Tag Archives bandargate

Minister to be interrogated by Al-Wefaq

Bandargate hero Ahmed Attiyatallah to be interrogated by political party

كشفت مصادر مطلعة في كتلة الوفاق النيابية عن أن الكتلة ستتقدم خلال أيام بطلب استجواب وزير شئون مجلس الوزراء الشيخ أحمد بن عطية الله آل خليفة بشأن المخالفات المالية التي أوردها تقرير مثير نشره مستشار حكومي سابق، وأكده تقرير رسمي نشر في الأسبوع الماضي على موقع للإنترنت. وأشارت مصادر في جمعية الوفاق إلى أنه «وبحسب اللائحة الداخلية لمجلس النواب فإن أقل عدد من النواب يمكنه تقديم طلب الاستجواب هو 5 نواب على أن يقدم الطلب للرئيس لعرضه على جدول أعمال أولى الجلسات التي تلي تقديم طلب الاستجواب لإحالته إلى اللجنة المختصة»، موضحة أن «المادة تعني أن تقديم الطلب قبل الثلثاء المقبل يعني أن طلب الاستجواب سيكون على جدول أعمال الجلسة المقبلة».
الوسط :: ٢/٥/٢٠٠٧

Following the “official unofficial” publication of the internal investigation into the Bandargate scandal, Al-Wefaq political society finally found its collective cajones and is considering interrogating the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Court Affairs Ahmed Attiyatallah in parliament to ascertain his involvement into the scandal, especially as he was the one fully featured in the report published by the Gulf Centre for Democratic Development (GCDD).

According to parliament’s bylaws, 5 members need to submit the application for interrogation of a minister and as Al-Wefaq affiliated members in parliament number 18, they should have more than enough to support this application.

What they will do with it – especially as the report above suggests that they will exclusively concentrate on financial irregularities perpetrated by the minister – is a different matter and I anxiously await what and how they will treat the subject. I think they have one single chance at this, so it is critical that they go along a measured and very well studied path for the questioning which might precipitate this cabinet’s dissolution and fall, as if the government wants to avoid this saga, they will have to dissolve the cabinet, much like what happened in Kuwait recently.

We have a saying in Bahrain: “If you don’t steal, there is not need to be afraid.” Based on this, and as Ahmed Attiyatallah has continued to maintain his innocence and did not voluntarily resign from his critical government positions, he should submit to the will of parliament and present himself, head held high of course, to be interrogated.

I’m not holding much hope that anything will come out of this, this is just posturing by Al-Wefaq before the dismal conclusion of their first session in office and they want to appear as heroes to their supporters. It’s just showmanship. Especially when you consider that this demand for interrogation was publicly promised by their leader on TV even before winning the election but all what we’ve witnessed since they came to power is the clamouring and accepting government handouts and looking photogenic in news reports with the country’s leaders.

I’ll be generous; however, and wait without the benefit of baited breath on what will transpire over the next few weeks.

Share

I smell fish! Bandar revisited?

Posted on

shot Salah Al-Bandar!

What’s the worst way to show that you’re guilty?

You would go on a mother of an offensive with no leg to stand on and attack the person rather than the allegation.

Hence, when a couple of people brought a “new” site to my attention and I visited, I was left gasping for breath and thinking something along the lines or how, ehm, “lacking in judgment” can you get?

Enter The Secrets & Reports of Salah Al-Bandar.

Fetching title isn’t it?

But wait! We’re hardly there yet! Pray what does such a grandiosely named site offer?

    1. Personality hack-job of the protagonist, in several flavours
    2. “Secret” reports which must only be privy to those deep inside some security or governmental organisation
    3. Complete dissection and contents – with explanation – of Salah Al-Bandar’s personal computer!
    4. Hand-written notes, sketches, brainstorms and mindmaps by Salah Al-Bandar
    5. Allegations and documents supporting his belonging or heading an intelligence organisation
    6. Intelligence review of Salah Al-Bandar’s CV and life, even offered in English translation!
    7. Bank account details with a purported promissory note of US$200 million (yes, million!) in the United Bank of Switzerland
    8. Archive of local press coverage of the case

Questions?

