The Constitution is the Foundation Article 104, is seen as one of the most important constitutional tools to regulate the law-making – confines the power to change any article of the Constitution within the elected parliament. This article especially significant for its recognition of basic rights in the is legislative process. The National Charter explicitly limited the power of the appointed Shura Council to giving advice and is not empowered to have legislative power.. The government of Bahrain introduced a bi-cameral Parliament. One chamber is the Council of Representative consisting of forty elected members. The other is the Shura Council, composed of 40 senators to be appointed by the government. Prior to this change the free elected parliament had the final say over disagreements and differences between government ministers and MPs but now the government has the final say over the two houses as a result of transferring 50% of the legislative power from National Assembly to the Shura Council, ie. the government. According to the Constitution the legislative power is vested in the National Assembly and cannot be delegated or shared. The rules of the Constitution are binding and of a superior quality and the basic legal regulations which bind the legislative, executive and judicial organs, the government and other organizations. The violation of this principle in the new constitution is significant and affects the three powers. Most importantly it violates the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution. Article 104 of the Constituion serves to maintain a balance between the rights of the people and the powers of the government preserving democracy. Furthermore, it prevents abuse of the constitution by the government and constitutes the source of legality for any proposed amendment. The New political “reforms” initiated by the King have given unchecked powers to the government and have thus limited the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual. The government has embarked on an economic policy that favours foreigners to local workforce. The 1973 Constitution makes everyone equal before the law. However, in Bahrain both the Public sector and the Private sector discriminate against individuals on sectarian and political grounds. Privileges are granted to the royal family or those associated with it. The majority of the citizens are denied access to top governmental posts. Many are denied employment with foreign, defence and interior ministries. The legislation rights are fundamental rights, which are inviolable and non-transferable. The national charter was introduced with the objective of violating those basic rights by placing the people of Bahrain under the sole control of the government. The new distribution of the municipal election ballots was used in such a way as to emphasise the hegemony of one social class over others. Also it was structured on discriminatory basis based on religious and political opinions. The constitution was fundamentally changed without the approval of the National Assembly, while the people were denied the right to discuss these changes. These changes are illegal and violate the 1973 Constitution in substance. Every Bahraini has the right to defend his/her fundamental rights and freedoms when they are violated. According to the Constitution, the legislative process belongs to the nation and not to the government. The Constitution respects that basic human right whilst the national charter does not. The people of Bahrain demand the supremacy of the 1973 constitution over the national charter as promised by the King last year. This demand is indispensable to the movement to establish a democratic life. Bahrain Freedom Movement 29th June 2002 Tel/Fax: +44 207 387 2492
The New ill parliament who is in control? The overall goal of the continuation to reject the new ill parliament is what all Bahrainis want: a government with a more open, constructive atmosphere, in which the Bahraini people have enough confidence and a more influential role to play. In the New so-called reforms, the ill parliament will be overpopulated with government officials (Al-Shura Council: members appointed by government). This uneven balance of power will reveal a parliament that is not functioning in line with democratic principles. The role approving bills, by the government appointed officials in the new ill parliament, cripples the democratic process from genuinely evaluating the government disappointing performance in many issues. An elected parliament, free from government influence, should be able to fulfil its monitoring duties on the government. The fundamental shift of the New Reforms programme, initiated by the King, hinges on bypassing Article 104 of the 1973 constitution. It has the consequence of eliminating the Parliament monitoring role. It also results in the legislative process in the being considerably influenced by the government orders rather than the people’s demands. The New ill parliament, the membership of which is composed of 50% king-appointed officials, will hardly be capable to command the issues and have the required independent judgement necessary to make compelling bills to counter those of the government. Article 104, is the only guarantee that the people of Bahrain used to have to ensure that the Parliament is an appropriate forum for raising serious concerns about the people’s demands and the government performance. The New Reforms portray the official view that the ownership of political reforms remains firmly in the hands of the government and that the people just have to accept them as they are. In order to be effective, the people of Bahraini require not only a clear