian laborers from traveling to Israel for their jobs.
“30 years after disengagement: The changing role of Britain in the Gulf” By Sir Cyril Townsend Director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) Date: Thursday 16 August 2001 (Intervention delivered at the Gulf Cultural Club to mark the 30th anniversary of Bahrain’ independence) In broad terms CAABU is the pro-Arab political organisation in the United Kingdom. We claim to cover the water front and deal with the 21 Arab countries. I am told there are 22 but Palestine is not yet recognised as state. We spend approximately40 percent of our time dealing with the Palestinian problem which I am not going to go into in any great detail to start with this evening.
Roughly 30% of our time in recent years has been on Iraq. We are very much involved these days with the Arab community in the UK. We were not when we started 30 years ago. I have two vice-chairmen both of whom are Arabs and we have a number of Arabs on the executive committee and it is a clear aim and objective to encourage Arabs to come and join CAABU and to take part. We have not doubt at all that we are much stronger because we are a British-Arab organisation dealing with British and Arab affairs. I will give you an example of how we use that basis. We are running short of funds so we are planning visits to the Gulf to raise money. And it will be very much British Arabs, one of our vice chairmen going to see Arabs in the Gulf to try and get some support for what we think. We think our activities are enormously strengthened as we are trying to represent the aspirations of the Arab community in the United Kingdom.
I must say that we are aware that the Arab impact on British politics at the moment is severely limited. We think that ought to change. The Jewish community is shrinking – its now below 300,000. But the Arab community is increasing. It is now roughly half a million. We are most active in Whitehall and Westminster. And even though we are small over the years, by good networking, by targeting certain key individuals, for example the foreign office ministers and officials, key members of parliament and the European parliament, we really can make some impact.
I am now going to try and tackle this enormous subject which has been dangled in front of me. It is a great pleasure to talk about it. I was delighted to learn about your organisation. I get asked to talk about Palestine frequently at universities so I welcome your invitation to talk about Britain and the Gulf. You gave me a bit of a challenge with the 30 years.
I am going to try and go one better by reminding you all that the sultanate of Muscat and Oman became a protectorate of Great Britain back in 1798 so we have been around in your neck of the woods for a long time.
You mentioned Mr Chairman, the 1820 agreement between Britain and the Gulf sheikhs aimed at combating piracy. I would make the point, and I think the younger generation need to be reminded of this, that Britain on the whole did not go around looking for new territories to conquer and govern in the last two centuries. We have been trying to resist taking on responsibilities for new territories to govern. The classic example is Fiji, in the Pacific. The inhabitants begged us to make Queen Victoria come and rule over them. The politicians of the day realised the costs and implications involved and resisted stoutly for several years before finally agreeing. If you look at the history of India we started off with a bit for commercial purposes and then we said we will stabilise this bit but we will never get real peace until we control the next bit. And so it went on. It was not that we had this grandiose idea that we would take over this vast sub continent and run it from Whitehall. That was not the concept.
And this leads me to talk about a bit of a hero who will call Curzon, but I am aware of his faults. He was the most successful viceroy of India. And I think you will know that our led into the Gulf was India for safeguarding the shipping route to India. Oil had not been discovered. We were not after the desert. We wanted to have calling stations, we wanted to control the sea routes. I am going to read an extract from David Gillmore’s book (he was Lord Gillmore’s son) about Lord Curzon. Chapter 18 is about the Gulf. I would like to read just a little bit. “In may 1901 the viceroy Lord Curzon, has proposed a tour of the Persian Gulf to create an impression of Britain’s influence and interest in the area. The plan was vetoes by the prime minister of the time (Lansdown) who thought it might provoke retaliation by other powers at that time when Britain was still tied up inside Africa. Two years later, after the Foreign Secretary asserted Britain’s paramount position in the Gulf Curzon tried again, suggesting it was an opportune moment to show the flag. Although the cabinet was apprehensive, whenever the viceroy suggested a course of action outside India’s border he could find no direct reason to oppose it. In August 1903 Curzon therefore wrote to the admirals running the East India squadron, asking him to bring his flagship with as many vessels as he could muster as a visible demonstration of Britain’s dominance of the waters of the Gulf. On November 16th the Curzon’s embarked on the Harding mission – Karachi. They steamed towards Muscat accompanied by two telegraph and despatch boats, a naval escort of four ships. Two days later they entered Muscat to the sound of artillery. Percy Cox, who later became a legendary figure in Anglo-Arab history had been selected four years earlier to carry out Curzon’s policy in the Gulf. He was resident in Muscat. The sultan had become fervently pro-British. Frances claim of equal influence looked ridiculous. After a series of official visits Curzon asserted Britain’s determination to maintain her paramouncy in the region and the flotia set off back up the Gulf. Both Arabs and British officials in full dress had to be conveyed by boat through a high sea. Most of the people felt sea sick but only one of the sheikhs retainers fell overboard. Curzon told the sheikhs that Britain had come to their waters before any other power in modern times, that she had found strife and had created order, that she had protected the inhabitants of their shores and opened their seas to the ships of all nations. In the process Britain had neither seized their territory nor destroyed their independence and she would not now abandon them. The peace of these waters must still be maintained and your independence will be upheld and the influence of the British government must remain supreme”.
That gives you the impression of how Lord Curzon conducted his foreign policy as viceroy of India. It illustrates the sort of relationship we had with the Gulf at that time and the reasons for that relationship. It is time to move with rapid speed forward and I am going to select the date of 1968. It was the year I came out of the British army and I went to work for a young, struggling, ambitious politician called Sir Edward Heath who was the leader of the opposition at that stage. Douglas Herd was his principal secretary and I was the office dogs body arranging Ted Heaths visits abroad. I remember one of the first visits he made abroad as Leader of the Opposition was to the Gulf. I reflect that British politicians today, especially opposition politicians do not rush to the Gulf to increase their standing with the electorate of the United Kingdom.