You bet your bottom dollar that there are many questions; those will wait, what I want to know is as these categorised documents are all in the possession of the investigating and security authorities in Bahrain, how did they find their way to the internet with such detail?

Is this what is called “an official leak?”

Bloody hell, this is not a leak, it’s a FLOOD!

Do you smell something fishy too?

Share

Those dirty conspiratorial Americans!

Anwar Abdulrahman: Now that readers are fully in the picture about this Washington scenario, I ask them a few simple questions. Is this not an act of conspiracy? Is this not a betrayal of trust? Is this not an act of treason by any country’s standards?

Or do we understand that under American globalisation such inquisitions will become its mandatory right?

It seems clear that America’s legal framework is seriously flawed and compromised if it can judge a country merely by listening to two known agitators.

It makes us wonder. Is America run by sane or insane people, allowing their country to drift into serious moral decadence?

American officials visiting Bahrain or living here are only too happy to praise excellent relations between the two countries. As a result trade has passed the $1 billion mark for the first time. Yet they allow such a shameful gathering to take place in their land.

Bahrain’s banking regulations and its transparency is far purer and cleaner than even America’s. In Bahrain there is no black money – unlike that tainted by the US Mafia!

Also, on what basis do American authorities – known for their draconian checks on visa suitability – allow such people into Washington? Who is actually financing such trips?

The American ambassador has a lot of explaining to do to Bahrain’s Press. In fact authorities here should also thoroughly investigate this episode with him.

This country, in the last eight years, has achieved much to be really proud of. Reforms were not imposed but were the dream and intention of His Majesty The King from the very day he assumed the throne – many years before the so-called American democratisation of the world.

While searching for the right words to sum up this column, I can find no better expression than that used by 16th Century English writer Sir John Harrington, who said: “Treason doth never prosper, and if it prospers, none dare call it treason”.

And I can sum it up with my own quotation too without having to resort to a book of quotations: what a load of codswallop!

Anwar Abdulrahman is hardly “teaching” the Americans about democracy and a sense of fair play, what he is actually doing with his piece is, ehm, enamour himself to his masters by labeling Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja a traitor and everyone else in that conference a conspirator, rather than even doing his journalistic duty and questioning or at least highlighting the content of their message and impartially discussing it to leave the final decision to his readership.

And before anyone jumps the gun here, this is not a defence of Al-Khawaja or Al-Bandar. I told Al-Khawaja to his face that I do not agree with his tactics, as to Al-Bandar, I do not care about him one whit. What I do care about is that I want to find out if their message and reports hold any measure of truth, what that truth is, and how we might engage ourselves as a country to fix what they say is wrong if indeed it does exist. The government’s gag order – which has been conveniently been expanded beyond the actual judicial order by Abdulrahman and his ilk to include everything to do with the reports – does not help one iota in allowing us to confront wrongs.

He conveniently forgets that we do indeed have problems and if they are not corrected in an expeditious and courageous manner, they will become insurmountable. With these paid journalists attitude, not only are they preventing any solution to these problems, but they are refusing to allow solutions to exist or even contemplated!

What I would rather see is these papers grow a set and specifically discuss Bandargate to educate people of its content, impartially, and bring the conspiracies – if any – out in the open and allow readers to make up their own minds after reading proper investigative journalism pieces, rather than the tripe which is written and paid for.

But then if all they care about is running ads and unlabeled advertorials while content is of a secondary and inconvenient nature, the majority of which is provided by news agencies and the BNA and reproduced verbatim and the only “articles” are the likes of what is produced above… they deserve the yellow patina they are painted with.

Share

Big Brother IS Watching Us!

CIO

You would think that the Central Informatics Organisation would have enough on its plate to rectify its image for its involvement in the Bandargate fiasco, especially now that he who should not be named has been relieved of his duties at that organisation.

But it seems that old habits do die very very hard.

Fellow blogger Mohammed Al-Maskati discovered that apart from the CIO’s basic functions of producing various identity cards, presumably creating statistics for the executive and other branches of government could use in their decision making and other worthy functions of the like, they appear to have taken the mantle of intelligence too and are rooting through our blogs for that word that the government wants us to completely forget: Bandargate.

