Future visions

30 Jan, '07

Bahrain is the second country after Oman to publicly state that it won’t make it to the 2010 Gulf single currency target. The crown prince said in a comprehensive interview with McKenzie Quarterly (also reported in Arabic in Al-Waqt yesterday) that the main economic factors – inflation metrics, jobs, fiscal policies, transparency, etc – are still disparate between member states which will make it difficult to climb on-board.

الوحدة النقدية
وعن رؤيته الى تحول دول المنطقة الى كتلة اقتصادية واحدة في ظل التخطيط للوحدة النقدية مع حلول العام 2010، قال سمو ولي العهد «على رغم وجود الإرادة السياسية لتحقيق ذلك إلا أنني أشك في تحقق ذلك في العام 2010 بسبب عدد من القضايا الفنية التي تحتاج الى نقاش قبل توحيد العملة، من بين هذه القضايا تقريب معايير التضخم، الدين العام، وأسعار الفائدة» مشيرا الى أن الوحدة النقدية تتطلب أن تتجه حكومات المنطقة الى مزيد من الشفافية في موازناتها بالإضافة الى أن نجاح هذه العملية يعتمد على إنشاء بنك مركزي قوي ومستقل ليقرر السياسة النقدية.

Fair enough. But one would have hoped that after 28 years of being in the Gulf Cooperation Council that these factors would have already been sorted a long time ago. Or at least put in the fast-track priority list. I guess they’re busy with other things more important.

The crown prince also amplified on various aspects of reforms he is spearheading: political, economic, labour, education reforms. All of which he should be definitely helped with without reservation, because in them is the paramount good for the country rather than the benefit of a small group of people.

When you read something by him or listen to him speak, it is hard not to get pulled in by his charismatic personality. One wants to believe the guy. Seriously. And hope that this feeling will continue. He’s viewed at the moment by the majority of the people that he is the only sincere person we have, and thus, a lot of people are pinning all their hopes on him. An onerous task, to be sure, but one that I know he will carry responsibly and with panache too!

الوحدة الوطنية
وعن تقييم سموه لتأثير الحرية السياسية الجديدة وعن العلاقة مع البرلمان الجديد، قال سموه إنها «تسير بشكل جيد جدا» مشيرا إلى أن جلالة الملك عرف أنه عندما يكون للمواطنين مشاركتهم في النظام فإنهم يصبحون أكثر انتاجية وقال «لمسنا انعكاس ذلك على الاقتصاد فورا».

واسترسل سموه :»كانت هناك مشكلات كما هو الحال عند إنشاء أي نظام جديد ولكنها ليست مشكلات لايمكن التغلب عليها، أعتقد أن الناس يشعرون بالتمكين من خلال التحولات الجديدة.

وحول قلقه بشأن وجود بعض الفئات خارج النظام السياسي الرسمي، قال سمو ولي العهد إن الديمقراطية تجلب الحرية، وسيكون هناك دائما من يعارض، فالناس في كل مكان من الممكن أن لايرضيهم أي نظام». وقال سموه «أحمد الله أنه توجد هنا آلية لوضع هذه الأفكار موضع التطبيق اذا أيدتها غالبية الآراء أو على الأقل التعبير عنها بشكل سلمي».

وقال سموه :»نحن نود أن نركز على الوحدة الوطنية وأن نبتعد عن التقسيمة السنية- الشيعية فهي لم تكن موجودة في السابق وتفاقمت مع الحالة السياسية لدي جيراننا، فصراع القوة الذي يبلغ عمره جيلا بين ايران والعالم العربي أصبح مسعورا في العراق كما ترى» مشيرا الى أنه «وضع لا يساعدنا ولكنه شيء سوف أواصل محاربته» فجميعنا مواطنون بحرينيون ولا يجب التمييز بين السنة والشيعة»

This is something very important too and it’s good to hear the leadership emphasize once again that they do regard all Bahrainis as equal regardless of the sect they follow and that he does not differentiate between Sunni and Shi’i.

The crown prince of course is one of the top leaders of the country, and it is in his power to change things for the better. Everyone loves him and now has gained an international reputation as a moderate and a statesman. So i hope I will not cross the line by advising him – as a friend – that he should immediately implement policies to those organisations he oversees which will translate all of his excellent positions as articulated in this and other interviews and open the gates of employment to the Shi’a into the armed forces.

