How Bahraini PM Can Benefit from His Father and Uncle's Reigns
2020-12-23 - 9:59 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Bahrain's Crown Prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the prime minister and future king, has two two examples of governance experience he could look up to and benefit from greatly: his father and uncle.
His father, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, began his reign with partial reforms that marked a political breakthrough for three painful decades. However, his main problem is that his faith in reform was not complete. He wanted to gain all the power he can get a hold even if that required resorting to monopoly and authoritativeness, while allowing "formal" reforms.
He allowed the return of parliamentary and municipal life, but failed to make them based on consensus, having real powers. Even if so, the long-standing political movement with its long history could have adapted and coexisted reluctantly, if it wasn't for his other serious problem; leaving an extremist wing of his family to grow and work, until it ruined everything; head of the royal court Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed with his two right hands, the commander of the Bahrain Defence Force, Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed, and the Minister of Follow-up at the Royal Court, Sheikh Ahmed bin Atiyatullah.
On the contrary, the late Prime Minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman did not rule formally as a facade, but rather was the de facto ruler and commander throughout the reign of his brother Sheikh Isa bin Salman, who's the father of the current king.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman never believed in the "reform" project, neither in form nor in substance, even during the period when the word "reform" became a staple of political discourse. He was constantly telling his visitors in his council that the correct word to be used was "development" because the mere use of the word "reform" meant that his reign was corrupt. In his view, it was not, although it was.
He has always believed in the iron fist, and the no-dialogue with the parties of popular political action. But like his nephew, i.e. the king, he failed to take a decisive approach against the danger posed by his family's wing led by the court minister. It is true that he was suspicious of him and his team, especially after the appointment of Sheikh Ahmed bin Atiyatullah as Minister of Cabinet Affairs (2005), who was effectively a spy on him, but at the same time did not do what was necessary to limit his influence.
He ended up becoming one of his preys, as we have all seen in the last days and months before his death.
How can the crown prince and Prime Minister Sheikh Salman bin Hamad benefit from these two experiences? Whether he wants to become a formal reformer like his father, or a blunt oppressor like his uncle, he has one thing to pay attention to before it is too late, and so that he won't be devoured as his father and uncle was: Al-Khawalid.
He should not be lenient at all with what Sheikh Ahmed bin Atiyatullah began in the beginning of his reign by launching what is known as the "electronic army", as he started playing juvenile games under dubious calls such as "defending Bahrain" and "fighting the traitors", while it has not been a week since his inauguration.