Is it time to call a spade a spade? Let’s change the explanation of the nomenclature from Central Informatics Organisation… to: Central Intelligence Organisation!

I love that movie Beetlejuice, you might have watched it too. I wonder if we shout BANDARGATE BANDARGATE BANDARGATE three times loud enough it too would send shivers down someone’s spine and make our own version of Michael Keaton appear to wreak havoc in the area?

My advice to the CIO and government in general, please get back to your jobs of improving Bahrain and Bahrainies’ economic, educational, health and quality of life rather than waste your time looking for “enemies” within your own people. They just do not exist! We’re all patriots and we’re all loyal to the crown.

Get with the program already.

Errata: I might have been wrong in jumping to a conclusion, thanks to Incognito for another valid explanation.

Share

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

Posted on

That is the title of the seminar to be conducted in Washington on February 13th concerning the Bahraini political scene. Not a very imaginative title, as it is a very much overused sentence in Bahrain – with justification, I might add. All you have to do is pick up any paper, on any day and read any political topic. Continue reading about that topic for a while and you will see – there in black and white – why Bahrain should most probably trade mark that “brand”.

Nowhere is that brand more in evidence than in the political, freedoms and human rights scenes.

Back to the seminar; it’s organisers the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research describe that event as follows:

In February 2001, Bahrain introduced a series of reforms to open its political system. The following year, the government promulgated a new constitution, established a bicameral legislature, and issued calls for Sunni-Shiite equality. Western governments hailed the country as a beacon for democracy in the Middle East. But six years and two parliamentary elections later, Bahrain’s liberal experiment has failed to meet expectations. Tensions are high. Will sectarian strife spur greater reform or will it cause retrenchment? What does Bahraini political reform mean for the United States?

That’s really good. We need to discuss these issues and continue to talk about them with the declared objective that we should find a way out of the bottleneck. No one can declare for an instant that Bahrain is perfect; no country is, and as we are but an infant as far as democracy is concerned, it is vitally important that we continue to learn from our experiences, and listen especially to people opposing the limited reforms we enjoy so that we can gain from their own ideas.

One might ask, who’s involved in this panel? Again, according to the organisers:

These and other questions will be the subject of an AEI panel discussion with Salah al-Bandar, secretary general of the Gulf Centre for Democratic Development in London; Abdul Hadi Al-Khawaja, executive director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights; and Toby Jones, a visiting assistant professor of history at Swarthmore College. Danielle Pletka, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, will moderate.

Ah, that might be a problem for the Bahraini government. To say that they detest the whole panel and view them as enemies of the State is an understatement. The government has also not shown any willingness to put the Bandargate fires out, in fact, it has done the exact opposite if the leaked strategic report dubbed “Bandargate version 2” is anything to go by, and much more importantly the deafening silence it is maintaining and the continued employment of all those named and shamed in the original report.

So it is not going to take to this seminar too kindly. And you would think that they would immediately raise objections with the organisers and demand that the panel should have government representatives to portray the government’s points of view.

That, it appears, is far too much hassle. There is a much easier way to put paid to that seminar:

The president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, was arrested by Bahraini authorities this morning at 6am. The reason for the detention is not yet known.

Mr. Alkhawaja was previously arrested in September 2004 after he gave a public lecture in which he criticized the Prime Minister of Bahrain. (See Human Rights Watch: Rights Center Closed as Crackdown Expands and Closure of BCHR).

Mr. Alkhawaja was due to travel to the United States later this month to deliver a lecture about political reform in Bahrain, at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington DC.

It is also being reported that Hassan Mushaima, the general secretary of the Haq Movement political society, has also been arrested.

The arrest comes just a day after two political activists in the country (Dr. Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahlawi and Mr Hussain AbdulAziz Al Hebshi) were sentenced to prison for possessing leaflets. The leaflets, downloaded from an internet website, called on Bahrainis to boycott the November 2006 national elections. (See information regarding the Leaflet Detainees).

Further details will be posted on this post as they become available.
BCHR :: 2nd February, 2007

That’s quite neat isn’t it? Very daring and creative one might say too!

