Bahrain's Crown Prince and Dissociation from Identity
2023-11-24 - 4:36 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, delivered a speech last Friday at the 19th edition of the Manama Dialogue Conference. His characterization of the situation in Gaza provoked angry reactions from supporters of the Palestinian cause, while it was welcomed by others, specifically the Israeli media.
Despite wearing traditional Gulf clothing, he chose to speak English not Arabic, deviating from the protocol that typically expects officials to use their country's language. However, this is tolerated if the official's address takes place outside his country's borders and in a foreign country that doesn't speak the same language. This means it is reasonable if the crown prince speaks English in Washington, although some prefer to speak their country's language wherever they go, out of pride in what they represent and who they represent, but to speak in your country in a foreign language, being its Crown Prince and Prime Minister, is another matter altogether.
This departure raises questions about his commitment to representing Bahrain, its identity and the people. While condemning Hamas in his speech and describing their attack as barbaric, using Israeli rhetoric, thousands of Bahrainis across the small island were flooding the streets in protests, waving Palestinian flags. That day even witnessed a march in the Muharraq island for the first time since the beginning of the aggression, in which the Sunni community participated.
In the same vein, during his speech, it was evident that the Crown Prince was showing off his good accent and fluent English, hinting at a desire to align with Western perspectives, potentially seeking approval, just as the King of Jordan does when speaking English in front of a foreign journalist or official. It is an inferiority complex that possesses the seeker of admiration and approval of the white man. His lack of commitment to Arabic in Manama reflects a detachment from the local context and culture.
The content of the speech also drew criticism for overlooking the historical context of the occupation, when he decided to condemn Hamas and disregard the real reason behind what happened on October 7. The Crown Prince's condemnation of Hamas seemed disconnected from the collective memory of the Palestinian struggle. As an Arab country, Bahrain as in the people remember the Nakba and everything between and beyond. The massacres committed by the Israeli killing machine are etched in our memories, from the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948, Sabra and Shatila in 1982, Qana in 1996, and the recent Gaza massacres in 2023. It is difficult for an Arab not to conjure up all these scenes in one's conscience while talking about the Arab-Israeli conflict, whatever one's point of view of the solution is. However, the crown prince of the ruling family decided to speak like any Westerner who has nothing to do with this conflict or isn't even aware of its details, but his speech is certainly not caused by a lack of knowledge. What he said is the inevitable result of the enthusiastic rush to normalize with this entity despite the categorical, firm and almost comprehensive popular rejection of this hateful step.
Three years ago, when the regime decided to proceed with normalization, it said at the time, the UAE as well, that it aims to build bridges with the Zionist entity and initially framed the process as an effort to advocate for Palestinians, and reach a fair solution to the issue that has been haunting us for 75 years, but time showed us the opposite. The UAE-Bahrain normalization with Israelis has instead provided a green light for more Israeli aggression and massacres.
The Crown Prince's speech, seen as a departure from Arab and Islamic identity, further solidifies Bahrain's alignment with the enemy with its normalization process, raising concerns about its stance on Palestinian rights.
In essence, Salman bin Hamad's speech signifies a troubling leap toward the liquidation of the Palestinian cause, making Salman bin Hamad and the Bahraini regime complicit in the suffering and bloodshed of Palestinians.