Martial law, or low-grade civil war?

15 Mar, '11

My mind is in absolute turmoil. Sitting in Vancouver airport awaiting my interminable flights to get back home, I can’t prevent myself from repeatedly asking: What am I going back to? A country on the prcipesce of civil war where one is marked by the sect he or she was born into. No longer people, but containers of hate the likes of which I have never witnessed, fueled blindly and criminally by so called men of the cloth on one side, and by those who think they have the most to lose.

Regardless, I choose to come back to continue to espouse sanity and tolerance. To continue to try to show people that regardless of their beliefs, status or wealth, our destinies as Bahrainis are intertwined and it behoves us to find equitable ways to live together and ameliorate our differences.

I don’t want to point fingers nor am interested in apportioning further blame. I favor the recognition of the root causes of this strife in order to move on, no matter how painful that exercise may be.

What we need now is to restore calm, work at restoring trust and work together to establish an equitable constitution and system of governance. We need to have a truth and reconciliation commission with powers to bring wrong doers to face their victims and apologize for their crimes in order to turn the page over and start afresh. We need wise and courageous leadership from both sides of the divide to publicly start the process and I hope through these difficult compromises, we shall regain or life, security and stability while guiding the ship of our nation to a better and more tolerant future in which social justice and the respect for human rights rule supreme.

The horrific stories I have heard over the last four weeks, the advent of shameless vigilantes and the seeming complete breakdown of safety and security are worrying, but while I do not support the imposition of martial law completely, I recognize that at this time, it might be a good temporary step to regain control of the situation. I fervently hope; however, that this will not morph into another state security law which will extend decades to the detriment of the people of Bahrain and at the expense of humane rights and freedom of expression. We don’t want to live through that again.

I wish every single Bahraini and resident peace and security. And hope that together we shall get out of this situation much stronger that we ever were before.

[note: in view of the current situation, I shall delete any comment deemed to be sectarian, inciting or promoting hate and shall block its author. This is the time to coallesce together as one to rise above this situation and seek resolution, not fan the flames.]

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Comments (52)

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  1. esxclamation matk says:

    the country is in loose, a massacre in Sitra and the villages around, and chances to expand to the areas and villages around hamad town.

    expecting for the worse… won’t be able to sleep, by head is rushing with fearful thoughts of whats going to happen

  2. Dan says:

    How will martial law help stop unrest when some of the unrest was started by the military gunning down peaceful demonstrators in the street?

    “Sectarian” discord? A nation the size of Bahrain, pretty much just a city state, cannot possibly have that much hate and discord within its limits. The geographic size of Bahrain requires the people to interact so closely with each other on a daily basis that they surely have learned to get along with and tolerate each other.

    Order out of chaos? It has been done before. Those who would like to impose “temporary” martial law, i.e. soldiers in the streets checking your papers and controlling your every move, only need to supply some arms, money, and/or drugs to a few goons and the chaos will occur.

    Then, when people will shout out loud for their government, who very well may be the one that provided the arms, money and/or guns to the goons in the first place, to do something…ANYTHING to stop the bloodshed.(“At least take all the guns away from the people!”);

    Then freedoms are suspended, elections are suspended, people are imprisoned for no reason, and ORDER is established out of CHAOS.

    It’s THAT simple!

  3. Mojo jojo says:

    So the paragon of Bahrain’s free speech is finally resorting to censorship. It beats me why us Arabs can’t say “Hey, I do not agree with you but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.

    am I to be first?

    • AGA says:

      You forget that this is his space. He’s not the sovereign nor any governmental agency. Rather, this blog is private property owned by him to which the public has been invited, subject, of course, to limitation or even outright revocation. He can, at least to my way of thinking, say that he defends someone’s right to say something without governemental penalty without allowing the same to be said in his home. Big difference, significant difference, lost on the youth and those who teach them.

    • mahmood says:

      Not at all. But would you tackle someone who shouts FIRE in a dark and crowded theatre or would you state that it’s his free speech and to he’ll with those who might die in the stampede?

      Speech is ok, inciting violence and hatred isn’t.

