Interesting interview in Al-Wasat this morning in which its editor-in-chief interviewed the departing American Ambassador to Bahrain Mr Adam Ereli. The interview had three axes: reflections on his tenure in Bahrain, Freedoms of Expression as exercised (or lack thereof) in Bahrain and the Internet in particular and lastly human rights. It’s surprising and refreshing to read some straight non-diplo talk once in a while, and this interview is largely that, though judging by some of the responses the article received, a lot of people found his responses are a direct interference in the internal issues of the country while others were vehement in their refusal of everything American painting them as the Great Big Satan wherever they landed.
I must confess that I’m pleasantly surprised by the responses and his uncloaked advice to the government and his comments on the Gulf Air / Wikileaks exposÃ©:
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There’s nothing for me to feel ashamed of or hide, being the ambassador of the United States means that I have to defend the interests of American companies. I believe that we want American companies to come to Bahrain and invest in it and for them to be a part of the economic life of Bahrain. This is a mutually beneficial facet for both countries, because it promotes job creation and entrenches the economic relationship between both countries. But if there is anything that suggests internal interference with this deal, then this is for the Bahraini government to deal with, as for me, I speak for the American companies; however, it is within the Bahraini government’s rights to determine what its response should be within its own sovereign dictates.
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ÙˆØÙŠÙ† ØªØºÙ„Ù‚ Ø§Ù„Ù…ÙˆØ§Ù‚Ø¹ Ø§Ù„Ø¥Ù„ÙƒØªØ±ÙˆÙ†ÙŠØ© Ù„Ø£ÙØ±Ø§Ø¯ Ù…Ù† Ø¯ÙˆÙ† Ù…Ø¨Ø±Ø±ØŒ Ø³ÙˆÙ‰ Ø¨ØØ³Ø¨ Ù…Ø§ ØªØ¯Ø¹ÙŠÙ‡ Ø§Ù„ØÙƒÙˆÙ…Ø© Ù…Ù† Ø£Ù†Ù‡Ø§ ØªØ±ÙˆØ¬ Ù„Ù„Ø·Ø§Ø¦ÙÙŠØ© Ø£Ùˆ ØªØØ±Ø¶ Ø¹Ù„Ù‰ Ø§Ù„ÙƒØ±Ø§Ù‡ÙŠØ©ØŒ Ù…Ù† Ø¯ÙˆÙ† Ù…Ø¹Ø§ÙŠÙŠØ± ÙˆØ§Ø¶ØØ©ØŒ Ø£Ùˆ Ø£Ù†Ù‡Ø§ ÙƒØ§Ù†Øª Ø¹Ø¨Ø§Ø±Ø© Ø¹Ù† Ù…Ø¬Ø±Ø¯ Ù‚Ø±Ø§Ø±Ø§Øª Ø§ØªØ®Ø°Ù‡Ø§ Ù…Ø³Ø¦ÙˆÙ„ÙˆÙ† ÙÙŠ ÙŠÙˆÙ… Ù…Ø§ Ù…Ù† Ø¯ÙˆÙ† Ù…Ø¨Ø±Ø±ØŒ ÙØ¥Ù† Ø°Ù„Ùƒ ÙŠØ¹ÙŠØ¯Ù†Ø§ Ø¥Ù„Ù‰ Ù…Ø³Ø£Ù„Ø© Ø¶Ø±ÙˆØ±Ø© Ø§Ù„Ø§Ù„ØªØ²Ø§Ù… Ø¨Ø§Ù„Ø´ÙØ§ÙÙŠØ© ÙÙŠ Ø§Ù„ØªØ¹Ø§Ù…Ù„ Ù…Ø¹ Ù‡Ø°Ù‡ Ø§Ù„Ø£Ù…ÙˆØ±.
I believe that transparency must be the mechanism to be adopted for dealing with Internet websites and [the government] must declare what is and isn’t acceptable in a clear manner and the determine the legal repercussions in order for clarity to prevail, just as in the commercial and criminal laws for example. If there are excuses for not having such laws governing the Internet due to being new, but if we witness websites or political societies publications being banned before the elections without a clear reason, then people will arrive at the wrong conclusion in this matter.
And if personal websites are banned without cause – either by what the government’s claim that the website propagates sectarianism without clear guidelines, or it haphazardly applies officials’ individual order without cause, then this brings back the question of the importance of the application of transparency in dealing with these matters.
