Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bahrain Update

From Angry Arab's chief Bahrain correspondent:  "This Wallstreet journal article is about the Khawalid, a dangerous fanction of the royal family. They are extremely sectarian and known for their hatred of shia. I have written to you a lot about Khalid Bin Ahmad, the minister of the royal court, and Khalifa Bin Ahmad (commander in chief of the BDF). They are responsible for a lot of what happened in Bahrain during the crackdown and what is happening today. I have no doubt that the Khawalid wield a lot of power. However this article makes the King look like some innocent weakling that is being controlled by the Khawalid. There is no proof of this (there is a lot of evidence on the other hand that the crown prince has no power and is not liked by the Khawalid - does not mean he's good or believes in democracy - just means that they disagree) . King Hamad does not have a weak personality like his father (who was clearly controlled by the Prime Minister) and he was strong enough to take on his uncle the Prime Minister from the beginning. He also never made any reconciliatory gestures towards the opposition. I am told that Crown Prince's talks with the opposition at the beginning and his appearance on Bahrain TV were on his own initiative and he had to convince his father to allow him to negotiate (though he clearly had no power to implement anything) - the article implies that the King strong backed the Crown Prince). If the King was so agains the Khawalid, why didn't he fire the minister of the royal court a long time ago? In fact, one could argue that before the uprising, the King was using the Khawalid to consolidate his power and weaken his uncle the Prime Minister (who never liked the Khawalid - of course they banded together after the uprising because of the threat from the people). I unfortunately cannot analyze the dynamics of the royal family. I do not have enough knowledge of what is going on and I find the King to be very difficult to read. However I have yet to come across a Bahraini whether they want a constitutional monarchy or a republic, that thinks that the King is just a weak figurehead. There are many people (though less than before) that believe that the Crown Prince is a good alternative. But even the most moderate of the opposition will not say this about the King.  Other than that, I do agree with a lot of what the article says and I do think there is a push to shift the succession from the Crown Prince to Nasser Bin Hamad (the Kings 25 year old son from his third or fourth wife). I just have a problem with portraying the King as weak."