This will immediately shut his critics up, but much more importantly provide needed employment and more importantly allow them the honour in serving their country, increase (not establish) their loyalty to this land and have that great feeling of being a productive and important member of the community.

This step will also solidify the crown prince’s position in the community and give him the fodder he needs to surmount the various challenges facing us going forth.

It is good, just like he mentioned in the interview, that we are carrying on with all determination to reform all aspects of the country even in the midst of high oil revenues. This is the visionary approach we need more of in this country, rather than the myopic “me” mentality we have suffered from in the past.

I think you will find that the majority of the country is with the crown prince and our reforms, what is needed now is probably a tangible thing for people to touch so they can continue to believe in his vision, and that tangible thing is not too difficult to effect.

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  1. Yonis’s Room | 31 Jan, '07
  1. riffa4u says:

    try also walkiing and working in the economy . leave your iran based dreams aside also after what happened in iran in 1986 kaaba attack and 1987 the arms cache siezed in from the passengers coming from iran for haj also dont blame the government of bahrain for this as iran once held a claim on bahrain and bahrain has a high number of irani bahrainis , who in the past have also contributed the most towards dystroying the peace in the country and presently do so , if the government does trust then are you ready to respond or will continue to burn and cry

  2. mahmood says:

    Aren’t you tired of this old, worthless, fear mongering, shallow scratched record? All this tirade does is place you in a very bad light to whoever reads it.

    Grow up for goodness sake. Grow up already.

  3. riffa4u says:

    are u trying to say that the shias in bahrain dont bow to iran or in the future will not run on iran orders god sake dont say no i know if these people get ever chance they have tried in the past and are going to do in the future thats why u cannot get job in bahrain military or police or in key positions for your ill acts supporting iran based demands

  4. mahmood says:

    And I suppose you have proof of these allegations? Or is it your mother’s old aunty’s one-eyed daughter’s dwarf son’s friend’s sister said that she heard from a trusted friend’s father who is the janitor of Salmania hospital’s lost & found department who heard from a patient while he was sweeping the gypsum off the floor while the patient was getting measured for a prosthetic left foot (hydraulically and electrically operated) who fell and screamed YA KHUDA in pain that he has never experienced in his 78 years?

  5. Riffa4u, shi’ite population in bahrain generally holds great respect for the religious figures in Iran. That in no way means they are loyal to Iran. Let me set you an analogy for the hope of getting the message to your simple mind,
    I am a Manchester United FC fan.
    I admire Ronaldinho
    Tomorrow, Man U play Barca
    Who am I going to support?

    I am doing my best to resist the temptation to insult you, but people like you do our country no good.

    Mahmood :
    EU took a good 50 years to launch their currency, and if you ask me they should have waited.
    Our economies are less synchronized, and generally have more problems, and less strengths, other than oil!, so if I was given the task of preparing for a smooth transition to a single currency, i’d give us 15 years of reforming atleast.

  6. riffa4u says:

    mahmood i think u should go to the streets and check it for your self not taking a camera sitting with ur ass on a chair or roaming around in places come to the real world and see for ur self and experience then hold a voting on your damn site and see for your self whats the real situation

  7. Anonymous says:

    Riffa4u,
    you are not prepared to carry out a critical discussion about you beliefs so there is no point in arguing with you. You do not even attempt to refute any of our claims, the fact that “you think x” does not make “x is true”
    As a last attempt I would like to point something out for you,
    Back when we were a British colony, and our “infidel invaders” decided to leave they held a referrendum on whether the bahraini population would rather be ruled by alkhalifa or Iran. Some proportion of the originially irani population may have voted for iran, and “bahrani” she’3as had the decisive swing vote, and they almost unanimously voted for alkhalifa. I do not intend to allienate our x-irani population, but I am just saying that the majority of this country will put the interests of Bahrain before Iran regardless of their religious beliefs. So please do not go and try stir up some shit!

  8. isagreatphilosopher says:

    Anonymous is moi in case you want to know who direct your insults at!

  9. mahmood says:

    Ah, it wasn’t your mother who told you that story then Riffa4u, maybe it was your sister? Get them both to call me so I can set them straight and maybe also tell them to drill some manners into you at the same time.