as to the human rights situation:
ØÙ‚ÙˆÙ‚ Ø§Ù„Ø¥Ù†Ø³Ø§Ù† Ø´ÙŠØ¡ Ù…Ù‡Ù… Ù„Ù„ÙˆÙ„Ø§ÙŠØ§Øª Ø§Ù„Ù…ØªØØ¯Ø©ØŒ ÙˆØ¬Ù…ÙŠØ¹ Ø§Ù„Ø£ØØ¯Ø§Ø« Ø§Ù„Ø£Ø®ÙŠØ±Ø© ØªØªÙ… Ù…ØªØ§Ø¨Ø¹ØªÙ‡Ø§ Ø¨Ø¯Ù‚Ø© Ù…Ù† Ø§Ù„ÙˆÙ„Ø§ÙŠØ§Øª Ø§Ù„Ù…ØªØØ¯Ø©ØŒ ÙˆØ¨Ø§Ø¹ØªÙ‚Ø§Ø¯ÙŠ Ø£Ù† Ø±Ø¯Ø© Ø§Ù„ÙØ¹Ù„ Ø§Ù„Ø¯ÙˆÙ„ÙŠØ© Ù„Ù…Ø§ ØØ¯Ø« ÙÙŠ Ø´Ù‡Ø±ÙŠ Ø£ØºØ³Ø·Ø³/ Ø¢Ø¨ØŒ ÙˆØ³Ø¨ØªÙ…Ø¨Ø±/ Ø£ÙŠÙ„ÙˆÙ„ Ø§Ù„Ù…Ø§Ø¶ÙŠÙŠÙ† (2010) ÙÙŠ Ø§Ù„Ø¨ØØ±ÙŠÙ†ØŒ ØªØ¹Ø·ÙŠ Ù…Ø¤Ø´Ø±Ø§Ù‹ ÙˆØ§Ø¶ØØ§Ù‹ Ø¹Ù„Ù‰ Ù…Ø§ ØªØ¹Ù†ÙŠÙ‡ Ø§Ù„Ø¨ØØ±ÙŠÙ† Ù„Ù„Ø¹Ø§Ù„Ù…. ÙƒÙ…Ø§ Ø£Ø±Ù‰ Ø£Ù† Ø§Ù„ØÙƒÙˆÙ…Ø© Ø§Ù„Ø¨ØØ±ÙŠÙ†ÙŠØ© Ù…Ù‡ØªÙ…Ø© Ø¨ØÙ‚ÙˆÙ‚ Ø§Ù„Ø¥Ù†Ø³Ø§Ù† Ù…Ù† Ø£Ø¹Ù„Ù‰ Ù‡Ø±Ù… ÙÙŠÙ‡Ø§ Ø¥Ù„Ù‰ Ø£Ø³ÙÙ„Ù‡ØŒ ÙØ§ØØªØ±Ø§Ù… ÙˆØÙ…Ø§ÙŠØ© ØÙ‚ÙˆÙ‚ Ø§Ù„Ù…ÙˆØ§Ø·Ù†ÙŠÙ† Ù‡Ùˆ Ø£Ù…Ø± Ù…Ù‡Ù… ÙˆØ£ÙˆÙ„ÙˆÙŠØ© Ù„Ù„Ù‚ÙŠØ§Ø¯Ø© Ø§Ù„Ø³ÙŠØ§Ø³ÙŠØ© ÙÙŠ Ø§Ù„Ø¨ØØ±ÙŠÙ†.
ÙˆÙ„ÙƒÙ†ÙŠ Ø£Ø¤ÙƒØ¯ Ø£Ù† Ø§Ù„Ø³Ø±ÙŠØ© Ù„Ø§ ØªÙ†ÙØ¹ ÙÙŠ Ø¥Ø¯Ø§Ø±Ø© Ù…Ø«Ù„ Ù‡Ø°Ù‡ Ø§Ù„Ø£Ù…ÙˆØ± ÙˆØ§Ù„Ø´ÙØ§ÙÙŠØ© Ù…Ù‡Ù…Ø© ØØªÙ‰ ÙŠØ¹Ù„Ù… Ø§Ù„Ù†Ø§Ø³ Ù…Ø§ ÙŠØØ¯Ø« ÙÙŠ ÙˆØ§Ù‚Ø¹ Ø§Ù„Ø£Ù…Ø±ØŒ Ù„Ø£Ù†Ù‡Ù… Ø¥Ø°Ø§ Ù„Ù… ÙŠØ±ÙˆØ§ Ø´ÙŠØ¦Ø§ØŒ ÙÙ…Ù† Ø§Ù„ØµØ¹Ø¨ Ø¹Ù„ÙŠÙ‡Ù… Ø§Ù„ÙÙ‡Ù… ÙˆÙ„ÙƒÙ† Ù…Ù† Ø§Ù„Ø³Ù‡Ù„ Ø£Ù† ÙŠÙØ³Ø±ÙˆØ§ Ù…Ø§ Ù‡Ùˆ Ø£Ù…Ø± ØºÙŠØ± ØµØÙŠØØŒ ÙˆÙ‚Ø±Ø§Ø± Ø§Ù„ØÙƒÙˆÙ…Ø© Ø¨Ø§Ù„Ø³Ù…Ø§Ø Ù„Ù„Ù…Ø¬ØªÙ…Ø¹ Ø§Ù„Ù…Ø¯Ù†ÙŠ Ø¨ØØ¶ÙˆØ± Ø§Ù„Ù…ØÙƒÙ…Ø© Ù‡Ùˆ Ø£Ù…Ø± Ù…Ù‡Ù….
Human rights is very important to the United States and all the recent events were closely monitored by the United States, and it is my view that the international community’s repercussions to what has happened in August and September of 2010 in Bahrain gives a clear indication as to the high regard given to Bahrain by the international community. I see that the Bahraini government is interested in human rights from the top of its pyramid to the bottom, as respect of the citizens and their security is a matter of high priority to the political leadership in Bahrain.
But I emphasise that secrecy does not work in managing these issues and transparency is important so that people know the reality of what is happening because if they do not see something, then it becomes very difficult for them to understand but becomes easy to be lead to the wrong conclusion. The government’s decision to allow civil observers to the [so called terrorism] trial is important.
Impressive! I can’t add any more to this as his views – surprisingly – tally with my own and I have expressed them as such over and over again in my various writings. I wonder how the government is going to deal with this one. We’ll see how the barometer lies tomorrow by the headlines in the other local papers. Should be fun!
How long does he have before leaving again, and will that be accelerated due to this piece?
Note: the above are my imperfect translations but are current best efforts. I’m sure that the American embassy will probably translate the transcript and make it available on their website or to whomever asks.