The Conservative Party used to pride itself on its relations with the Gulf. Julian Amery, Richard Luce, Anthony Buck are the names which come to mind. Julian Amery was a wealthy and senior politician and cabinet minister and he used to stay with sheikhs in the region who were his friends. He was also quite keen on Israel, but that was another matter. Then he would come back and address the Conservative Foreign Affairs Committee and provide quite colourful accounts of what happened. Richard Luce does not need any introduction. His father was Sir William Luce and he played such a big part in the affairs of the United Arab Emirates.
The big issue at the time was should Britain withdraw from east of Suez or not. And it was a bit of an argument. The empire had changed into the commonwealth and Europe was looming large. Churchill and Edin wanted to create Europe as a means of uniting Europe and preventing wars in Europe. The speed of the withdraw was the critical issue and the Labour government made an appalling mess of it. They started off with perfectly sensible proposals. They realised they would have to reduce their presence in the gulf and beyond and come back to the European base but they did not want to be stampeded in that process.
The the treasury looked at the books, our economy was fragile and the chancellor of the exchequer said that is it chaps, we have to buck out, let us get on with it. The way they got off was disgraceful. The argument was about recognition of the fact that the United Kingdom was not running an empire. It was a member of the commonwealth. We were a middle rank nuclear power with considerable economic difficulties.
Fast forward to today. Let me plunge in under the heading of political. Hold your seats, I am not in government and I can say what I like. Not because I want to offend but I think on these occasions I don’t think a bit of truth will hurt. I do not want to offend anyone.
Leaving aside Iraq and Iran, I would say that the United Kingdom has close relationships with the Gulf states. I am critical of the United Kingdom because I think that the tendency to use up our credit causes us to take these links for granted. I think this is particularly true of the business community. We have been trading there for a long time, we know all about it is the attitude. But there is a need for greater participation. It is not my job to force the Westminster political model down the throats of Arab states but I think the Gulf states would be wise to follow Britain rather than France – evolution rather than revolution. The best way of avoiding revolution is to encourage wider participation by the local communities, bearing in mind that those local communities are much better educated than they were in Curzon’s time, when just a handful of people in the states he went to could read and write. Human rights is a subject of growing importance throughout the world. I do not accept that human rights are an entirely Western concept. I am on the side of the tortured not the torturer. I do not apologise for that – I hope you are too. Every member of the United Nations and there are 188 of them signed up to the declaration of human rights. You can’t say we are members of the United Nations but we are independent countries and we do not want to know about human rights. That is certainly not the way of the world worked when the UN was set up or is about to start working. I am a little concerned and I think I am right in saying that not a single Arab state has yet ratified the court of human rights convention. Not one Arab state has signed up to it. This is the convention on establishing the court of human rights. Watch out because if you believe that Sharon is a war criminal because of what he did in Sabra and Chatilla some journalist is going to say wait, you have not even accepted the European Court on Human Rights. How can you say all the Israelis should be put in the dock with Milosevic but we are not going to take part in the courts. I am not going to go into the role of women in great detail but you have obviously been watching what has been happening in Kuwait. That country gained enormously by encouraging the greater participation of women in the diwan of the nation. Some years ago I was in Saudi Arabia and the British ambassador had a reception for the vice-chancellor in Riyadh – a crucial role for a woman. And she was not allowed to drive to work in her car. I find that quite incomprehensible. You can trust the higher education of your selected women to this lady but she is not allowed to drive to work. I think that suggests that something needs to be done. My heading was political but I would just say that the monarchy and the royal family in the United Kingdom have played quite a critical part in Britain’s relations with the Gulf which is interesting. The royal family does not go to Israel. The queen and Prince Charles have not made an official visit to Israel and quite a lot of lobbying goes on by the Israeli embassy in London to get them to go there and they are quite cross they have not succeeded. I am pleased to say there have been numerous ministerial visits under the new Labour government. Alan Wilson, when he was minister of state visited Bahrain in heading the British delegation to the EU-GCC meeting there. Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence was in Bahrain in May. He made it known that the European Union has commended Bahrain for its recent democratic reforms. An official spokesman said recently :”Europe has monitored with great interest and support the great democratic process in Bahrain which might be turned into an outstanding example which can be emulated by other developing countries as a way out of their political chronic political crises. That is quite strong. I would not use the word chronic political crisis but I do believe that many of the Gulf states do face a political crisis. I remember conferences on the Gulf including a week spent at the Foreign Office conference at Wilton Park in Sussex and many of the Gulf speakers who attended that conference spoke about the political crisis in their particular countries. We are talking about the young population. I am told that about half the population of the Gulf states is under 15. There is a shortage of jobs for highly educated young men and women with high expectations. The cost of defence, housing, health education – all the problems we know about in Britain – are hitting those states. And they ask when oil has run out how are we going to pay for our state education system, free health etc. There are so many problems. I think there is a danger resulting from some of the leadership in the Gulf states. Tony Blair is 48. He has been prime minister for four years. I can’t remember the age of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia but he is an old man and you are going to get old men handing over power to old men. I am just an observer the scene. The age range of the leadership in Western countries is coming down. It is good due to the pressure of public life which is enormous compared to the time of Curzon, Churchill and the likes of Gladstone. You have to attend this and that summit conference, catching up on what has been published on the internet. A younger leadership is going to be required. I will move on to the general subject of defence. I was a strong supporter of the Damascus Agreement. You will remember that after the Gulf war there was the six plus two arrangement – six Gulf states plus Syria and Egypt. They were to come together to improve the defence of the region and I supported this concept. It seemed a very sensible idea but it did not work. I do not think people are rushing around talking about the Damascus Agreement at the moment. It could be because of the lack of trust of Syria and Egypt. I am an pan-Arabist and I would like to see the Arab world taking greater responsibility for itself and not relying on the Americans or the British or the French. I am disappointed in the GCC in defence