Interests and friends

When Lord Palmerston said the eternal words which translate to a country does not (and should not) have perpetuals enemies nor allies, but permanent interests, who would have thought that we would see this tenet acted out in our very own parliament by two self-appointed stalwarts of political Islam in Bahrain to attain their own ends? Both are targeting their arrows at sitting ministers; Al-Wefaq wants Attiyatallah’s head, while Al-Asalah wants Fakhro’s.

I can understand the first; as their leader’s public promise on the still-felt repercussions of the Bandargate scandal, but I can’t understand the motives for the second.


The papers reports about the Bahrain Investment Wharf project in Hidd, which is owned by Ta’ameer, suggest that Al-Asalah have determined that it was let for 50 years to BIW at considerable sub-market value and they want to exercise their parliamentary privilege and create an investigative committee to look into this project. The minister of industry and commerce Hassan Fakhro is adamant that not only did he and he ministry not do any wrong, but have benefited the country in this deal when compared to like-projects in the surrounding area.

The parliamentary by-laws require a minimum of five members to submit a request for the formation of an investigative committee and as Al-Asalah’s members in parliament exceed that, they didn’t need Al-Wefaq’s support in order to get that committee request tabled. When they will need them; however, is if (or is it “when”) they table a motion of no confidence against the minister to ensure that they will get the two-thirds majority to force the minister to resign. Whether it will actually be allowed to get to that stage is anyone’s guess. Mine is that it won’t.

We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are perpetual and eternal and those interests it is our duty to follow.
Lord Palmerston, British Foreign Secretary, 1848

The upside of this is that both blocs have unequivocally demonstrated that when it comes to political interests, all other considerations get sidelined, even ideological ones which they themselves have heretofore held sacrosanct. They’ve even had this marriage of convenience notorised by appending their signatures to a hastily hand-written document which set their agreement in effect; they will not stand in each other’s way in applying the various constitutional tools in their over-sight roles.

Meaning? Al-Wefaq now have the written agreement to go forth with the Bandargate investigation, and finally, maybe, boot the one who should not be named out. But at the expense of Fakhro’s head and goodness knows what else Al-Asalah will rummage through in the future, which given their past stances against Bahrainis’ freedoms, does not bode well.

But time will tell whether that written document will actually hold any water. We’ll wait and see.

I think there are a few people in the island who are squirming in their seats this morning. Or maybe they’re still blasé about the effectiveness of parliament especially as they seem to enjoy untold support and protection from those who are higher and mightier.

UPDATE 071101: Well this “agreement” didn’t take long. The papers this morning are carrying reports about Al-Asalah back-tracking and spinning it as it has never been and they didn’t enter into any such agreement. Typical. No back-bone probably because the wind-up butterfly wasn’t cocked properly.


  1. The Joker

    My favorite quote on MTV was “Bahrain has become Saudi and Iran’s bastard child.”

    I was pleasantly surprised when I read the news this morning. Although I hope that Hasan Fakhro’s head doesnt roll.

  2. Nawaf

    What I understand is that AlWefaq will NOT bring up the bandergate issue in its questioning but other financial related concerns with Attiyatallah handling ot his department.
    Can someone shed some light on this please?

  3. Post

    That’s the probe; however, Jawad Fairooz has already tabled a Question to the Minister of Justice to explain his ministry’s investigation into the report, their methodology and outcome.

    They’re going at it from several fronts. Let’s hope that the truth will eventually be out.

  4. Merlin

    Brilliant – it is high time that we start seeing such fascinating movement. Rock the boat boys, rock the boat!

  5. Nawaf

    Thanks Mahmood.

    The truth coming out is something, but handling the truth is something else.

    There is no denial that when the “FULL” truth is revealed:

    1) The people will not be pleased with less than a fair trial for all those implicated, and if no such trial or conviction is delieverd, the people will result to methods that will seem necessary to some.

    2) If the truth reaches high ranking officials considered “behind the red line”, the government will try to create obstacles to the questionning process and may even dismantle the parliament. It happened before, (1975)

    3)People implicated in the report and their supporters (including public figures) will stir the public’s emotions by claiming that the reasons behind the questionning are ideological or cultural (i.e. a clash between sunnis and shi’aas). They will do this to deflect attention on the real reasons behind the questionning and not create secondary problems to keep the clashing parties busy. The government ofcourse will definately play a role in blowing to the fire. “فَرِِِق تَسُد”

    I hope that AlWefaq plays this one safely and covers all possible loopholes to avoid possible government’s obstacles. I also help that the questionning process remains in focus and, according to Mahmood, make sure our honorable representatives’ discussions remain “Brain-fart” free, to avoid any couterattacks and accusations by others.

    Let the game begin

  6. doncox

    I think Palmerston was wrong about the interests. They change too. For instance, for a long time, one of Britain’s top interests was maintaining the route to India. That lasted as long as the Suez War (1956), but nobody cares about it now.

  7. Ibn

    He’s not “wrong” about interests. You are just talking about interests within interests. The unshakable interest towards a nation is survival, and prosperity. To that end, there are a multitude of short-term, temporal, immediate, urgent, and non-urgent sub-interests, such as the Suez canal for Britain.

    In fact, some sub-interests might be overkill, such as the whole Imperialism thing with European powers. That changed. But never did a nation change its core interests for survival and prosperity. It would make sense that this is in fact what Palmerston was referring to.


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