Bahrain King: Opposition’s demands hijacked by extremist elements with ties to foreign governments

April 20, 2011

Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa has stressed that stability was at the top of the country’s priorities, but said reforms would continue.

“Today we are trying very hard to improve the process of reform and rectify those problems that have arisen along the way. Sectarian divide has created a schism in our society that is a major challenge,” King Hamad wrote in a commentary published by the Washington Times on Wednesday.

“As monarch of all Bahrainis, it pains me to see many harmed by the actions of a few. And yet I am optimistic and have faith in our people. We all realise that now is the time to strike a balance between stability and gradual reform, always adhering to the universal values of human rights, free expression and religious tolerance,” King Hamad wrote.

The monarch said he was confident Bahrainis could strike this balance in cooperation with their long-time friend and ally and produce an outcome that would preserve the aspirations of the country’s young democracy in transition.

Beyond the imperative of stability, the most important priority is job creation for all Bahrainis, King Hamad, who became ruler in 1999, wrote.

Bahrain in February and March went through political turmoil that divided the nation, mainly along sectarian lines. Officials say they appreciate the grievances expressed by protesters and offered a national dialogue to address them, but blamed extremists for the stalling of the talks and the dramatic developments that ensued.

“There is no doubt that grievances about civil and political rights for all Bahrainis are legitimate. In response, we offered an unconditional dialogue with the opposition so as to maintain the stability of our country and address the demands for reform,” King Hamad wrote.

“Unfortunately, the legitimate demands of the opposition were hijacked by extremist elements with ties to foreign governments in the region. It became very clear that the stability, safety and economic viability of our country were being threatened.”

King Hamad said Bahrain “took immediate action to stabilise the situation”.

“At the same time, we welcomed the entry of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) troops, whose task was not to suppress the protesters, as some of our neighbours have alleged, but to protect the essential and crucial facilities and installations in Bahrain.”

Decisions were taken for the stability and safety of Bahrain and the region as well, he said.

“Bahrain lies at the epicenter of Gulf security and any violent upheaval in Bahrain would have enormous geopolitical consequences. Global economic stability depends on the uninterrupted export of crude oil from the Gulf to markets around the world – a job that historically has been assigned to the US Fifth Fleet. Seventy per cent of the world’s remaining oil reserves are in the Gulf and more than 30 per cent of the oil from the region flows through the territorial waters of Bahrain,” King Hamad wrote.

“The Gulf countries, for their part, shoulder the responsibility to protect these reserves and ensure the safety and security of the oil tankers and the oil pipelines that carry them to the world. These pipelines extend thousands of kilometres throughout the Arabian Peninsula.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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