and unambiguous legislative process based on the collectively accepted 1973 constitution, but also the confidence that they have the authority and ability to carry it out. The problem with the national action charter is that it was concerned with broad principles. It offered little practical and detailed guidance specifically about the relationship between the Parliament and Al-Shura Council (government appointed officials). The people of Bahrain voted for that document subject to the guarantees given by the King that the constitution will be respected and that it would remain the primary reference. On 14 February 2002, the King, unethically, not only changed the constitution significantly but also abrogated Article 104, which does not allow any change to the constitution without the approval of the elected parliament. Article 104 was instituted to achieve a balance of power between the government and the nation. The new political reforms, however, were aimed at reducing the peoples’ input in the process. As the people of Bahrain seek to exert influence over the political reforms and express their concerns about the illegal unilateral actions, the government continues to ignore such concerns. The government has maintained its approach in addressing such widespread popular concerns on the perception that they are a source of threat to their grip on all powers within the country. A longstanding concern of the people of Bahrain is where to draw the line between a government official who contributes ideas to the parliament and having that official managing the parliament. It is contrary to democracy that the government manages and approves at the same time. The parliament should approve and the government should manage the country. A promising area for the opposition to support the New Political Reforms lies with the government reinstating Article 104, respect the constitution and adopt measures to build the trust that has been lost since circumventing Article 104 of the 1973 constitution on 14 the February 2002. Bahrain Freedom Movement 22 June 2002 Tel/Fax: +44 207 387 2492
Bahrain: The dual nationality decree is null and void The unilateral and undemocratic approach has continued to shape the politics of Bahrain for the past 16 months. The recent dual nationality decree allowing other Gulf nationals the right to a Bahraini nationality is a striking example of the new decision -making culture imposed on the country. While the Information Minister claims that the decree is strategically linked to the attempts of the Gulf Cooperation Council to form a unified Gulf identity, the decree transcends basic facts and fundamental requirements for that unity to become a reality. It also ignores the serious economic, social and political implications that will result from this immature adventure. Economically, the dual nationality will put unbearable burden on the already exhausted and blundered resources of the country. The government has shown a great inefficiency in addressing the housing crisis facing thousands of young Bahrainis, and the urgency to update the infrastructure of the country, such as water and power. So far, the granting of citizenship to many from Jordan, Syria, Yemen and Pakistan has resulted in the deprivation of many Bahrainis of decent jobs in a number of government institutions. The social structure and cultural identity are being threatened by the huge influx of a the new “citizens”. It is certain that the unbalanced nature of the policy will debilitate the social fabric and create social tensions. Politically, this is likely to lead to a situation in which political cohesion will not exist in the country. Legislation pertaining to the electoral regions and the changes to the constitution have all been directed toward minimising public participation and marginalising the influence of the majority of the people. This new decree seems to reinforce this strategy by emphasising the sectarian nature of the electoral regional distribution. While directly and significantly affecting their political rights, the new royal decree has totally ignored the will of the people of Bahrain, thereby making it the most undemocratic. The unity among the GCC countries needs political, social and economic infrastructures to be developed across all the borders of gulf states before these drastic steps. It also needs to be preceded by collective actions to diminish the apparent disparity in the level of services as well as civil and political rights. The unilateral move by the Bahrain government gives no recognition to realities, nor is it based on a proper understanding of the consequences. This decree comes as the most serious in a series of unlawful legislations aimed at confiscating the people’s rights of political participation, even under the so-called 2002 constitution, which guarantees a total government control over the decision making process, thus circumventing any real participation by the people. In the absence of a representative legislature, this decree is considered null and void. Any attempt to enforce it will be viewed as a political and cultural genocide, which is a crime in international law. Bahrain Freedom Movement 19 June 2002 Tel/Fax: +44 207 387 2492
