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.
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 blasÃ© 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.