Why Did the Saudi Foreign Minister Disregard the Manama Dialogue Forum?

2021-11-27 - 12:10 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): For some reason, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa missed the opening of the Manama Dialogue 2021, organized annually by Bahrain in cooperation with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and sent one of his deputies (Mohammed bin Mubarak) in his place. For some reason as well, the Saudi Foreign Minister deliberately ignored the conference, although the official agenda of the forum announced him as a speaker.

The conference was launched on November 19, 2021 by Deputy Prime Minister Mohammad bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, and the opening speech was given to Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, who is accused of committing vast human rights violations in his country, and was banned from entering the U.S. for 20 years.

On the second day of the conference (November 21), he was supposed to be the second speaker after the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, but John Chipman, Director General and CEO of the International Institute for Strategic Studies informed the audience that Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud would not be able to attend and participate due to his illness and that he had contacted him and noted that his voice was tired and that his participation was not possible.

However, in the evening, the conference attendees noted that the state news agency published a piece of news stating that the Saudi Foreign Minister received in his office at the ministry in Riyadh, vice president of the Federal Council and Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis.

Saudis were sending a clear message of disregard towards the forum and the host country. Did the Saudi minister avoid attending because of his country's coldness towards Bahrain, or in order to avoid direct talks with the Israeli delegation headed by National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata?

The Bahraini authorities focused on the Israeli delegation, and the Forum was an important platform for the Zionist delegation, which reached out to all parties present at the conference, including countries that do not have relations with their occupying entity. AFP took the most important photos of the conference, a friendly side-by-side conversation between Israeli Ambassador to Bahrain Itai Tigner and Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, which Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth described as an extraordinary meeting.

Former Saudi intelligence head Prince Turki Al-Faisal who doesn't currently hold any official post attended the conference and wanted to show clear displeasure, asking two questions to Israeli National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata and National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk.

Al-Faisal asked why the Israeli entity's nuclear weapons were not being dismantled as long as everyone is working on dismantling the Iranian nuclear power.

The US official ignored Prince Turki's question about the necessity of going to a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons, while the Israeli security official responded by saying that the entity does not threaten the stability of the region.

Arabic Version