  4. Herman says:

    Never thought I would say this about Bahrain, I will need to send my inlaws back to Europe tomorrow, we were threatend today by youngsters on the road in Janabiyah, I also tried to reach my office in Riffa this morning but road blocks prevent this. Currently have costs over 80K BD in business and 0 turnover, had to fire all Bahraini’s as they don’t show up for work, If this goes on for 1 more week I will need to leave as I am running out of money and cannot affort to pay the rent any longer. I will need the last bit to start over somewhere else or go bankrupt.

  5. Zamondo says:

    I stumbled across your blog a couple days ago. After hearing the news of the unrest in your country I decided to check it out Bahrain on Google Earth. It wasn’t long before I saw the giant estates and mansions along your coast. When I searched for mansions in Bahrain I found your blog. I’m saddened by the current state of affairs there and I truly hope there will be a peaceful outcome, but I can see why the people are angry. The wealth gap between rich and poor is getting larger throughout the world and I fear violent protests could easily spread to all countries. Keep safe Mahmood!

  6. Steve the American says:

    Good luck, Sisyphus. You’re not fighting just the Bahrain establishment now, but the Saudis as well. The Saudis will not allow your revolution to succeed for fear that it will travel across the causeway and they have less regard for Bahraini lives than the Bahraini police do.

    If you want individual rights and liberty, peace and security, you need to leave for the USA, Canada, or Australia. It’s not going to play out that way in Bahrain.

    • AGA says:

      Pay no attention to the nattering nahbobs of negativism, Mahmood. Steve (and frankly I am as well) is a trust fund baby, who inherited a system of individual rights and liberty, relative peace and security, and numerous other benefits which none of us truly appreciate either the sacrifice paid or the risk endured in their creation.

      You, on the other hand, appreciate that the same may be built in Bahrain, the only question is when, and being the irrepressive can-do optimist that you are, now is the time. I salute you. I salute your determination, your abiding confidence in human nature of the Bahrainian variety, and I wish/pray that you may endure and persevere this seemingly Sisyphean task, and if past performance is any indication of future performance, surely you shall.

  7. FYI says:

    Mahmood I honestly think the ‘14 fed youth’ believe they are on the verge of victory (down with the regime) and they will not settle for ANYTHING less. Whether it was the fault of those preaching (misguiding) them or the events from Egypt/Tunisia; these youth have taken on the mind-set of martyrdom. I don’t think either Wefaq or Qassam can now manage to negotiate any talks. When placing those raw emotions against an army’s firepower you create an explosive situation. The real tragedy is I don’t see any side claiming victory, we are all going to lose this fight.

  8. Eman Shakib says:

    My heart breaks as I leave my family and friends in the crack of dawn to find a safe haven for my 4 children not knowing if things will ever be the same again, nor if I shall come back home in the near future. May God bless Bahrain and all my fellow bahrainis.. Peace..

  9. D says:

    Pray please

  10. bahrain1st says:

    One thing I disagree with you Mahmood. Yea we do need calm and quiet. But for them to return home and apologize for what they did and everything will go back to normal? People have been scarred for life. They were FORCEFULLY PREVENTED FROM GOING TO WORK. they were denied proper treatment at SMC. Poor helpless expats were being dragged out their houses and killed and beat up. Not to mention what happened in UoB. A lot of people won’t be able to trust anyone anymore especially the kids who were fed hatred at schools. The perpetrators must not be pardoned for they have scarred a whole nation.

    • خارجی says:

      Apportioning blame is in the short term highly unlikely to solve anything. There have doubtless been faults, errors of judgement and malicious intent from many different quarters to bring Bahrain to where it now is.

      The country’s problem developed over time, and clearly there was an underlying problem or this could not have started. I recall Mahmood’s prescient comment around the time of the start of the general strike, that Bahrain after February 14th was different from Bahrain before. Everybody can now see that it is not going to return to the pre Feb 14th situation. The question that should be exercising those who have a stake in Bahrain’s future is how to reach a situation where all Bahrainis can live together. Listening to radicals or reactionaries is not going to help – giving anyone the space to fan the flames of hatred is going to mean the end of Bahrain as a peaceful state; apportioning blame for this whole situation on any one group is clearly not going to help.
      There will be a time when those culpable for enormities (both physical and in terms of incitement) may be taken to account, but that time will only come after peace has been re-established and the country has the prospect of a democratic future. If that point can be reached, which I fervently hope can be done, then let us hope that people on all sides will be able to see the mistakes made on all sides, rather than only those of others.