These are my simple predictions:

    1. They’ll not going to be released before Feb 13th.
    2. We’ll have many more demonstrations around the island demanding the release of the “leaflet detainees”, the 2 persons arrested in the last couple of days demanding the release of the leaflet detainees, and now we will have the demonstrators also calling for the release of the Washington Seminar Detainees.
    3. Tempers will continue to boil and flair.
    4. More business opportunities will be lost due to all of these shenanigans.
    5. Moderates will continue to be pushed into corners and forced to take sides.
    6. And the country will continue its downward spiral.

This is yet another fiasco. What the government has achieved with this unwise move is proven the basic premise of the seminar. Bahrain does indeed takes one step forward, and several steps back!

Do they really think that the apprehension of a panelist will magically cancel the seminar? No, what they have also done is given the seminar both legitimacy and popularity! Just think of the headlines it will create now.

Is this really conducive to our situation?

Is there no one in power that will step forward with political courage and will and put a stop to all of this?

WE are getting rather tired of all these situations.

All we want is to live with dignity for goodness’ sake. Is that too much to ask?

Release them. All of them. For the sake of the future of Bahrain.

Share

From the pan, into the fire.

Bandargate - take 2

A few weeks ago we were treated to a story more engaging than Harry Potter, more thrilling than any of John Grisham’s and certainly with more mystery and mystique than any of Wilbur Smith’s novels. Unfortunately the spineless national press refused to write about it conveniently hiding behind a cloak readily provided by a judicial order unrelated to the real “meat” of the report. The political societies who have become part and parcel of the “democratic experiment” not only refused to raise any flags (other than a so far feeble attempt by Al-Wefaq) but have publicly stated that they will not investigate it, nor question the named and shamed minister in the report. Al-Wefaq are promising (and that remains to be seen) that they will demand an investigation and if implicated will table a motion for a vote of confidence; this remains to be seen and as today is the first “real” day of the new parliament, I await to hear news that might shape this parliament for its lifetime.

If only the world would just stay still while they (all political societies and the government) make up their mind on one side, and the other to have some measure of decency to apologise and resign.

But the world does not wait for anyone. Time marches on… and now we have an apparently more damning report about to be released which explodes various schemes to firmly turn the country into the jaws of sectarian despair.

God help Bahrain.

The cover image above shows the contents of “Bandargate Version 2 which I have no doubt will – once again – rock the nation; in it, the report details very scary and very thorough undercover “black” operations movies are yet to be made of. Some of the points discussed include comprehensive strategic and tactical plans with which the government allegedly spied on a friendly nation – the States – and put more plans in place to further marginalise the Shi’a:

    1. Neutralizing the opposition and the Clerics’ Council
      We have seen how desperate the government was (is) during the recently held parliamentary elections to ensure that the world knows that the only available opposition are the Shi’a; hence exerted all efforts to completely ensure that no Sunni opposition figure succeeds in getting through to parliament, and the government won. So far. But Wa’ad still refuse to surrender and continue to increase their political activities and now enjoy much more public affinity than they ever had in their recent history. That is becoming a rather large thorn in the government’s side.
      The other part of this equation is the apparent requirement of the leaders of this scheme to completely sideline the Clerics’ Council, it being the highest Shi’a religious authority and which almost every Shi’a naturally turn to for spiritual and life guidance. We have witnessed their power already in the rather large demonstration they mounted against the proposed Family Law; they got what is estimated by some to be 150,000 people – 1/3rd of the indigenous population – demonstrating against this law, amply showing the power they enjoy amongst the populace. Therefore, no plan such as what this report purports could ever succeed without the full containment of this religious body.
    2. Demographic Engineering
      meaning I suspect the increased pace of naturalization of Sunni Muslims in numbers to outstrip the indigenous Shi’a population. The estimates of over 70% a few years ago are already said to be reduced to a differential of less than 60%. Therefore, having the Shi’a become a minority adopting these methods does not stretch the imagination too much.
    3. The restructuring of civil society
      I’m not sure what to read into this, other than to borrow from the spirit of the plan itself in which powers are totally and utterly shifted toward the subservience of the Shi’a.
    4. The future; it remains to be seen what this chapter contains
    5. The American/Bahraini relationships
      There have been rumours around for years in which it has been alleged that the Bahraini intelligence has penetrated deep within the American Embassy! This to me is rather far fetched, at least Hollywood leads me to believe in its impossibility, but I wonder if the report will touch on this particularly juicy rumour, the outcome of which could be stellar if indeed it approaches the truth. Could this be the straw that would break the proverbial camel’s back? Could this be a reason for the 5th Fleet to bid us adieu? And if it does indeed does so, would this be the signal to start a civil war?