terms. Before I came to you I was pleased to learn that the United Kingdom is helping the Kuwaiti government to set up and assist in running a joint command and staff college to train and educate senior officers who come to the college from GCC states. There is more to be done in co-ordinating the GCC countries in terms of defence procurement. The Gulf forces are small – how do you make them more effective. By giving them effective weapons systems. I would like the GCC states to say we are not all going to go our separate ways – common defence is in our interests. It is fine we have a college educating senior officers, but are all the naval officers trained. What about pilots? When it comes to joint leadership of the Gulf forces, have you got a chief of staff. Of the Gulf forces. If you have an enemy out there make your procurement tighter and get better co-ordination and leadership of the forces. There was one year when Qatar withdrew from military exercises under the previous regime. But observers like myself pointed out this is not going to help the GCC defence effort. I have to make it clear that the United Kingdom is aware of its defence responsibilities in the Gulf. When the I was still serving in the army and Paddy Ashdown was a young royal marine officer just after the Britain Kuwaiti agreement of 1899 was terminated Iraq threatened Kuwait The royal marines were despatched at extremely short notice. It was a shambles and I drew attention to the fact that we had extremely few soldiers to guard Kuwait against the potential Iraqi threat. We have a significant military presence in the Gulf due to the Iraqi situation I would suggest that that presence is far more than we would like. The Amila patrol has been operating since 1989 and it means that one royal naval destroyer is stationed there. It is normally linked to Bahrain but it is currently with the royal fleet observer vessel. I personally think that Britain is too reliant on its arms trade. We are very good at selling people arms. The Americans are the world’s best arms sellers and we are th
e second best – we have over taken the French. We have too much of our overseas trade linked to arms sales. I am well aware of the Al Yamama project – 15 billion is the latest figure I could get. Sell someone an aircraft and five years later you tell them the cockpit is seriously out of date, you will have to have a new cockpit. And two years later you tell them the engines are out of date. You can keep the plane but we will give you new engines. That is what arms sales are like. I move on to the commercial field. Here Britain competes directly with the USA and with France. The UK ‘s largest market, outside the OECD countries, is in the Gulf. The next WGO summit is due in Doha this autumn. In 1999 UK exports to the GCC countries were worth over £3.75 billion and imports were over £1.8 billion pounds. I would suggest to you that Britain has a big financial stake in this strategic region which contains 65% of the world’s known oil reserves. To give you a comparative figure, North America only has 8.5%. For natural gas Iran and Qatar holds the world’s second and third largest reserves. I am told that Qatar is going to be the richest country in God’s earth in terms of population in five years time. This is quite extraordinary. Before I finish I would like to mention Iran. It is an enormous country of great strategic importance. The Iranian ambassador tells me they have 15 neighbours. It is more than any other country in the world. It presents an enormous problem to the West at this time. Britain has had particular problems with Iran due to the Rushdie affair which very unfortunately it damaged our relationship. But the British government noticed the revolutionary government in Tehran was opposed to the peace process in the Middle East. It was not helpful for British politicians if you have the government of Iran opposed to it, for various reasons. There is also the problem of terrorism. The Israeli embassy in Burnos Aries was damaged by terrorists linked with Iran. It has been difficult for those British politicians who wish to improve relations with Iran. I paid a tribute to Robin Cook here. I think he realised we needed to break from the Americans who had this policy of dual containment of Iraq and Iran which was a disaster. And he wanted to move away from that and come closer to the EU. He has been trying to improve relations but it has been very slow and very difficult, When he was still foreign secretary he was about to go to Iran but they had the trial of the Jews and the visit was put off. How are things going in Iran? It seems to be a matter of one step forward or one step back. We can all think of countries which have an autocratic regime which has control over the intelligence services, the torturers, the police and they can stay in power year after year even though they are opposed by their people. Look at South Africa. Look at Milosevic. Are we going to switch on the telly one morning and find the old guard, the conservatives in Iran have gone or do we have to wait 25 years. I simply don’t know. I would say there is not much progress at the moment and the stakes are high. With regard to Iraq, you remember the Gulf war involved 30 allies and George Bush snr organised a coalition of 30 allies including most of the Arab countries. We should not have driven on to Baghdad after liberating Kuwait. Sir Anthony Parsons, like me, thinks this would have been a disaster. Of course we could have gone on to Baghdad, of course we could have remove Saddam Hussein but then what happens? You have people patrolling the streets of Baghdad and Basrah at night being shot at, being stabbed. If there is a liberal running the country he will just be seen as a stooge of the White House. I think it would be an absolute nightmare and I don’t think it is the job of Western countries to go around removing leaders of countries we do not like. We should not have gone on to Baghdad.Clearly we should not have allowed the Iraqis to have the use of their helicopters – that was a mistake, the used the helicopters to put down the uprising in the south. I actually think the United Nations, an organization I support, is entitled to say to one country in the world “We do not think that at this time you should have weapons of mass destruction”. A country which has been responsible in its past history for using chemical weapons. I went to see some of the Iranian soldiers who suffered from the use of chemical weapons when I was in Iran, it has used gas against part of its population in Halabja and Scud missiles against Israel. I just don’t think a country with the background should be entitled to have nuclear weapons. You may or may not agree. The world body should be able to say to a particular country we do not think you should have weapons of mass destruction. That brings us into extremely difficult areas. With regard to sanctions I would just like to say that states that initially supported the sanctions are means of putting pressure on Saddam now believe they are not having an effect. The unauthorised bombing campaign should be wound down. I think suggestion of American policy to have enclaves in Iraq which you support with air cover be a disaster – you could be heading for an Iraqi bay of pigs. If progress is going to be made on Iraq we will need the backing of an Arab state. Mr Chairman may I be allowed to end in this way: I fear that if we gaze into the crystal ball we do not see increasing stability and growing prosperity in the Gulf states. I think you will a period of considerable turbulence instead. I think the governmental structures in place are going to have great trouble standing up to some of the forces that are at play in the gulf region. I do not expect the problem of Iraq suddenly to dissipate from the scene. I happen to be the same age as Saddam Hussein so don’t tell me the old man is about to fall of her perch. After all we have been discussing tonight I think there are great challenges ahead.