    • mahmood says:

      Truth and Reconciliation requires that events are thoroughly investigated and facts sought and exposed in a dispassionate manner in order to learn from them, bring those responsible for atrocities to book and help everyone turn the page.

      May I therefore suggest that rather than bandying contestable “facts” as the wrongdoings of the other side, we call for such an independent commission manned by trusted members of both local and international bodies to start the process of sifting through the mayhem?

  11. Anonny says:

    Bahraini1st,

    If you can’t abandon hatred you are not part of any solution. That’s it. Regardless of how others have been behaving, what do you want to see in Bahrain’s future?

    Shia are not going to go away. They will always be there. You have to learn to live with them.

  12. Eman says:

    I do agree with your last sentence this is absolutely not the time for hatred and division !! It is the time of bonding together and supporting our main cause our freedom. Pointing fingers must be stopped blaming can achieve no victory or a rush of happiness what is important is saving the people and protecting what’s left of Bahrain.

  13. Bahraini says:

    Let’s all stop pointing fingers and agree to find solutions. I call on “Wefaq” and others-just like his highness did before me, to get together and seek a way out of this conundrum. “You did he did” technique will not usher any acceptable solutions but will only complicate matters further. “NO SINNI NO SHIA JUST BAHRAINI” is a real noble mark. Why not utilize it to convey the message to authorities, in a PEACEFUL MANNER. Authorities have called on “Wefaq” and people it represents to the table to talk time and again to no avail. One only wonders why?!
    Bahrainis are very well educated; so far we have only shown the rest of the world backwardness and barbarism from both sides.

  14. indianexpat says:

    Sir,

    I had written last time that you should be the mediator between the two sides. Guess if you had been that, instead of going to Vancouver we might have had a different day today. Then again, if wishes were horses….
    Maybe you still can.

  15. Ash says:

    Please be safe, Mahmood. And I echo AGA’s sentiments.

    I wish I could do something to help instead of just watching from the sidelines as good people like you risk their lives for a better world.

  16. Anonny says:

    I still think Bahrain is stuck between larger forces though. Sorry, Mahmood, this is another ‘Oh Gawd’ moment for you. It’s becoming clearer that 2 opposing powers are using people in Bahrain as pawns in a larger chess-game. I think more of this will unfold soon.

  17. Dan says:

    I just checked the news and it sounds like all Hell is breaking loose there. I hope you, and yours, are safe Mahmood.

  18. exclamation mark says:

    i woke up on the sounds of explosions yesterday, saw the army choppers stationed up on the air, with rounds being shot.

    Heard choppers last night and shooting rounds.

    Yesterday’s crackdown was bloody and deadly

  19. Reader911 says:

    News sources….

    6 dead
    8 brain dead
    more than 400 injured
    29 resignations from the Government

    NY Times .. Bahrain Pulls a Qaddafi

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/opinion/17kristof.html?_r=1&ref=nicholasdkristof

    and yes, they are also tearing down the roundabout including the Pearl monument

  20. YoYo says:

    I just read this on AlJazeera,

    http://aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/50986045-0488-4DC5-ABD0-50A6E1618033.htm?GoogleStatID=1

    they mention in the third paragraph from the last that Waad are sunni party. Waad are not religious party they are secular party represent social democratic values.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Democratic_Action

    media like Al-Jazeera are instigating sectarian divide in Bahrain and not the people.

  21. ibrahim says:

    Wish the best for people like you in Bahrain to bring different sects together. As death and injuries go up so is the insanity on both sides. I wish Bahrain the best but I feel it is going to get ugly, people around Bahrain want to fight a proxy war in Bahrain. Emotion is too high for people to reach compromise, one side wants all and the other want to give nothing. Both will end up with nothing, love you Bahrain and its people both Sunni, Shiite and guests from all over the world.

    Hurt-people hurt people.

  22. Mohamed Almubarak says:

    This article of Foreign Policy
    http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/03/16/bahrain_brings_back_the_sectarianism

    spells out the government’s role in fuelling the sectarian divide in order to confront the revolt of Bahrain’s youth. I can’t agree more with it because I have seen acted out throughout the past month. I won’t blame the government alone for the sectarian rift, but surely its actions and its media (chief among them, the shameless BTV) have been flaming sectarian hatred.