Bahrain Tries to Still Anger of Poor By NEIL MacFARQUHAR NY Times 18th Of June2002 MANAMA, Bahrain — Behind the pricey hotels and pruned palm trees, much of this capital and its surrounding villages consist of cramped little streets that a car negotiates with difficulty. The politics of this island state of 650,000 people run a similarly jagged course. A new monarch pitches his smooth vision of a government abandoning repression, but feelings on the back streets run more ragged. There, slogans denounce the absolute rule of the dynasty and warn against imitating the thousands of Americans stationed here at the home port of the Fifth Fleet. “American-style haircuts are the start of being corrupted,” reads a line spray-painted across a concrete wall. The Khalifa monarchy is now engaged in an effort to still the anger of these poor warrens, an experiment being monitored throughout the Persian Gulf and the Arab world beyond. This spring, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, who is 52, made good on the first step toward easing away from one-man rule with municipal elections. The vote for a national Parliament is expected in October. Repressive Arab governments are watching to see if the experiment produces the magic balance required to maintain their grip on power while introducing just enough openness to ease the simmering frustration of the new generation. Young Arabs express increasing anger about their inability to find jobs and buy houses, and at watching the world advance while they stagnate. They see the campaign against terrorism as an assault on Islam and chafe at the inability of the Arab world to improve the lot of the Palestinians, and they seethe. “How can you stop the fire inside people?” hissed a rail-thin 25-year-old man in the government unemployment office here. He gave his name, then retracted it when he noticed police officers and other officials who materialized behind him. “People have no chance to live.” The potential for instability is plain. In April, Islamic opposition groups rallied tens of thousands of people to anti-American demonstrations, to protest the United States’ support of Israel. One 24-year-old demonstrator was shot to death after rioters breached the wall of the United States Embassy. The stencil of his portrait is now spray-painted on walls across the island, often with the slogan “Death to America.” The protests recalled the violence of the mid-1990’s, with its deadly friction between between the ruling Sunni minority, who have most of the wealth, and the Shiite majority, which is largely poor. At the time the Shiites were barred from jobs in the security services, out of fear that they would act in the interests of Shiite Iran, across the Persian Gulf. Members of the Shiite population staged a violent rebellion, seeking a greater voice in running Bahrain. Bombings and violent demonstrations led to about 40 deaths. Hundreds of militants were exiled, and thousands of political prisoners were jailed under draconian security laws. The new king, who ascended Bahrain’s throne in 1999, released the prisoners, welcomed home most exiles and abolished the security law under which hundreds of dissidents were imprisoned or exiled, in cases handled in closed courts. He also promised the first elections since his late father dissolved Parliament and suspended the Constitution in 1975. This island nation is considered too tiny to serve as a model for, say, Saudi Arabia next door. The demographics, too, are different. But Bahrain does share certain traits with other Arab governments. “There is a big similarity among Arab governments in dealing with their people,” said Majid Milad al-Jazeeri, a high school Arabic teacher newly elected to one of the municipal councils in Manama. “They meet the people’s demands for more freedom with violence, with beatings, tear gas, jail and torture.” Mr. Jazeeri speaks from experience. The police stormed through his narrow street at 3:30 one morning in December 1994. Not finding him at home, they took his wife and brother hostage until he turned himself in. He was accused of trying to re-create the Iranian revolution in Bahrain and was sentenced to three years in jail. He was freed for two weeks and then thrown back in, this time without charges. He stayed in jail until the new king decreed the amnesty. “Before criticism was dangerous, but now the road is open for almost any,” Mr. Jazeeri said, noting recent marches over the demand for jobs. Still, people in Bahrain wonder how much democracy their ruler can deliver. Many Bahrainis thought they were going to get back the 1973 Constitution, with a single legislative chamber boasting wide powers. Instead the king promulgated a new Constitution creating an appointed upper house that can effectively block anything the elected Parliament does. (It also gave women the right to vote and run for office, as they did in the municipal election.) “There is a step forward toward democracy, but it is just a step,” said Sheik Ali Salman. “It is less than what people expected.” Sheik Ali, 37, is the leader and religious guide of Wifaq, a conglomeration of Shiite Muslim opposition groups that captured about 22 of 50 seats on the five municipal councils. “The people lack a voice in the system, that is the main problem,” he said. “Either the king does it, or no one else can.” Experts say that in the long run, the principal goal of the ruling family is to ensure stability to attract foreign investors who can create jobs. But the violence of the 1990’s caused foreign banks and other companies to flee. “O.K., if we want full democracy, we are going backward, but if you compare it to reality, it is a big step forward,” said Sawsan Shair, a columnist at the newspaper Al Ayam. She said that in the old days, the ruler periodically threw open the doors of the palace to listen to complaints. It was a Bedouin system that is still widespread in all Persian Gulf countries, but the growth of the population and the complexity of government show its limitations as a simple form of democratic system.
“We want stability,” Ms. Shair said, “and you cannot have that without giving people some role in making decisions.”