Bahrain: 30th Anniversary of Bahrain’s independence ignored by official media The 15th August marks the 30th anniversary of Bahrain’s independence from the UK after 150 years of British control. The independence from the UK followed more than a year of intensive international activities aimed at responding to a claim by the Shah of Iran with regard to the status of Bahrain. In March 1970, the UN sent the personal representative of the then UN Secretary General, Mr. Winspeare Guicciardi, to assess the wishes of the people of Bahrain. Mr. Guicciardi toured the country and met with representatives from the towns and villages at his residence in the Gulf Hotel. The meeting hall of the Gulf Hotel was used for meeting many of Bahraini elders to identify their wishes. In May 1970, the UN security council voted in favour of the findings of the personal representative who reported that the people of Bahrain “were virtually unanimous in wanting a fully independent sovereign state”. Independence was proclaimed on 15 August 1971 and was then followed by the joining of the UN and the establishment of a Constituent Assembly for ratifying Bahrain’s constitution and paving the way for the National Assembly. The elected National Assembly lasted for less than 2 years, before its dissolution on 26 August 1975. To mark this occasion, the London-based Gulf Cultural Club will host a seminar on 16 August, at 6.00 pm. Sir Cyril Townsend will address the seminar under the theme “30 years after disengagement: The changing role of Britain in the Gulf”. Inside Bahrain, the official media ignored this important national occasion. This is rather a short-sighted move by the government. There are many lessons that can be learnt by marking the occasion. Bahrain is undergoing a reform process and many aspects of the reforms are similar to the ones handled during the independence period. Bahrainis had high hopes at that time, similar to the ones being experienced these days. The government promised major reforms 30 years ago, similar to the ones being promised these days. Learning the successes and failures of the past is important for all Bahrainis as they undergo the present critical period. Bahrain Freedom Movement 15 August 2001 Tel/Fax: +44 207 278 9089
SEMINAR 30 years ago, on 15 ugust 1971, Bahrain became a fully independent and sovereign state. To mark this Occasion, you are invited for a seminar on: “30 years after disengagement: The changing role of Britain in the Gulf” By Sir Cyril Townsend Director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) Date: Thursday 16 August 2001 Time: 6.00 pm Venue: Gulf Cultural Club, 45 Chalton Street, London NW1 1HY, (near Euston, Euston Square and King’s Cross Underground Stations). —————————— SIR CYRIL TOWNSEND Biographical Notes Sir Cyril Townsend has been the Director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding since 1995. He was a Joint Chairman between 1982 – 1992. He was a Conservative Member of the House of Commons for twenty three years and developed an extensive knowledge of foreign affairs and defence matters. As a regular soldier, Sir Cyril saw active service in Cyprus and Borneo and he was on the staff of the Governor of Hong Kong. On leaving the British Army in 1968 he worked for Sir Edward Heath when the latter was the Leader of the Opposition. After a spell in the Conservative Research Department he was elected to the House of Commons in 1974 for Bexleyheath. He was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons. He was also a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Foreign Affairs Committee and the Conservative Defence Committee. He was Chairman of the United Nations Parliamentary Group and the British -Cyprus Parliamentary Group, and also Chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council. In 1982 he was a Parliamentary Observer at the Presidential Election in the Lebanon and he led a Parliamentary Delegation to Iran in 1988. He was an E.U. Election Observer for the Elections in Palestine in 1996. He is President of the South West Region of the United Nations Association. He is a Governor of the Centre for World Dialogue in Nicosia. He is also a Joint Honorary President of the Islamic Research Academy and a patron of the Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism. He was a Board Member of UNICEF UK between 1995 – 2000. For eleven years he has had a weekly column on international affairs in Al-Hayat. He was educated at Bradfield College and the Royal Military Academy a Sandhurst.
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 13, 2001 (Inter Press Service via COMTEX) — The United Nations is on the verge of abandoning a longstanding proposal for an international conference on migration and development because it lacks support from member states. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has complained that only 78 of the U.N.’s 189 member states have responded at all to three appeals he has made since 1995, soliciting support to hold the conference. Of the 78, he says, 47 were “generally in favor” of convening the proposed conference while 26 were opposed to it. Another five countries have expressed “partial support.” Senior U.N. officials say the results mean Annan likely will recommend that the conference be abandoned. Although none of the countries has been identified by name, U.N. sources tell IPS that most of the migrant labor-dependent nations in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Western Europe stand opposed to the conference for what one official calls “selfish reasons.” “Clearly, they don’t want a conference because it would not only raise issues concerning the exploitation of migrant labor but also consolidate the rights of expatriate workers,” he says. Countries that rely heavily on migrant labor include Germany, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Malaysia, and Singapore. The main suppliers include Mexico, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Egypt, and Turkey. The proposed conference’s agenda likely would include issues deemed sensitive by many countries. These include xenophobia, sweatshops, sexual and other violence against female workers, the right to family reunion, and minimum wages. Annan, in a 15-page report to be presented to the General Assembly when it holds its next session beginning in September, says that the 26 governments that have registered their opposition to the proposed conference share the view that “international migration and development issues had already been the object of discussions in several U.N. conferences.” In addition, “a number of governments expressed serious reservations about convening such a conference, given the current financial constraints of the United Nations,” he says.
