Murad Al-Hayiki: Players with Fire, Future of Bahrain and its People

2019-07-31 - 2:48 am

On July 14, Al-Jazeera channel broadcast a new episode of its investigative program "What's Hidden is Worse" entitled "Players with Fire", through which it highlighted two issues related to Bahrain. The first is the Bahraini authorities' narrative that the protesters at the Pearl [Lualua] Roundabout in 2011 were armed, and the second is regarding the supposed cooperation between the Bahraini security authorities and citizens with jihadist ideology who have links with Al-Qaeda.

The episode sparked widespread controversy among a large segment of Bahrainis, and its repercussions are still ongoing. The authority's reaction shows the magnitude of the anger against Al-Jazeera and Qatar. The reasons for this anger are the direct accusation of the head of the regime in Bahrain and the notorious National Security Agency (state security apparatus) of recruiting citizens Mohammad Saleh Al-Marbati and Hisham Al-Baloushi, who belong to a jihadist movement linked to Al-Qaeda, to assassinate some opposition leaders and figures from the Shiite sect, and giving them foreign espionage roles.

The second reason is the appearance of a lieutenant colonel in the Bahraini army, Yasser Al-Jalahma, who said that he was the commander of the special military battalion that was assigned to disperse the protest staged at Lualua Roundabout and Al-Salmaniya hospital, and the appearance of the dissident Mohammad Al-Bouflasa, also a former military man, who was arrested in 2011 after his participation in the popular protests.

The government's angry reaction even preceded the airing of the episode. The state newspapers, under official directives, demonized Al-Jazeera and the figures who were to appear in the program, deeming them traitors who are carrying out an Iranian-Qatari agenda aimed at "destabilizing" Bahrain's security and "undermining" its unity. The columnists exaggerated the issue. One of them even published an article in Al-Watan newspaper on the details of the episode and names of figures that will appear in it, which was later revealed to be nonsense.

Following the broadcast of the episode, the regime's anger intensified, except the Prime Minister's Office, which issued no official direct stance. Statements were issued on behalf of the Jalahama and Boufalasa families disowning Yasser and Mohammed, and affirming the family's loyalty to the King of Bahrain and their ultimate rejection of Al-Jazeera's film. Several families then issued statements of loyalty and allegiance. Bahrainis heard for the first time about tribes and families said to be Bahraini!

This was followed by a statement by the Bahrain Defense Force accusing Lt. Col. Yasser Al-Jalahma of recruiting "cluster spy cells" for Qatar, saying he was sentenced to death by military courts. This was the first time this issue was mentioned, although Al-Jalahma has been in Qatar for years.

I am not concerned here with the real reasons behind the aired episode, as talking about this issue is considered an escape from the content of the episode, which revealed once again the lie of the so-called reform project whose slogans we've been occupied with for the past 18 years, to find ourselves again before an authority that calls for false loyalties from tribes, and not a state of institutions and law which the National Action Charter promised.

In 2001, we were promised a constitutional monarchy similar to the ancient constitutional monarchies. We were promised an independent legislative authority that represents the popular will. We were promised freedoms and political action, respect for human rights, participation in decision-making, and the beautiful days that we have not lived yet.

On the other side of these promises, the Bahraini citizens today live in a state controlled by the security apparatus. You can get no job without a security blessing, no free press, no parliament with powers, no deputies representing popular will, no political action, and daily human rights violations.

In addition to all of this, we have been afflicted with political naturalization, which has strained the state budget and the people. After the bringing in of "mercenaries" was confined to the ministries of police and defence, now all state agencies and institutions are using them, to the extent that they have become the facade of the "country and its defenders" in the local and foreign media, such as Mohammed Al-Arab, Amjad Taha and others who are earning money at the expense of national unity and the just demands of the people of Bahrain.

Their role hasn't been limited to defending the political regime in Bahrain only, as they started, through the channels provided to them, distributing patriotism and treason certificates to whoever they wish, and threatening the nation's citizens, who oppose the regime policy, with crushing, beating and exposing their "scandals". Some of them went as far as to target and defame the families of these citizens. Unfortunately, they are driven by the security apparatus and decision makers who provide them with information collected or fabricated by their informants.

Perhaps the episode of "Players with Fire" revealed the exploitation of the political system and its security apparatuses of some "Jihadi" elements in Bahrain in its conflict with the opposition, and perhaps the testimony of one of the senior security leaders revealed the falsity of the government's narrative that claimed that demonstrators were heavily armed. However, it is certain that the episode revealed the weakness of the political system and "reform project".

The "Players with Fire" episode disclosed that the Bahraini citizen has no value and that the regime is ready to incite families against their sons just to give itself legitimacy that it doesn't deserve.

There is no regime that cannot be changed, although I believe that the support of the major powers in the region and the West is preventing it. Many changes are taking place in the world and the countries of the region; changes that will not be interrupted by a security grip, deceptive loyalties and alliances with more reactionary regimes. The solution lies in returning to the National Action Charter and the commitments of the regime to establish a state whose constitution and powers are based on the popular will.

Three issues must be addressed quickly before we cross the line of no return, the issue of political reform by the direct release of all political prisoners and allowing all forces and parties to practice public political work. In addition to the constitutional issue, i.e. referring to the National Charter and calling for the election of a constituent committee and for a comprehensive national dialogue. The third is the matter of compensation and conciliation with victims of violations committed by security agencies. Otherwise, it is a play with fire that threatens the future of Bahrain and its people.