Bahrain-politics-Gulf sched Bahrain’s Shiite Muslims cry foul over dual nationality plan by Habib Trabelsi DUBAI, June 16 (AFP) – Bahrain’s Shiite Muslims are in uproar over a government move to grant citizenship to other Gulf nationals, branding it a bid to alter the kingdom’s demographic balance ahead of parliamentary polls. The cabinet, acting on King Hamad’s “directives”, decided last week to allow Bahraini citizens to acquire the nationality of another Gulf state and Gulf nationals to obtain Bahraini nationality without forfeiting their original passport. “Dual nationality consecrates the concept of a united Gulf with a common destiny, and there is a need to formulate a legal framework to step up the process towards allowing people to have Gulf nationalities,” the undersecretary for immigration and passports at Bahrain’s interior ministry argued. “The facility to have dual nationality would accentuate the feeling of unity among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) citizens and lead to Gulf nationality,” said Sheikh Rashid bin Khalifa al-Khalifa. But the highest Shiite Muslim dignitary in Bahrain, Sheikh Issa Qassem, and the Shiite opposition in exile, condemned the cabinet’s scheme, accusing it of seeking to alter the kingdom’s delicate demographic balance ahead of October’s parliamentary elections. “The (envisaged) law is rejected by the people because it has electoral aims,” Sheikh Issa said during a sermon. “This plan aims at marginalising citizens further and does not have Arab-Muslim brotherhood as a motivating factor,” he said, daring the government to put the draft to a general referendum. But the sharpest criticism came from the London-based Bahrain Freedom Movement (BFM), which described the bill as an “extremely serious move because it aims to change quickly and radically the demographic make-up” of the country. “The Bahraini people will reject the king’s personal decision to naturalise GCC citizens without consulting them,” the BFM said, stressing that the Gulf archipelago’s historic and cultural identity was under threat. “Why does the king want to speed up the promulgation of such a law before October’s elections? What sort of democracy allows a ruler to change the demographic make-up of a country?” the group asked. The concerns of Sheikh Qassem and the BFM were backed by Bahrain’s leading lawyer, Abbas Hilal, who said: “Double nationality for GCC citizens is not a priority.” “Nationality supposes a moral and emotional tie between the citizen and his nation. “If we want to bring about the unity of the GCC, we should start by activating economic union between member states in implementation of their economy treaty,” Hilal said. King Hamad has scheduled parliamentary elections for October 24, as part of a process of reforms he started on assuming power on the death of his father in March 1999 in the wake of sporadic troubles triggered by the mainly Shiite opposition. The violence between Bahrain’s Shiite majority — demanding the restoration of a parliament abolished in 1975 — and ruling Sunni Muslim minority left at least 38 people dead between 1994 and 1999. In a series of conciliatory gestures, political prisoners were freed, exiled dissidents allowed to return home and political groups legalised since 1999.
The GCC groups Bahrain with Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Fitch cuts Bahrain Int’l Bank L-T rating to BB+ LONDON, May 27 (Fitch) – Fitch Ratings, the international rating agency, has today downgraded Bahrain International Bank’s ratings as follows: Long-term foreign currency rating to ‘BB+’ from ‘BBB-‘ (BBB minus), Short-term foreign currency to ‘B’ from ‘F3’, and Individual to ‘C/D’ from ‘C’. The Support rating remains at ‘5’. At the same time the Long-term Outlook has been changed to Negative from Stable, but will be reviewed by Fitch upon announcement of first half 2002 results. The rating changes follow the announcement of a substantial loss for 2001, and reflect the agency’s concerns over the sustainability of the bank’s profitability levels, the need to implement a more diversified strategy and the potential impact upon the bank’s wholesale funding base. These negative factors are balanced by a still adequate capital base and an experienced and hitherto successful management team. The Negative Outlook reflects the agency’s concern that resolving the bank’s strategic and financial issues may prove challenging over the short/medium term. Bahrain International Bank (BIB) was established in 1982 with an original brief to engage in commercial banking. A strategic review in 1991 called for BIB to become a pure investment bank servicing its predominantly high net worth Gulf client base. The bank focuses on five main activities: investment banking, (the origination of direct investments in the private and quoted corporate sectors in the USA and increasingly in Europe); corporate finance (the provision of M&A advisory services in the Gulf private sector); real estate, (focusing on thedevelopment and leasing of UK properties); investment securities (investment in the US corporate and government bond markets), and treasury activities. The bank’s investment activities are largely run out of its US, UK and Irish subsidiaries. The treasury and corporate finance activities are based in Bahrain. BIB reported a loss of USD47 million for 2001, which arose from a combination of substantial provisions against its investment portfolios, the implementation of accounting changes relating to controlled investments, and the reversal of a gain recognised in its 2000 figures for an equity sale that did not take place in 2001 as anticipated. The bank returned to profit (USD2.2m) in the first quarter of 2002 but it remains to be seen whether this is sustainable over 2002 given continued weak conditions in the US private equity and investment securities markets. Record profits reported from 1997 through 1999 were achieved as a result of large investment