Even the head of the National Unity Assembly Dr. Abdullatif Al-Mahmood (a prominent pro-government leader) believes that the angel of death is able to relieve Bahrain from its suffocating crisis by seizing the Prime Minister’s, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, life.
Al-Mahmood voiced this opinion in the tent of the national freedom fighter the late Abdul Rahman Al-Naimi, the historical leader of the opposition movement “Waad”, during the reception organized for his well-wishers upon his return from exile in February 2000.
In his speech, which was addressed to the public, Al-Mahmood mentioned that Bahrain went through tough times, and is supposed to be in a better position especially after the death of “one person”, referring to the late Amir, Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who passed away in March 1999. His death had increased hopes regarding the reformist slogans brought by Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, which may find their way for implementation. At that time, Hamad had the title of an Amir and did not declare himself king. An extraordinary feeling had prevailed because the country was about to enter a serious phase of national reconciliation. Unfortunately, the Bahraini dream had turned into a nightmare.
In the same speech, which was requested by Al-Naimi, Al-Mahmood stated that Bahrain would not rest, in full, unless the angel of death “took the life of another person” referring to the Prime Minister, who was the de facto ruler of the country.
In October 2004, the human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is sentenced to life imprisonment, went beyond that. He raised his hands to pray: God, please relieve us from the person whose death will be a relief to us and to all faithful believers. This was part of a famous comment by Al-Khawaja in Al Oruba Club, in which he labeled the Prime Minster for being responsible for poverty in Bahrain. Al-Khawaja called for Khalifa’s exclusion and prayed for his death. Although the death call is considered controversial, this demand, prayer, or desire was and still is what people actually wish for in Bahrain. Moreover, this wish is consistent with the mutually agreed upon point of view of Dr. Abdullatif Al-Mahmood and Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, although they differ in almost everything else.
A lot of people are preoccupied with the health of the Prime Minister and many believe that his death may relieve the country and the people, and open the prospect of a political settlement in Bahrain.
This perception is almost unanimously agreed upon within the royal family, loyalists, oppositionists, regional countries, and Western countries. Everyone believes the intervention of fate and destiny in the death of the Prime Minister might be a way out of crisis in this strategically located island.
To begin, I wish everybody a long life. Although I suppose that the departure of the Prime Minister, whether by a heavenly or earthly decision, may reduce the current tensions, I am questioning if it actually constitutes an exceptional contribution for a wider prospect in Bahrain due to the following reasons:
- First, the Prime Minister has little authority in the country. I have written about it a lot, especially in my book, “The structure of tyranny in Bahrain: a study in the balance of power inside the ruling family“, which was based on the proposition that Hamad, not Khalifa, is the cause of deadlock in the country, as he is the de facto ruler of the country, not the Prime Minister, as some people imagine.
- Second, the departure of the Prime Minister may create important and necessary relief in this unstable situation, but it remains a temporary one. His withdrawal does not change the constitutional structure where power is concentrated in the hands of the head of the country, and not in the hands of the Prime Minister, unlike the case in the 1973 Constitution which gives the Council of Ministers “dominance” on the policies of the country. During Hamad’s rule, this council has shifted to an executive committee only, while the decision resides in the palace.
- Third, the deep-rooted tyranny is imbedded within the ruling family members, surpassing people. It is more like an incurable chronic disease and is common among the ruling elite.
- Fourth, people’s demands are ambitious and almost topple the rule from the hands of the Al-Khalifa family, where the opposition is demanding people’s rule, not the partnership in power.
Although the departure of the Prime Minister may ease the situation, it might open huge issues for the regime and its regional and Western supporters. These issues resemble the doors of hell to the people because the regime will proceed further to dilute the current situation through a dialogue of public relations and formalities rather than serious negotiations.
Khalifa‘s departure may also give an opportunity for the opposition to access some of the so-called reformist routes, under the claims of testing the anticipated change or through the claim that the Prime Minister was the fundamental problem of the country. In fact, it is clear that after 15 years of King Hamad’s rule: Bahrain is in a deplorable state.
Bahraini people have profound and authentic faith in God and predestination, so it is not strange for them to believe that only fate and destiny will unveil this nation’s sorrow. The Quran clearly states that “Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” while history indicates that the change of rulers, prime ministers, ministers, and managers does not change much, unless people shift to a new approach.