    Once manners are actually restored, and you are ready to discuss things nicely, not at 2nd hand or 100th hand and take the crap you are fed as facts, come back and play with the big boys. For now, this is most definitely not your playground.

    Now scat.

  10. mahmood says:

    Well said isagreatphilosopher.

    Taqi Al-Baharna actually had a very good article in Al-Wasat – if memory serves – were he intricately recalls the negotiations between all sides and he was involved deeply in them as well.

    I should dig up these articles and information about the 1971 referendum and put them up here as we have been referring to that event several times already.

  11. Rancher says:

    This Shia hysteria has at its roots the situation in Iraq (see, it’s Bush’s fault), at least that is the impression I get from this article by Faud Ajami. An excerpt:
    In the fullness of time, the Arab order of power will have to come to a grudging acceptance of the order sure to take hold in Baghdad. This is a region that respects the prerogatives of power. It had once resisted the coming to power of the Alawites in Syria and then learned to accommodate that “heretical” minority sect and its conquest of Damascus; the Shia path in Iraq will follow that trajectory, and its justice is infinitely greater for it is the ascendancy of a demographic majority, through the weight of numbers and the ballot box. Of all Arab lands, Iraq is the most checkered, a frontier country at the crossroads of Arabia, Turkey and Persia. The Sunni Arabs in Iraq and beyond have never accepted the diversity of that land. The “Arabism” of the place was synonymous with their own primacy. Now a binational state in all but name (Arab and Kurdish) has come into being in Iraq, and the Shia underclass have stepped forth and staked a claim commensurate with the weight of their numbers. The Sunni Arabs have recoiled from this change in their fortunes. They have all but “Persianized” the Shia of Iraq, branded them as a fifth column of the state next door. Contemporary Islamism has sharpened this feud, for to the Sunni Islamists the Shia are heretics at odds with the forbidding strictures of the Islamists’ fanatical variant of the faith.
    Read the whole thing. I myself have bought into this idea that Shia = Iran, if only because in Sadr’s case I believe it’s true. Follow the money. This does not mean that if Sadr gains control of Iraq he will be a puppet of the Mullahs, but rather he will be very beholden to Iran, dependent on Iran, and scarred of Iran. He will therefore be very slow to distance himself from Tehran to the detriment of Iraq and the US. That does not mean all Shia take their orders from the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, not even in Iran, but those with substantial monetary connections to Iran can be assumed to be heavily influenced by Iran. I doubt this is the case in Bahrain. What I find ironic is that the US has empowered the Shia in Iraq yet I believe far more Shia are killing our troops than Sunni.

  12. Rancher says:

    Link to my above mentioned article.

    The American Iraq

  13. Thogba says:

    1. I agree with the crown prince on the currency. We should agree on a criteria.

    2. I disagree with the crown prince that there’s no difference between Sunni’s and Shii’s in Bahrain. We haven’t forgotten the Bander gate nor did we forget that Shii’s are deprived even the right to get access to the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

    I work for a reputed training institution in Bahrain. Part of my job in summer in October 2001 was to evaluate trainees doing On Job Training (OJT). One of my trainees was admitted to the MOD for A 3-month training programme. I wanted to see the trainee at his training place at the MOD but they rejected me and told me in words “Shii’s are prohibited from entrance” although I was supposed to be on an official visit.

    I also come from an area where my uncle’s farm was
    taken by a member of the Khalifa family. My uncle owned the land but they expelled him warning him “You Baharna.. you took our land. Get out or I’ll bring the yellowish” But my uncle wouldn’t listen. Then they brought a yellow crane and destroyed everything. My uncle was a coward and he had to go home and leave his land to the greedy asshole.

    Let me say this: these people will face what Saddam had faced. Believe me. And it’ll be very soon, shorter than the winkle of your eye.

    Death to tyrants!

  14. riffa4u says:

    i think my mother your mother my sister ur sisietr so mind mahmood

    then i want you to hold a voting or something and see in bahrain who wants iran based government i am sure u will lose , i may not sound
    too big i am sure you will lose

  15. riffa4u says:

    any wayz mahmood bye bye see u again
    , how ever i will give it a thought in the school tomorrow with my friends , i am loyal to the country our country bahrain bzy byz

  16. Anonymous says:

    Rancher :
    “What I find ironic is that the US has empowered the Shia in Iraq yet I believe far more Shia are killing our troops than Sunni.”