gains. However, weak market conditions during the past two years have adversely affected the bank’s ability to realise its private equity exit goals, and resulted in significant profit volatility. Management’s stated goal of reducing the individual size of direct corporate equity investments (in order to smooth out the bank’s future earnings stream and reduce its large exposure risk) has yet to be achieved. The accounting changes implemented on the advice of BIB’s auditors at end-2001 have reinforced the need to reduce the size of individual equity stakes and create a more balanced and diversified investment portfolio and therefore turnover flow. While this approach will bring some necessary diversification, the pattern of exits is likely to remain vulnerable to disruption in times of market volatility and economic uncertainty. This may also be exacerbated by a loss of control over the timing of exits as greater use is made of investing through external fund managers. In addition to a radical restructuring of its approach to private equity investments, management’s action plan includes a de-gearing of the balance sheet, a reduction in risk-weighted assets (through a controlled sale of investments), a focus on improving liquidity and a reduction in the cost base. Realistically, some time will be needed to achieve these goals, although the bank has made promising progress in the sale of assets in 2002 with a consequent de-gearing of the balance sheet. Management’s ultimate success will, in some part, be contingent on a sustained favourable business and economic environment. Although BIB continues to be reliant on short-term wholesale funding, it has reduced this reliance during 2002 through its programme of controlled asset sales. In the bank’s audited 2001 financials, its auditors noted that BIB was not compliant with loan covenants relating to Tangible Net Worth. BIB has obtained a waiver from its medium-term lenders, but nevertheless Fitch believes that the bank remains vulnerable to a change in sentiment, particularly as a significant proportion of funding falls due for renewal within the next 12 months. On a more positive note, BIB remains adequately capitalised with a total capital ratio in excess of 25% as at end-March 2002. However, in recent years, its capital base relative to the risks it is taking has weakened. Management expects the capital ratio to improve significantly by end-2002 due to a combination of a reduction in risk weighted assets together with retained earnings for the year and the sale of USD18m (nominal value) of treasury shares. Asset values in this period have been difficult to predict because of market stress. Although the bank’s ‘held to maturity’ investment portfolio exceeded its market value at end-2001 by USD24m (c.14 percent of end-2001 equity), management estimates that this is more than offset by undervaluations in certain equity stakes. In common with many other Bahrain-based offshore banks, BIB has no lender of last resort and no dominant shareholder. Given the absence of any obvious source of external support, it is possible that the Bahrain Monetary Authority would provide liquidity support to BIB if it were to run into difficulties in order to maintain confidence in Bahrain’s Offshore banking sector Comment The downgrading poses a blow to the sustainability of BIB, a Manama-based investment bank that focuses on selling investment opportunities to rich people and investors from the Gulf. Fitch is normally known for its leanient and easy rating. We expect S&P and Moody’s of the US to issue harsher critique.
The case represents another failure for Bahrain Monetary Agency in helping safeguarding the interests of investors and employees. The BIB case throws into question the management skills of Bahrain’s central bank. Earlier in the year, ABN of Holland sold its business in Bahrain following years of operations in Bahrain. But ABN kept its operations in Dubai.
One family affair: Al -Khalifas controlling the cabinet
Of the 18 ministers with portfolios in the cabinet, half of them are members of the al-Khalifa family, who in turn effectively control the government. Some of these al Khalifa ministers have been in their jobs since the early 1970s, and include ones uniquely not qualified for their jobs, in terms of education and/or experience. For example in 2001, Sheikh Abdullah bin Salman al-Khalifa was appointed as minister of electricity & water though he had spent his entire professional life in the military—his last military job was serving as the joint chief of the staff. Following is a brief account about each of the al-Khalifa ministers in the cabinet as of May 2002.
Prime minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa has been in his post ever since it was created in the early 1970s when Bahrain became independent from Britain. It is certainly extraordinary for any country to have one person dominating the day-to-day government affairs for more than 30 years. Worse yet, he is an active businessman—owning several top hotels including Le Royal Meridien and Regency as well as travel agencies, not to mention the practice of serving as agent for a number of foreign firms. Sheikh Khalifa’s businesses are controlled through his United Group or Unitag. Businessmen in Bahrain complain of unfair competition from Sheikh Khalifa since Unitag can put its hand on any worthy business opportunity, not least because it does not play by the rule and is exempted from paying government fees. For years, Sheikh Khalifa has developed a taste for the practice of land reclamation at government expense and then selling it in smaller allotments. For instance, he sold a plot of land to Citibank for more than US$10m to set up its regional headquarters in the Seef district, west of Manama. Fortunately, following repeated complaints by environmentalist groups, the government has recently made a commitment to stop the practice of land reclamation for the next fifty years.
