Foreign Military Personnel Still in BDF: When will Ruling Family Put End to Naturalization Cost?

2019-11-10 - 5:56 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Despite their high cost, it seemed like good news to find, while reviewing the final report of the state for 2018, there are still unnaturalized soldiers in the Bahrain Defence Force, in a country that has insanely naturalized tens of thousands of foreigners for political purposes.

Under the recurrent expenses, the Bahrain Defence Force has disbursed 7,200,000 dinars as bonuses to foreign military personnel, but there are no further details on the numbers of these soldiers and disbursement of these huge financial rewards.

If this amount of money is spent on rewards only, how much does the Defence Force spend on wages, allowances, housing expenses and services for the families and children of these members? There are questions always raised about the costs of naturalized military personnel and civilians in the country?

How much do these naturalized persons cost the Defence Force and security services? What services do they provide to the royal family? Bahrainis are more than ever aware of the danger of political naturalization to the country's future.

The Bahraini government does not provide real figures on the number of naturalized people who were naturalized since King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa came to power, but opposition parties estimate that more than 150,000 people have been naturalized.

The naturalized people added a huge financial burden to Bahrain's economy. Bahrain's public debt in 2001 was less than $3 billion, but today, it exceeds $37 billion, according to the National Audit Office report.

Of course, we can't say that naturalization is the only reason behind this increase in debt; however, it is one of the factors that led to this dramatic rise, along with corruption and political unrest that have shook the country since the king abandoned the 2002 reform promises.

The financial cost of providing health care, housing services, education and other free government services to tens of thousands of naturalized people has doubled the levels of public budget deficits, in addition to causing other economic and political implications.

Every job assumed by a political naturalized person means depriving a Bahraini of a job, and every housing service means adding more Bahrainis to waiting lists in all regions, let alone the amount of money these naturalized transfer to their homelands.

Early last year, Saudi citizens became irritated by naturalization in Bahrain after the naturalized citizens began to rival them in trade and small businesses, taking advantage of the privileges granted to GCC citizens. This prompted Saudi Interior Minister Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef Al Saud to visit Bahrain to protest its government's policy.

If a few hundreds or thousands of naturalized people have affected business owners in a large country and economy like Saudi Arabia, what are the implications of having tens of thousands of naturalized people in a small country like Bahrain?

Although Bahrain seeks to restore fiscal balance, there is no seriousness in addressing this costly issue on the country's finances and economy. A brave political decision could allow the country to avoid further political and economic hardships.

This project has not provided the ruling family with the security or political stability it aspired to achieve. Nonetheless, it contributed to its involvement in major local and regional crises, and will continue to affect it. There is no doubt that the cost of terminating this project is much lower than proceeding with it.

Arabic Version