    I strongly believe that it not true. Majority of insurgent attacks were in fallujah, and majority of bombs were targeting shi’ites, at least initially, before shi’its started responding. Also, AlSadr Militia is based in Najaf, and had to deal mostly with the British forces rather than American ones.

    The point you make about the monetary dependence of some Shi’its on Iran leads to a certain amount of loyalty is valid. That is almost definately not the case in Bahrain. There is a great deal of respect to religious figures in Iran, but then again there are widely admired,by shi’its, shi’it clerics in Iraq and Lebanon.

    The problem of bahrain is that of the mentalities of the different social classes, I believe. Rich people are getting richer and poor people are only suffering more, the fact that there is two main religious sects leads to the clashes fueled by hate-mongrers and depends largely on the lack of independence in developing of beliefs and views – bad education , religious bainwashing, whatever you want to attribute it to. The fact that the two sects are sunni and shi’ites is arbitrary.

    The crown prince position is that there shouldn’t be, and as he can insure, there wouldn’t be any differentiation between the two sects. It so happens that it is not within his powers to change things over night, there is still a legion from the-old-guards in the government who, I would guess, discriminating against one sect over another is almost pathological at this stage.

    Thogba – I am sorry to hear about your unfortunate experiences, but to be honest there are few Shi’ite families who didn’t encounter such discrimination at some stage. The problem is that it is too much to ask for a monetary compensation for things that happened, and just hope that such immoral actions can be brought to justice in the present and future. ” imagine some Africans demanding reparations for centuries of slavery? – watch relevant skit from Chappelle Show! ”

    Riffa4u : you are an immature little kid with very little understanding of whatever areas you are attempting to engage in. Your argumentative display is lacking in rigour or depth or indeed arguments. Your position is incoherent and ultimately unhelpful.
    In fact I think you should highlighted as a prime case why kids should be taught some philosophy at school, other than that just stay in school.

  17. isagreatphilosopher says:

    anonymous above is me again

  18. Darth says:

    On behalf of the people of Riffa I apologize for this idiot (riffa4u)! I thought the Crown Prince, had a good interview, and Mahmood you had a good post. When I saw 17 comments I thought oh wow a good discussion so fast. But anyway, more importantly that question of loyalty to Iran was raised during the interview on Al-Arabiya with Al-Wefaq’s top guy. And here is my take on it – People in IRAN, with an honest democracy, would vote for a less strict Government. So the Majority of BAHRAINIS are going to vote for that kind of theorcracy. Hell NO. There are people that are more loyal to the Iranian Regime, Yes. There are people loyal to Bin Laden, Yes. But, the majority of Bahrainis will vote for Bahrain and it’s independent interests.

    Sunnis, Shiites, Bahrainis are Arabs. Iranians are Arians. Their language is different, we have a hard enough time getting GCC unity let alone that. Anyway, I think the Crown Prince has doubts on meeting the deadline primarily because of Oman’s recent anouncement. Unlike Europe we have a similar language, and religion – and we didn’t fight world wars against each other. So I think we ideally should do things faster. Sadly, our neighbors and especially Saudi Arabia are really slow. It takes them a long time to implement things, even the Customs Union isn’t implemented well, yet. I’m hopeful about the future though, and I wish the Crown Prince becomes more involved in running this country as oppose to … the “Usual Suspects”.

    The problem with the Crown Prince is that I don’t think he realizes how much influence he has, or how much people respect him more than “Others” in Government. There are a lot of forces that shape the political situation in this country. I think the Crown Prince needs to speak more, and quietly over time create a tremendous amount of public momentum towards his reforms. His reforms are only known to a certain group in our country, and the average person doesn’t even know of their existence. You can’t rely on anyone but yourself to carry this message, keep it simple, drill it in everyone’s minds and help us help you speak with the same voice. Whether you’re talking about Education/Health/Land/Economic Reform. At least your going to force “others” to move at a faster pace, sure they’ll get annoyed with you, but we’ll love you more for it!

