Why Didn't Bahrain King Participate in Kuwaiti Emir Funeral?
2020-10-08 - 7:45 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The Bahraini government demonstrated unexpected alienation in their stance towards the death of Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Ahmad Al-Sabah, who was honored by the United Nations in 2014 as a "global humanitarian leader". Compared to Oman, which ordered the closure of the state's ministries for three days and its Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said, who went to Kuwait and met with Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and offered his condolences, and also to Qatar, whose Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, was the first to attend the funeral of the late ruler, and was the only ruler who took part in the funeral procession, Bahrain's stance was similar to that of the UAE. It was cold and dry as it only declared three days of mourning and flags to be flown at half-mast.
On September 29, 2020, upon Emir Sheikh Sabah's demise, employees and workers in Bahrain wondered whether the public mourning declaration reported by state media meant halting work in state ministries and bodies. The answer was: No. The Royal Court of Bahrain issued a protocol statement similar to all the statements it issues on the death of any head of state, as if the deceased was not a great prince who stood with the Kingdom of Bahrain in good and bad times alike and was the largest contributor to the Gulf Marshal project for saving Bahrain's finances from bankruptcy.
Bahrain's position was odd even compared to Saudi Arabia, as King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud personally made a phone call to Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad expressing his condolences, which he also voiced in a message he posted on his official Twitter account. Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa did nothing of this sort.
After three days of delay, he sent his son, Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, to offer condolences in a much less-than-expected gesture to a country that was the first Gulf state to implement what was agreed on in 2011 by providing a $2.5 billion grant to Bahrain, $250 million a year over a period of 10 years to adapt to the causes and repercussions of local political and economic events. Under the leadership of its late Emir Sheikh Sabah, Kuwait was one of three prominent Gulf countries that contributed to Bahrain's 2019 financial balance program by providing $10 billion in aid over a span of five years to ease pressure on debt and currency markets.
The Bahraini king does not suffer any symptoms or illness that would explain his failure to participate personally and reciprocate Kuwaiti friendliness and generosity towards his country, in the same fashion, especially on such a painful occasion like the death of its emir. King Hamad was a guest of King Salman in Riyadh in December 2019 and a guest of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for 3 days in November 2019 and a participant in the Gulf Summit in December 2018. This can only be explained by considering this to be in the framework of Bahrain's reservations about Kuwait's independent position on the Gulf dispute, which the king's advisor for diplomatic affairs Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa had previously expressed in a conversation with the former head of "Asharq Al-Awsat" newspaper Salman Al-Dosari, saying that "Kuwait is the country most required to make a clear position now; pressure it now."
However, amid this official absence, Bahraini people voiced solidarity and expressed grief over Emir Sheikh Sabah's demise. Bloggers on social media reflected these sentiments heavily. Al-Wefaq, the largest Bahraini opposition group, also issued a statement of condolence in which it revealed for the first time that an initiative was made by the late emir for the release of its Secretary General, Sheikh Ali Salman, but was rejected by the government. "May god have mercy on the late Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who has an Arab position consistent with the position of Kuwaitis in rejecting normalization with the Zionist occupation, the leader who has spared Kuwait from entering conflicts, wars and destructive regional alliances," wrote Ibrahim Sharif, former Secretary-General of Wa'ad Society.