Salman bin Hamad Starts his Reign by Dismissing Dozens of "Old Guards" in Cabinet, What's Next?

2021-03-03 - 10:34 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Three months following the death of late Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman, Salman bin Hamad started his government reign by appointing his team and people close to him. With the help of his father, the king, the crown prince dismissed dozens of the "old guards" who are considered followers of his uncle, who headed the government since the Independence.

Formally, the 13 royal decrees were issued while the king's plane was on its way to the United Arab Emirates to spend a "private vacation". This is a measure the gulf rulers used to follow when taking important decisions that would lead to the dissatisfaction of a wing of the ruling family or powerful party, in order to prevent them from complaining to the ruler under the excuse that "he is outside the country/not in the palace" or "he is in another place spending a private vacation".

Of course, Salman bin Hamad has taken over the reins of the government since Khalifa bin Salman was still alive, especially after the funding Bahrain obtained from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, whose conditions were to give broad powers to Salman bin Hamad, who now has a monopoly on decisions to appoint directors in the government, until the powers of Khalifa bin Salman diminished to preside over the weekly cabinet and his powers became limited to issuing circulars on the holidays only.

However, with his powers to appoint directors, Salman bin Hamad remained surrounded by political boundaries and norms through which he could not bypass his "Dear Uncle" and his team. Since the announcement of his death, Salman bin Hamad has not made any decisions rebelling against the old guard. Going back to the archives, we find that the number of appointments (since the death of Khalifa bin Salman) did not exceed seven, the most important of which was the appointment of Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa as a director of Job Evaluation at the Civil Service Bureau.

Everyone was waiting for that moment when Salman bin Hamad announced the appointments in sensitive positions, especially in the prime minister's office, as well as the step that took place on February 15, although long-awaited, but expected. We can say that it wrote the beginning of the end for the wing of Khalifa bin Salman.

However, on the political level, the crown prince has not made any progress, despite the fact that more than 100 days have passed since he took office. On the contrary, we witnessed a decline represented in freezing the implementation of the alternative penalty law which was positively observed by some activists and human rights activists, noting that the death penalties against political prisoners haven't been abolished yet. It was expected that their sentences be commuted to life imprisonment. In addition, Al-Ghuraifi's meeting with the king remained just an out-of-context meeting that has not been followed by any step that holds any political weight.

But it is certain that since February 15, we have entered the era of the government of Salman bin Hamad, who has become fully in control of the decisions of the Cabinet. He and the king have become in control of all aspects of the state, and it is expected that the coming period will carry changes that may affect the Cabinet through limited cabinet amendments that would dismiss who is left of the "old guards". Many people are silently and cautiously following what the upcoming period may carry again at the political level, which may lead to creating "a calm climate" that will pave the way for a political dialogue, which could end the stalemate the country has been experiencing for years.

Here are the decisions issued by Salman bin Hamad since the demise of Khalifa bin Salman (even before February 15):

-          Edict 26/2020, appointing Mohammed bin Isa bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa as Director of Job Evaluation at the Civil Service Bureau (CSB)- December 1, 2020.

-          Edict 27/2020, transferring and appointing directors at Customs Affairs at the Ministry of Interior. Under the edict, Waleed Yousif Mubarak Ajoor, the Director of Planning and Customs Policies was transferred over to serve as the Director of Customs Clearance, and Muneera bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa is to be appointed as Director of Customs Licensing and Customer Services, at the Customs Affairs at the Ministry of Interior- December 27, 2020.

-          Edict 1/2021, appointing Luma Abbas Al-Mahroos as Director of the Environmental Assessment and Control Directorate at the Supreme Council for Environment (SCE)- January 4, 2021.

-          Edict 2/2021, appointing Mohammed Jaffar Ali Al-Hussaini as Director of the Jaffari Endowments Directorate- January 4, 2021.

-          Edict 3/2021, appointing Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Khairi as Director of the Minors' Funds and Affairs Directorate at the Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments- January 4, 2021.

-          Edict 4/2021, appointing Rashid Salah Abdulla Al-Jalahma as Director of Human and Financial Resources Directorate at the National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA)- January 4, 2021.

-          Edict 8/2021 appointing two directors at the National Cybersecurity Centre. Under the edict, Ahmed Isa Ahmed Abulfateh and Ali Mohammed Ahmed Al Zayani are appointed, respectively, as National Response director and Cyber Protection director- January 28, 2021.

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