  19. jasra jedi says:

    Darth,

    So the Majority of BAHRAINIS are going to vote for that kind of theorcracy. Hell NO. There are people that are more loyal to the Iranian Regime, Yes. There are people loyal to Bin Laden, Yes. But, the majority of Bahrainis will vote for Bahrain and it’s independent interests.

    I think that Bahrainis are coming up the curve on what these ‘independent’ interests mean. It has taken the Iranian people over 25 years to come to terms with what Iranian national interest means post the Islamic revolution. There can be no short cuts for us in Bahrain. Much as I would like to see differently.

    I think the Crown Prince needs to speak more, and quietly over time create a tremendous amount of public momentum towards his reforms.

    I think the CP’s biggest enemies will come from within. And no amount of public support will outweigh that.

    May the force be with us Darth. We need to find Yoda. Fast.

  20. Rancher says:

    isagreatphilosopher

    Fallujah aside we fought Sadr in two major engagements. I count any sophisticated IED’s that Iran supplies as Shia origin despite the tool used to deliver it. But even if I concede your point a lot of Shia are killing us. Not any Kurds though. We are no less an “occupier” of Northern Iraq than anyplace else. Quite down and the occupation goes away.

    I will also concede your point that the Shia in Bahrain are Bahraini and would be insane to vote in a thugocracy, to paraphrase Darth. So by all means they should be granted full access to all Bahraini institutions, especially the Military. Had we allowed more Blacks and other minorities to fight for the US earlier we would have been far better for it. Look at what happened when Black regiments were finally allowed to fight for the North in our civil war. Then look at the Tuskegee Airmen. It’s folly not to use the talents of your citizens due to irrational prejudice. The most egregious example of this is the way Hitler treated the Jews. How much knowledge was lost when professional Jews fled Nazi Germany. Remember Einstein gave us the bomb.

  21. Maverick says:

    And I suppose you have proof of these allegations? Or is it your mother’s old aunty’s one-eyed daughter’s dwarf son’s friend’s sister said that she heard from a trusted friend’s father who is the janitor of Salmania hospital’s lost & found department who heard from a patient while he was sweeping the gypsum off the floor while the patient was getting measured for a prosthetic left foot (hydraulically and electrically operated) who fell and screamed YA KHUDA in pain that he has never experienced in his 78 years?

    😆 😆 😆

    Nice retort M! This really got me right here…… 😆 😆 😆

  22. mahmood says:

    JJ: I think the CP’s biggest enemies will come from within. And no amount of public support will outweigh that.

    I wouldn’t underestimate public support for a person or cause just yet. I think the more support we give his programs (if we’re not concerned too much with the person) the better Bahrain will be. They are essentially good and are – at the moment – the only rays of hope we can see here on the ground.

    He has tremendous opposition to his programs from all sides, and the more his programs are explained, or he himself uses his charisma to push them through, the more fodder he will gain.

    Failing that, we just have to wait for Allah to intervene, and that might take too long.

  23. mahmood says:

    Darth: There are people that are more loyal to the Iranian Regime, Yes. There are people loyal to Bin Laden, Yes. But, the majority of Bahrainis will vote for Bahrain and it’s independent interests.

    I share your belief in that Bahrain will remain Bahraini, and there is no longer a need (past 1971 particularly) for the Shi’a of Bahrain to exhibit their loyalty to this land and the crown.

    As to the independent interests, they could be another rallying point that could unite the whole island, if they were translated as a mission statement which people can take onboard and fully support. That mission statement unfortunately is befuddled at the moment in the presence of Bandargate specifically and the arbitrary arrest and incarceration of people for their thoughts.

    As far as the GCC Customs and Monetary Union, I can tell you that there are a lot of practical steps which need to be resolved. In my own business, the majority of sales I have are to Saudi and Kuwait companies and the kind of shenanigans and hoops that we have to go through to export our equipment and make our staff available to our customers in those two countries, particularly Saudi as far as the staff is concerned, would drive a lesser mortal away from doing intra-Gulf business!

    I am anxious for the unions, particularly the Customs part, to come really into effect, but judging by the level of bureaucracy that we have to go through every time we need to export something… well, they have an awful lot to sort out and the sooner the better.

  24. mahmood says:

    Lulu has written about this as well, her views are worth the read too.

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