LA TRIBUNE: ALSTOM POWER LANDS BAHRAIN CONTRACT
Aug 13, 2001, (La Tribune /FT Information) — The French energy company Alstom Power has been awarded a contract to extend an electricity plant and desalinate seawater in the north of Bahrain, the Bahrain media announced yesterday. This contract, which is worth more than $300m (336m euros), concerns the construction of the country’s biggest power station, with a capacity of 700MW. The Bahrain government announced in June that it had asked banks operating in the country to organise a $345m loan to finance this project. Abstracted from La Tribune
Bahrain: Mass rally in support of Palestine; Armed pirates attack Bahrainis In what is described as one of the biggest demonstrations in Bahrain, citizens from all around the country gathered near Al-Fateh Mosque in Jufair on 9 August (evening) and marched through the main streets and avenue chanting slogans in support of the Palestinian Intifada. The demonstrators carried placards and banners calling for Arab and Islamic unity to stand in the face of an arrogant aggressor and violator of basic human rights of the Palestinians. The rally was organised by the Bahraini Society Against Normalisation with the Zionist Enemy. The president of the society, Mr. Jamal Fakhro, called on the Arabs to show their strength and offer effective support to the Palestinians. All tendencies and many leading clubs and societies supported and participated in the demonstration that exhibited the strength of unity amongst the people of Bahrain around the core issue of Palestine. A senior opposition figure, Mr. Hassan Mushaimaa was quoted saying “even if this issue has been put on the back burner by the world community, it must not be forgotten by the Arab world.” It is reported that the first hotel will be opened in Muharraq next summer. A Swiss company has been awarded the contract for constructing the hotel which will be surrounded by a shopping mall at a cost of five millions dinars (more than $13m). The matter raised by many people is that this hotel will be owned by the Minister of Transportation, also the son of the Prime Minister. It was hoped that the new programme of reforms would separate between ruling and running businesses. The mixture of business and governing has not served Bahrain well and business confidence drops when people feel they have no chance of gaining ground in business without entering into deals outside the law. On the other hand, piracy has returned to the Gulf waters. The local Bahraini press reported that “pirates have reportedly attacked three Bahraini fishing dhows within a week, stripping them of their haul and other belongings.” Shots have been fired by the robbers and one Indian fisherman needed medical treatment after being beaten with the butt of a rifle, in an attack off Bahrain on Tuesday. The raiders attacked by speedboat then fled, leaving the dhows to limp home from waters four hours sailing north-east of Muharraq. Now some fishermen say they are afraid to put out to sea, unless the Coastguard can keep them safe. Bahrain Freedom Movement 10 August 2001 Tel/Fax: +44 207 278 9089
Extracts from the Gulf Daily News on attacks by pirates (10 August 2001) Dhows belonging to Ahmed Hassan Al Nuaimi, Waheed Rashid Al Dosari and Isa Hassan Ebrahim have been attacked, said a well-placed source. The raiders stripped the boats of fishing gear and traps, electronic equipment, their catch and in one case, a spare propeller, along with cash and property belonging to individual fishermen. Mr Ebrahim, aged 40, was out on his dhow with his four Asian helpers when the pirates struck, about 38 nautical miles off Bahrain’s north-east coast, last Saturday. They had been out fishing all night after leaving Bahrain at around 11pm Friday and were re-setting traps after hauling in their catch. “We reached the Hayr Bil Kharab area at around 12.30pm, when I saw a speedboat in the area,” said Mr Ebrahim, who is from Dair, Muharraq. He said this was not unusual, but he felt uneasy as the bright orange boat sped towards them. “There was a man standing waving to me with a plastic barrel, like those used for drinking water or fuel,” said Mr Ebrahim. “The man who was standing yelled ‘banzeen’ (Arabic for petrol) and my doubts became stronger when I heard his awkward accent. “So I continued on my way and gestured that I did not have any to spare. Suddenly he started shouting ‘stop!’ in English and when I turned I saw his accomplice handing him a rifle.” The raider fired a warning shot into the air and Mr Ebrahim felt their lives would be in danger if they did not stop the dhow. He said the three men, each armed with a rifle, boarded the dhow, as a second speedboat with two armed men aboard, drew up nearby. “They quickly came on board and told my workers and I to go stand in front of the dhow, then they started searching for valuables,” said Mr Ebrahim. “They took my workers’ money, all our fish, which weighed around 360 kilos, my mobile, the GPS (navigational equipment) and threw our water and food into the sea. “They even tore down the dhow’s umbrella and took six. 40-kg ice coolers (used to keep the fish cold).” Mr Ebrahim said the raiders then spotted another dhow in the distance and sped off to rob it. The other dhow belonged to a Bahraini friend of his (Mr Al Nuaimi) who lives in Qatar. His dhow was also attacked and stripped off anything the raiders could take, but all aboard were later reported safe, said sources. Mr Ebrahim said he reported the incident to the Coastguard as soon as he reached shore. “Such acts of piracy disappeared a long time ago, but now they are back,” he said. Another Bahraini-owned dhow, crewed by five Indians, was attacked at 5pm on Tuesday, but this time the raiders were more aggressive. The dhow, belonging to Waheed Rashid Al Dosari, from Muharraq, was in the Najwat Al Ammari area, about 44 nautical miles off Bahrain’s north-eastern coast, when the captain spotted a speedboat racing towards them. “They yelled at me to stop the dhow, but I carried on. Then suddenly I heard two gun shots,” said the captain, Gayshankar Naran. “There were four men in the speedboat. They came to the side of the dhow and three of them jumped aboard.” All were armed with rifles and two of the Indian crew members dived into the hold to hide. But one raider saw them and fire two shots into the old, barking at them to come out. One came out, then two of the pirates jumped in and dragged out the other, beating him with a rifle butt and punching him. “He was hit in the neck by the rifle butt and punched hard in the ribs,” said Mr Naran. Mr Al Dosari, who was not aboard when the attack happened, said the injured fisherman, Alagabban Karmegam, aged 31, was taken for medical treatment once safely back in port. The raiders snatched BD80 from the fishermen, two mobile phones, the spare propeller and 1,500 kilos of fish, worth more than BD1,000, before leaving the dhow, said Mr Al Dosari. He said they tipped the fish out of the dhow’s coolers into the single-engine speedboat. “I doubt that such a speedboat could go long distances with such a heavy load,” said Mr Al Dosari, a father of seven. He said he was now afraid to go out himself or send out his crew, for fear of someone being killed. “I know it is my livelihood and without it I cannot guarantee that my children will have food on their table, but I am afraid I might get killed by those pirates,” said Mr Al Dosari. He said he had filed a complaint with the Coastguards, who took photographs of his dhow and recovered the two bullet shells. The crew had told him the raiders were fair-skinned, tall and clean-shaven, said Mr Al Dosari. Fishermen at the Muharraq jetty said yesterday they were stunned by the attacks. “It is amazing how no official warning has been issued to us that our lives could be in danger if we venture out to sea to gain our livelihood,” said one, who would not be named. “We are already struggling to pay loans, we have families to feed and business is not so good. The last thing we want is to be terrorised.” Jaber Khalifa Al Buainian shared his sentiments. “We were scheduled to go fishing yesterday, but after the stories we heard, I guess it is better to go without a job than lose our lives,” he said. “I thought piracy is a thing of the past. Our grandfathers used to talk about it in the 1930s, but to hear of such a thing in this age is ridiculous.” Darwish Salem Al Ghalili, 64, said many fishermen were afraid to go and tend their traps, because of the raiders. “They are keeping us all at bay. There should be more security in the region and a solution should be found soon,” he said. Coastguard and fisheries officials would not comment.
