7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018

Security, accountability ... and THEN dialogue

During the last few days we have surprisingly learned that the Al Wefaq Society has asked Kuwait to mediate with Bahrain.

This information has appeared in Kuwaiti newspapers, that the opposition group is now 'ready to start talks with Bahrain's authorities'.

How surprising, because there is no need for Al Wefaq to make such a request. Dialogue has already been originated by Bahrain's leadership, and it was the Al Wefaq Society, remember, that did everything in its power to thwart it!

However, events have moved so fast that frankly now is not the time for dialogue, because other national priorities have overtaken it at such a delicate juncture.

Today, of more importance are two vital objectives. Firstly, restoring firm security and stability to comfort and assure citizens and residents.

Secondly, to thoroughly investigate the plot which has so badly affected Bahrain. Those involved must be made urgently accountable.

Everyone can see and appreciate that security forces, supported by a GCC military presence, have brought security and sanity back to Bahrain's streets, but more time is needed to fully consolidate it. This won't happen for a while.

Bizarrely, Al Wefaq has chosen such a sensitive time to ask Kuwait to mediate and open a dialogue with Bahrain's leadership. They are also trying to dictate terms - that all those detained should be freed, and forces sent back to their barracks. This is yet another recipe for anarchy, imposed before discussions can even begin. No citizen or resident would ever be able to accept such impossible demands.

During the last few black weeks we saw with our own eyes our country about to implode, and with the hijacking of our main general hospital, men of medicine became 'men of menace'.

The authorities clearly identified this as being a foreign-inspired plot aimed at seriously harming Bahrain. We still do not know the full size and scope of this conspiracy, or all the individuals involved. But it is the right of everyone to be fully informed about its scale and implications in full chronological order.

This should in no way be seen as revenge, as some so-called opposition followers are depicting it via various propaganda media stations.

We base our right to genuine, unmitigated information on the following : First, a legitimate and bona fide, fair demand of society and state. Bringing perpetrators to justice would be the norm in any country.

Secondly, such a move will deter all those thinking of doing anything similar in the future. Ignoring such a request would be tantamount to handing a license to the prospective plotters of tomorrow!

Thirdly, and this is very important, when names are made public, many of those calling themselves opposition could be among them.

This brings us to the conclusion that no dialogue can ever start until this entire sorry episode is investigated thoroughly and results made known to citizens and the world at large.

During the last six weeks many financial institutions have lost trust in Bahrain's economy. The impact will have both short and long-term effects locally and internationally.

Losses are enormous, with those affected including airlines, hotels, tour operators, causeway traffic, commerce and industry, real estate and global reputation.

There are as yet no reliable figures, but certain effects are obvious. The five-star hotel industry for instance, has more than 2,000 rooms empty every night - with thousands more in the four, three and two-stars, serviced apartments and flat blocks. Restaurants, shops and purchasing power have all been disastrously hit.

One regional economist is predicting that Bahrain's Gross National Product this year may suffer its largest contraction for three decades, from a healthy forecast of almost five per cent growth to possibly less than two per cent.

Facing such circumstances, this country's leadership cannot afford to compromise in any way its peaceful people's futures and outlook towards a sounder future in Bahrain.

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