I am sure that you are, like me, are very anxious to read this report if for nothing but to have an insight into this expanding conspiracy. Which leads me to yet another natural question:

What’s Dr. Salah Al-Bandar getting out of all this?

These kind of allegations, just the allegations mind you would topple governments and end dynasties; however, as we have seen with Version 1 the government dealt with it in a rather confounded and confused manner, leading ultimately for them to pull some strings to get a judicial order from a criminal court – mind you – to stop discussions and analysis of that version’s contents. What are they going to do now? Resort to the same unfortunate steps to further silence critics?

Regardless, let me get back to the question posed: what is Dr. Salah Al-Bandar get out of all of this? As far as I know he was happily employed by my government and amply rewarded for his strategic planning. He suddenly caught a bout of “honesty” and released a first report that set the whole island upside down, and he has now released an even more damning report, yet he is not getting rewarded for his efforts in monetary terms. Could it be that he is simply a megalomaniac who knows that this kind of operation would probably cement his name in the annals of history? Or is his motivation the destruction of a dynasty? I really do not know. And frankly, I do not care. What I care about deeply; however, is the content, the message, rather than the envelope it comes in, and if Dr. Salah Al-Bandar in both of his reports is bringing to our attention grievous attempts by an entity to further marginalise a large sector of my country, then I would simply advise that perpetrator to use absolute caution because I can guarantee that this will not just burn their fingers, but would evaporate their existence!

The solution to this situation is once again readily available and is present for all to see: absolutely refuse sectarianism! How difficult is it to realise this fact? All it takes for a semi conscience person to realise it is look to our North and smell the stench of burnt and bleeding bodies, of listening and hearing destitute orphans, the whines of widows and the wrenching keen cries of grieving mothers.

What would be the benefit of all of this to the perpetrators of this chaos? Longevity? I honestly do not think so. The whole country is sitting squarely on a powder keg with a rather short and fidgety fuse. Do they think that their stability would really be ensured by approaching this explosive situation with a lit torch?

God save Bahrain.

Update 20 Jan, ’07 @ 2013: Click the following link to read a more detailed summary of the report:

Share

Possible positive movement ahead?

According to my sources, it seems that the Royal Court has finally initiated an official investigation in the Bandargate scandal and the king has instructed the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Court, Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla to progress the case through the judicial authorities. The judicial authorities in turn are said to have drawn a list of 50 people implicated in the scandal for imminent interviews.

If this is indeed the case then this by itself is an excellent – long awaited – development, although this action could be completely unconnected to the recent Al-Wefaq’s stance, but rather has been mitigated due to various conditions. The other conditions could be due to the king’s promise to the religious clerics that he will initiate an investigation within 3 months of their meeting, the other is that the Royal Court closely watched last night’s funereal precession of Shaikh Abdulamir Al-Jamri and was shocked with the number of mourners involved as well as their political frustrations as demonstrated by shouted slogans and the graffiti left behind on almost every wall on the precession route calling for the death of Al-Khalifa and other political messages.

All of these situations will crystallise soon enough; however, other than having to be patient to find out exactly what transpires, we also have to be vigilant and not allow anyone or any party to hijack parliament and the little democracy we enjoy for their own selfish gains.

Share

Al-Wefaq shuns leadership positions

Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society LogoWith the announcement tonight that Al-Wefaq “will attend Wednesday’s session as they have now achieved the demonstration of their displeasure with the government” I am left wondering what their position actually is, other than a completely amateurish and childish foot-stomping tantrum!

What have they realistically achieved by this boycott? Did the government give in to any of their demands? Did they actually get anything for their position? Were there any negotiations or any promises made by the Royal Court to repair the situations highlighted by their boycott? Will they now get rid of the Bandargate heroes and launch an investigation?