Aug 08, 2001 (United Press International): Why be just an emir when you can be a king? The emirate of Bahrain, a wee but prosperous island off the Gulf coast of Arabia, is to once again have a parliamentary assembly by 2003. So the ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa, has decided it should also become a kingdom. Bahrain covers 268 square miles and has a population of about 645,000. Once famous for its pearls, it is now a commercial center to which neighboring Saudis like to get away for r&r.
Manama, Bahrain, Aug. 8 (AP) – An Iranian team began work on containing an oil slick from a ship that sank while smuggling Iraqi oil in the Persian Gulf, a Bahraini maritime official said Tuesday. The slick of oil that leaked from the merchant vessel Georgios was 4.8 kilometers long and about 800 metres wide, said Capt. Abdel-Munem al-Janahi, director of the Bahrain-based Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Center. He said the sunken ship was still leaking oil.
Reuters, 6 August: A ship apparently smuggling Iraqi oil sank in the Gulf, with all 12 crew rescued, after it was intercepted by a U.S.-led naval force monitoring U.N. sanctions against Baghdad, a force spokeswoman said on Monday. The Multinational Interception Force spokeswoman told Reuters by telephone from Bahrain that the Honduras-flagged Georgios went down on Sunday in international waters some 60 nautical miles off the coast of Kuwait while trying to evade the navy ships. A U.S. ship rescued all 12 crew members, who were “oil- soaked but in good condition,” she added without giving further details. An official at the Bahrain-based Marine Emergency Mutual Center (MEMC) said the ship had been carrying around 900 tonnes of crude, but added that the resulting oil slick posed no danger to any nearby countries. “It sank right in the middle of the Gulf. According to our modeling, the slick would not reach any coast in the Gulf,” the official added. Iraq often uses aged vessels to smuggle crude in violation of the U.N. oil-for-food program, which allows Baghdad to sell oil to offset the effect of the 11-year-old sanctions imposed on it for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The U.S. spokeswoman said the Georgios had been intercepted three times in the past. The MEMC official said the ship had no log and lacked safety standards. In April, a tanker smuggling Iraqi fuel oil sank off the United Arab Emirates, causing the Gulf state’s worst environmental disaster in decades.
LONDON, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Following are some of the major events to have occurred on August 15 in history: 1971 – Bahrain became a separate independent state. LONDON, Aug 7 (Reuters) – Following are some of the major events to have occurred on August 14 in history: 1971 – Bahrain declared itself a fully independent and sovereign state.
NICOSIA, Aug 7 (Reuters) – Two Greek Cypriot businessmen who were arrested in Bahrain last month have been cleared of any wrongdoing, their lawyers said on Tuesday. Andreas Papayiannis and Costas Polemidiotis were detained on July 25, in connection with what the Gulf News agency said was an investigation into a fake bank guarantee of $50 million. Uncertainty over the exact reasons for the two Cypriots being placed under house arrest led to a flurry of diplomatic activity between Cyprus and Bahrain. Their lawyer, Christos Clerides, issued a statement on Tuesday confirming press reports that Papayiannis and Polemidiotis had been freed. “Mr Papayiannis has been set free and is in his hotel. Efforts are being made for his passport to be returned to him so he can return to Cyprus earlier than the two to three days he has been told he will be allowed to return in,” Clerides said. “As far as Mr Polemidiotis is concerned, an effort is again being made for his immediate release and the return of his passport so he too can return to Cyprus,” the lawyer stated. Clerides said Bahraini investigators had found nothing incriminating against his two clients.
MANAMA, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Two Bahraini soldiers were killed and 10 others were injured on Sunday when a bomb exploded during a military exercise, the Gulf News Agency reported. The soldiers from a field engineers unit were trying to defuse the bomb when it exploded, the agency quoted an official statement as saying. Five of the wounded soldiers were released after treatment from minor injuries, while the rest were in a stable condition, the agency said. The small Gulf Arab state has a 11,000-strong army. ———————————– MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — A bomb exploded during an attempt to defuse it Sunday, killing two soldiers and wounding 10 others, the official Gulf News Agency said. The agency said 1st Sgt. Ali Ebrahim and Cpl. Faisal Nasser Rashed died in the accident at 8:50 a.m. local time (0550 GMT). Five of the ten wounded soldiers were admitted to the Bahrain Defense Force Hospital, while the others were discharged after treatment for minor injuries, the agency said. Details of the blast were sketchy, but the agency said that a group of military engineers were attempting to defuse a bomb used for training purposes when it exploded.