    With the bloody enforcement of “national safety” that is going on right now, it is difficult to talk about dialogue. We all know, however, that this is the only way out of this situation. I only hope that the government itself quits its sectarian tactics to clear the way for real dialogue with its people. At the end of the day, the opposition will have to compromise on its demands, not only for the sake of the government, but for the rest of Bahraini people who at this point believe that siding with the government is a safer choice. Only a realistic solution will be viable.

  23. Reader911 says:

    How do you dare to equal both sides in your comparisons ?

    One side has is armless.

    and the other side is with Tanks and Apaches!

  24. Da Rebel says:

    Without tanks and apache helicopters one side has managed to bring the economy to a standstill.

    If this continues without dialogue no one will win, it will be a scorched earth policy with a destroyed economy.

    Really, what will be achieved? Countless unemployed as companies close, other companies relocate around the Gulf. The credit rating drops and years of hard work are for nought. A truly no-win situation.

    Phyrric victory anyone?

    Or. Start talking, get concessions and start rebuilding the catastrophe into something that can really work. Being too stubborn at this stage could be a disadvantage. We all know and realise what has happened in the past. What happens from now on is the critical phase. Don’t waste it by bloody-mindedness.

    • Robok says:

      Dialogue isn’t expected to happen under the current circumstances, I agree with you that the protests were irresponsible and short-sighted at times, but so was the first violent response and the second and now third to them.

      All the government is doing is escalating this, the CP calls for calm and then they do this, like they couldn’t offer dialogue from the start and spare everyone the trouble of even more protests and effect on the economy.

      And just as a note: State of Emergency, Martial Law, and deployment of domestic and foreign armies in the country has hurt the economy more than those protests could in a month.

      • Da Rebel says:

        Ok, I’ll bite.

        Under what circumstances will there be dialogue? After three weeks of offering dailogue, and (ok, eventually) accepting certain preconditions to talk, the CP couldn’t get the protesters round the table.

        IMHO the dialogue has to start as soon as possible for there to be any chance of getting out of this mess. I fully realise that there are grievances and grieving, but there must be a way forward, understanding that there have been mistakes on both sides, but forging a workable solution to develop a Bahrain where hard work is appreciated and fully compensated, the judiciary is fair and free from political interference, the government delivers on promises and where aspirations are realistic and workable.

        I, like many others, live in hope.

    • mahmood says:

      Thanks for inspiring today’s article! 🙂

  25. Staci Strobl says:

    My article published this month in a criminology journal calls for a truth and reconciliation process in dealing with past and present violence at the hands of the government against the Bahraini people. I hope some of you who care about the issue take a look at it. If you can’t access it, email me at stacistrobl@gmail.com for a copy in PDF format. Reactions and criticism welcome!

    http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a932483343

  26. Steve the American says:

    Bahrain and Morocco faced the same protests. While Bahrain fights its people and descends into war, Morocco embraces its people and builds a better Morocco:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703908304576201000083096940.html

  27. YoYo says:

    IT HURTS,

    IT HURTS, that we all trying to explain to the world through various media that the struggle in Bahrain started more than 40 years ago is not about the majority shiia and the minority ruling sunni,

    This is about dignity, self determination, respect and to live FREE.

    IT HURTS, to hear all the media (Bahrain, BBC, Aljazeera, etc.) repeating the ruling minority sunni family and majority shiia.

  28. Dan says:

    YoYo:

    The various (corporate) media are NOT there to help you explain the struggle of Bahrain to the world. The corporate media is there to present the news like the New World Order wants it presented so as to further the New World Order’s agenda which is total spectrum dominance and merciless planetary domination.

    If presenting the situation in Bahrain as some kind of petty sectarian “misunderstanding” that has gotten “a little” out of hand requiring international intervention suits their purposes then that is exactly what they will present it as.

    The “mainstream media” is pretty much controlled worldwide by the looting international central banksters so don’t expect to get much truth from them. The real news is presented directly and unfiltered from people like Mahmood via blogs like this one.

    Stay tuned…

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