The prime minister’s son, Shiekh Ali serves minister of transport & communications—widely regarded as not fit for his job. As such, Bahrain International Airport (BIA) falls under his authority. Under his tenure, BIA has lost to competition from Dubai, which in turn has emerged as the leading airport in the region. A number of airliners, including Air France, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines stopped flying to BIA. More importantly, Shiekh Ali controls Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco), a cash rich monopoly firm that reported a net profit of BD52.29m in 2001 ($139m). Many of Batelco’s customers complain of high charges and bad services.
The defence minister is Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Khalifa. He was named to the job basically for being a close associate of Sheikh Hamad, the current ruler. Sheikh Hamad, who was then serving as the Crown Prince, created the defence force in the 1960s, and has always fallen under his control. Then there is, Sheikh Abdullah bin Salman al-Khalifa, the minister of electricity & water, and the former military top man. He was appointed to the job following the death of Sheikh Daej, the father in law of Crown Prince Salman, in a London hospital in 2001. Sheikh Abdullah is accused of mismanagement—the electricity service currently suffers from repeated failures thus promising residents and business owners a long, hot summer.
Oil minister Sheikh Isa bin Ali al-Khalifa is noted for his unique corruptive practices. He is said to have a machine in office, which he uses to count the cash he receives in return for granting jobs to contractors. Local contractors know that they risk losing future businesses in case they fail to provide a “gift” to Sheikh Ali. It is believed that Sheikh Ali stands to loose his portfolio in the planned government reshuffle in late 2002 mainly because King Hamad is annoyed with his practices. But Sheikh Salman, the prime minister’s youngest son, is the closest aide to Sheikh Ali and is said to have put his eye on this lucrative portfolio. Currently, Sheikh Salman controls Bahrain Petroleum Company, which is undergoing a major modernisation programme, and that in turn translates into big commission money
By all standards it is a bad taste to have father and son serving ministers in the same government. But that is no strange in Bahrain. Sheikh Abdullah bin Khaled al-Khalifa has been serving as minister of justice & Islamic affairs while his son Sheikh Khaled bin Abdullah al-Khalifa has occupied the job of minister of housing. During the weekly cabinet meeting, Sheikh Abdullah and Sheikh Khaled in turn kiss the nose of Sheikh Khalifa, the prime minister. Sheikh Abdullah has passed the retirement age, and definitely there are qualified persons to replace him. Sheikh Khaled is said to have earned a substantial amount of money from selling pricey lands and favours at the Seef district.
The minister of interior Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al-Khalifa has long presided over the most infamous ministry in Bahrain. Under his term that extends from the 1970s, the interior ministry has caused the killing of tens of innocent Bahrainis while imprisoning and torturing thousands others. Numerous international organisations have condemned the practices of the interior ministry but that has not convinced the government to remove Sheikh Mohammed from his post. Worse yet, colonel Adel Flaifel, fled the country last month despite an alleged government ban against his travel. Flaifel has been working for the criminal and now disbanded Bahrain Security & Intelligence Service (BSIS), which has been directly responsible for the suffering of hundreds of families, whose loved ones had been imprisoned and ill-treated merely on suspicion of working against the regime. At the minimum, Sheikh Mohammed should have been sacked from his job following the fleeing of Flaifel, from the airport, whose security is controlled by the interior ministry.
Last and not least, there is Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak al-Khalifa, minister of foreign affairs, who has occupied the portfolio for the last three decades. It is rumored that he would assume a new portfolio—deputy prime minister. One pitfall of Sheikh Mohammed—he insisted on naming his younger brother but inexperienced Sheikh Abdel Aziz to the high profile post of Bahrain’s ambassador to the UK for several years until 2001. Needless to say, Bahrain’s head of state is Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, who unilaterally declared himself king in February 2002 while his eldest son Sheikh Salman is heir to the throne. All in all, under al-Khalifa rule, Bahrain is truly a one family affair.
Bahrain Freedom Movement3 June 2002
Tel/Fax +44 207 387 2492