Bahrain, which is the regional base of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, has more than 20,000 troops in its defense force. am-jbm
Bahrain: Zionist atrocities condemned More than nine thousands Bahrainis signed a petition protesting at the backing of the United States for the Zionist atrocities against the Palestinians. A delegation comprising the lawyer Abdulla Hashim, Mr. Mohammed Abdulla Fakhro, Mr. Abdul Rahman Al-Hammad, and Ms Ramlah Jawad handed the petition to the US Embassy on 1 August. The petition said, “the citizens of Bahrain express their affection and respect to the American people. However, we condemn the continued support offered by the US State Department to the Israelis. The US support extends to all fields, diplomatically, militarily, economically and politically. It is this support that encouraged the Zionist State to commit grave violations against humanity and to subject the Palestinian people to murder, crippling, arbitrary arrests, destruction of houses, occupation of land, and besieging an entire nation.” The signers of the petition condoned the aggression committed by the Israeli forces against Al-Haram Al-Sharif and the beating of the people who were performing prayers. Another statement was signed by clubs and societies in Bahrain. The statement, dated 3 August, expressed the anger felt by the people of Bahrain at the continued atrocities of the Zionists and the hypocrisy of the powers, which claim the championing of human rights and democracy. The statement called on the Arab and Muslim peoples to offer their effective support to the Palestinian people and called on the Egyptian and Jordanian government to repeal the treaties they sighed with the Israelis. Similarly, the statement called on Qatar and Oman to close the Israeli commercial offices in their capitals. The US Vice-President Dick Cheney added salt to injury on 3 August by stating that Israel had “some justification” when it deliberately killed Palestinians. The Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon authorised the bombing and killing of people in the West Bank and Gaza. The US Administration is continuously confirming its bias against the legitimate rights of Palestinians. Arabs and Muslims are used to witnessing how the US turns a blind eye when it comes to the atrocities committed by the Zionists. However, this time, some US officials have gone a step further by supporting the killing of Palestinians. The selective approach and double standards exhibited by the US are main factors in the prolonging of the Middle Eastern crisis. Bahrain Freedom Movement 5 August 2001 Tel/Fax: +44 207 278 9089
2 August MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — The minister for electricity and water was buried in Bahrain on Thursday, a day after he died of heart failure in a London hospital, the official Gulf News Agency reported. Sheik Daij bin Khalifa bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, 63, was interred at Muharraq Cemetery east of the capital, Manama, the agency said. Hours earlier his body had arrived from London. Bahrain’s Crown Prince Sheik Salman and Prime Minister Sheik Khalifa attended the ceremony. The crown prince is married to a daughter of Sheik Daij. Bahraini government officials would not comment Thursday on who was likely to replace Sheik Daij. Sheik Daij had been suffering from heart problems for some time, the English-language Gulf Daily News newspaper reported. He joined the civil service in 1961 and was appointed electricity and water minister in June 1999. The agency did not identify the hospital where he died.
Sheik Daij leaves a wife and five children. am-jbm
Bahrain: Citizens’ rights must be protected The Arab youths who gathered in Bahrain on 27 and 28 July to participate in a UN-sponsored workshop on combating racism issued an appeal to the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Mrs. Mary Robinson, expressing their concern at the intentions of the United States and some UN officials to prevent the forthcoming World Conference on Racism, due to be held in South Africa this month, from debating the racist policies of the Israelis. The Arab youth workshop was run by the recently formed Bahrain Human Rights Society and brought together representatives from 18 Arab countries. The unique NGO gathering adopted several resolutions for participating in the World Conference on Racism and in the Youth Summit that will precede it. The Arab youths expressed their dismay at the hypocrisy of some political circles when it comes to tackling the racist ideology of the Zionists. This racist ideology is being presented as the “only democracy in the Middle East”, a false claim when millions of natives are driven out from their land and when an ultra-orthodox religious zealots are provided with all the support they need to exercise repression and denial of existence to millions of people who do not adhere to their views. On the internal issues, 14 citizens met with the human resources manger of the telecommunication company, Batelco, and demanded that they be reinstated to their positions as directed by the Amir. The 14 citizens were dismissed from their positions some years ago for political reasons and all should have returned to their jobs. However, Batelco management refuses to reinstate the remaining 14 citizens without giving any reason. The 14 citizens gave Batelco one week (until 4 August) to positively respond, before they take their case to the Amir had issued a directive for the reinstatement of all those who were dismissed for political reasons. On 28 July, fifty citizens picketed in front of the Labour Ministry demanding to know their fate. They complained that their future is uncertain and that they face a bleak situation. They raised placards and shouted slogans demanding jobs. Bahrain has some 20,000 unemployed citizens while at the same time there are more 200,000 foreign workers. The group of citizens were forced to abandon the picket by a group of security men led by an officer by the name Isa Flaifel. However, the citizens dispersed after agreeing to be allowed to air their views to ministry’s officials inside one of the ministry’s halls. The Amir was quoted during his official visit to Morocco that he expects Bahrain to be renamed as a kingdom alongside the return of parliamentary elections. Bahrainis voted last February on the National Charter which paves the way for a bicameral parliamentary system and for the change of the name of Bahrain to a kingdom, instead of the present Emirate system. The opposition is aiming to ensure that the constitutional rights of citizens aren’t compromised during the coming changes. Bahrain Freedom Movement 1 August 2001 Tel/Fax: +44 207 278 9089
NICOSIA, (AFP) – Two Cypriot businessmen have been arrested in the Gulf state of Bahrain on suspicion of compromising that countrys security, local television reported Thursday quoting foreign ministry sources. According to the Antenna One television station, Nicosia residents Costas Polemidiotis and Andreas Papayiannis travelled to Bahrain on business 15 days ago accompanied by a Jordanian permanent resident of Cyprus. Polemidiotis wife reported her husband missing to local police Wednesday, saying that she had not heard from him since Tuesday. He had previously telephoned her two or three times a day, the unnamed wife said. Apparently, the two Cypriots were seen settling their hotel bill in the presence of a Bahraini police officer and foreign ministry official. The Foreign Ministry confirmed the two mens arrest late yesterday afternoon, said the TV station. —————– MANAMA, July 29 (Reuters) – Bahrain has arrested five Cypriot and Jordanian businessmen suspected of trying to conduct a transaction with a fake $50 million bank guarantee, the official Gulf News Agency reported on Sunday. “The Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA), Bahrain’s central bank, received a report on July 19 from an international bank official in Bahrain that five Cypriot and Jordanian businessmen had presented a false $50 million bank guarantee,” the agency said. “Security officials arrested the five suspects to investigate the case,” it added. The agency gave no further details, and it was not immediately clear if the case was related to money laundering. Bahrain is the Gulf’s financial and banking hub. ————— MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) 29 July — Bahrain authorities have arrested five men in connection with a suspected dlrs 50 million money laundering attempt, local newspapers reported Sunday. The Cypriot and Jordanian businessmen were arrested after an official of an unnamed international bank, where they presented a false draft issued by another overseas bank, alerted the Central Bank on July 19. The Central Bank alerted the Interior Ministry, the newspapers said. Officials could not be reached for comment. The papers did not name the suspects or say when they were arrested. The five men are now reportedly in custody pending a full investigation. Bahrain, a leading financial center in the Middle East, recently set up a committee to draft laws to combat money laundering.