Or are they putting their supporters on notice that they should not be blamed for any shortcoming in their parliamentary tasks “due to the inherent impotence of the parliament, its bylaws and the constitution”? If it is this case then why bother? We all know the deficiencies of the system so this point is totally moot, if indeed this is the reason for their boycott.

Maybe it is just that they are more comfortable being led rather than take the reigns and lead.

Listen guys, like I said before, you cannot be “a little pregnant“, you have got to make up your minds and either go in and completely participate within the current framework of the democratic institutions, or get out and make way for others to take their natural place and lead. Don’t go in half-heartedly, and most certainly you cannot go in with a “boycotter” or the traditional “opposition” mindset, you have to lead, your constituents should accept nothing else, you being the largest bloc, and you should take the front seats and pursue a national agenda to increase freedoms, encourage investments, fix education, fix the constitution and the various other ills this country suffers from. Your indecision as to the level and method of your participation is unprofessional and unbecoming of a party with the support you enjoy. There are a lot of hopes hanging on you so it behoves you to be much more professional than you have been so far. Above all, you cannot, simply cannot go into parliament with the victim mentality!

I will give you the benefit of the doubt for the moment and assume that a deal was struck, and that deal – if any – will most definitely become known soon enough. But if there isn’t any, then what you did in your boycott is callous to say the least; all you have done is shown disrespect to the king by not being present at the inauguration ceremony, and complete disrespect and disregard for your constituents by not taking the leadership positions you are expected to take.

Share

Wefaq fires another salvo

Another press release appeared on Al-Wefaq’s website this afternoon, in which I found these two paragraphs strong and might carry a threat of an escalation of the sitaution:

وعبر سلمان عن أمله في ايجاد حلول في المستقبل حتى لا تتجه الوفاق لاتخاذ اجراءات اكثر , مؤكدا وجود تواصل سابق من أجل تغيير الوضع ومن أجل انقاذ الموقف داعيا الى عدم التأسيس لهذه التجربة على المزيد من التهميش والاقصاء .

واشار الى ان تحرك الوفاق يرمي الى بناء اعراف سليمة في الاعراف الديمقراطية مشددا على ان القرار محلي مطبوخ محليا في قلب الوفاق , مشيرا الى ان العملية الانتخابية لها ترتيب مسبق بحيث تفرز هذا الشكل للمجلس وانه اريد للوفاق ان تكمل صورة ديكور المناصب الرئاسية الثلاثة وهو ما ترفضه الوفاق

In the first paragraph, Al-Wefaq is hoping for a speedy resolution so that Al-Wefaq is not forced to take more drastic actions; while in the 2nd paragraph it emphasises that it decision to boycott the session and to refuse taking any leadership positions in parliament is a a matter taken locally immediately declaring that there was no “external force” – probably precluding any attempts by its detractors to label this move as yet another Iranian/Iraqi/Lebanese/Martian conspiracy.

Share

Okay… now what?

The king has left the building. Parliament is supposed to convene this afternoon to elect a chairman, 1st and 2nd vice chairmen, then the heads of five parliamentary committees. Al-Wefaq is no where to be seen and their demands are resolute:

    1. Investigate Bandargate
    2. Remove Attiyatallah
    3. Going with parliamentary custom and as they gained the majority vote, they should be given the chairmanship of the chamber

Now will the king look at this as a challenge that he has to stand up to, or will he act as a good benevolent and understanding leader and find a way out of this dire situation?

If he does, then Bahrain should become stronger for knowing that the kind cares deeply about the country; if not and he and the other decision makers take it personal and want nothing but to cow Al-Wefaq, then that would act as the spark that will send the country into an abyss of violence and riots; things that we thought was completely behind us since the king took over in March 1999 and when he launched his reform program.

The next few days are going to be critical. The very first thing the king should have done is delay the convening of parliament and their key selection session to a date after the situation’s resolution.

I am just wondering here.. is Ahmed Attiyatallah worth all this trouble? One person cannot stop the progress of a country and should not be allowed to. A wrong has been committed, why is it that difficult to immediately plan a path of correction?

Share