Voice of Bahrain Commentray: August 2001 Freedom of expression is a prerequisite for transparency Confusion and uncertainty are becoming features of the political game in Bahrain. The public morale was last month subdued by the lack of transparency in certain government’s policies and intentions. Six months have now passed since the Amir started executing his reform programme. So far, the actions have focused, and rightly so, on issues relating to security and human rights. Most of the outstanding issues relating to these areas have almost been settled. What has not happened yet is tackling the sensitive issues relating to the reinstatement of the Constitution. One of the sources of anxiety is the attempt by the government to enforce changes to the Constitution in violation of the tenet of article 104. That article confines the right of constitutional changes to the elected National Assembly. The Amir has been urged to uphold the Constitution and prevent any violation of its articles. A committee comprising ministers and other government officials has been charged with changing the Constitution. These changes are illegal and will not be accepted by the people. The Amir has achieved public endorsement of the National Charter that gives the Amir more powers than those stipulated by the Constitution. The opposition argues that violating the Constitution is not part of the extra powers given by the Charter. Changing the Constitution without recourse to the elected body is not conducive to the mutual trust invested in the Amir by the people of Bahrain. It is hoped that the Amir will opt for more reconciliatory approach to the future politics of the country. The National Charter also empowers the Amir to change the political system of Bahrain into a constitutional monarchy. He has postponed this until the parliamentary elections that may be held in 2004. Last month, however, Britain became the first country to declare the monarchical system. During an official visit by the Amir to London, the UK foreign secretary, Jack Straw, addressed the Amir in terms reserved for monarchs and monarchies. He used the term “the Kingdom of Bahrain” alongside the United Kingdom. The inference is that the UK could only have used these terms if sanctioned by the Bahraini authorities. It has been widely claimed that the UK has endorsed the idea of a constitutional monarchy in Bahrain. London has perhaps decided to bring the news home to the people that the proposed official name of the country has now been put to practice. What it means in reality remains to be seen. Critics of the plan argue that Another point of confusion is related to the minister of information. Nabeel Al Hamar, a junior journalist has been awarded for his faithful service to the previous security-led political process, has infuriated the people of Bahrain. He is reported by the Al Hayat newspaper to have attacked the opposition and defending the perpetrators of the crimes of torture. Mr Al Hamar is notorious for his interventionist policies and censorship of ideas. He issued instructions to the editors not to publish articles which he did not like. In one case he was reported to have contacted an international news agency telling them to publish a statement on behalf of one Bahraini citizen without the knowledge of that person. Mr. Al Hamar is also believed to be behind a mysterious “order” issued last month by the General Organisations for Youths and Sportss (GOYS) banning the organising of public seminars and ordering all clubs and associations to obtain a specail permit for holding any function. This order is attmpting to bring back one feature of the State Securioty Law that was abrogated by the Amir last February. The problem lies in the fact that many people within the executive are not sympathetic to the reform programme of the Amir. Moreover, some of them are against any change that would legitimise the existence of the dissenting voices. Others have amassed huge amount of wealth and are reluctant to let loose their grip on power. In an open society their business empires are likely to be scrutinised by the public and are likely to lose their favorable positions. It will therefore take great efforts to dislodge these elements who will fight off any challenge to their authority. The reform programme thus needs a strong will from the Amir and his circle. The absence of transparency is also a worrying sign. The government has apparently shelved its plans to organise municipality elections which received huge publicity when they were first announced two years ago. The prime minister had announced his decision to allow these elections, but he is now said to be contemplating the idea of delaying these elections for at least three years. No reason has been given. The problem of unemployment remains a volatile issue. The government has failed to produce a programme to solve it and has attempted to force the private sector to shoulder the responsibility of employing Bahrainis in their businesses. The public view is that the government must take the initiative to reduce foreign workforce in governmental institutions before asking the private sector to do so. It is clear that the government does not want to take real steps to introduce changes to the present recruitment policies in the security and police forces. They still have no confidence in local people and would still prefer foreigners in the various forces. This has led to a rapid programme of naturalising non-Bahrainis in order to change the demographic balance in the country. The Ministry of the Interior has recently published some figures claiming that the non-Bahrainis who were naturalised amount to more than 80 thousand people over half a century. This is considered to be a misleading figure and the oppsosition has called for a full investigation by a neutral commission in this quagmire. Transparency has thus become a necessity if the Amir’s programme is to be a success. At a time when public feelings are running high and anxiety has disturned hope and optimism, it is only appropriate for the authorities to respond favourably to the request for independent commissions to look into the issues of concern. Only then could there be considered to be a good chance of gaining a meaningful civil society in Bahrain. Bahrain Freedom Movement August 2001 Tel/Fax: +44 207 278 9089