I can’t hide from the fact that I get really frustrated when I face a situation like the one I faced few days ago on Twitter. Years of study, reading, and research in Political Science with the highest qualifications and certificates were made to jam up in 140 letters. (Including spaces)
It all started when the Minister of Justice issued a ministerial order for all the political societies in Bahrain to report any communications with foreign powers. This move was in response to the National Assembly’s sweeping and historic decision to call for the government to further develop the legislative acts related to the security and stability of our Kingdom.
The reasons were pretty obvious. Some political societies, namely the opposition ones, were caught with years of secretive meetings with foreign powers receiving what is now widely seen as destabilizing advices. More so they were holding those meetings with foreign powers who openly state their direct involvement in various Coup d’états throughout history. Some even involved replacing unfriendly democracies with friendly dictatorships. The government, for various reasons including promoting a more transparent political environment decided to step in between to note and report those communications.
You see, this shouldn’t be a surprise for foreign powers because they have long been practicing such transparent laws, which explains why they have not voiced any objections to this move. When I was working in Bahrain’s embassy in America, I found out that not only political parties have to report their correspondence with foreign powers, but even PR firms and interest groups. In turn, the justice ministry would publish online those documentations for the whole nation to view. It was impossible for me as Bahrain’s Press and Media attaché to hold any secretive meetings. Everything was out in the open.
Whatever the reasons were for Bahrain and some Western democratic nations to act in this manner, all I can say is that I totally understand. In fact, I support this move and believe in that it is indeed a progressive step towards development. As a political scientist, I believe that some information should remain public and the government should maintain a certain level of transparency for some information to enable the general public to monitor the political parties’ performances.
When I went back and forth with some of Bahrain’s opposition members from the AlFateh Youth, I tried to explain that this move from the government is in Bahrain’s interest and directly related to National Security. Issues related to the National Security of any country are placed over the top of any other domestic issue, even if at the expense of individual freedom.
Yes there are many important and significant factors that are needed to exist in a proper developed and modernized society, but when national security is at stake, everything else takes a back seat. This is because the collective society, economy, business environment, and stability all fail when the security of the nation is shaken. Prosperity is every country’s goal and no country can prosper without security.
Democracy, and all the factors that come in its basket are all significant because they are presumed to be the means towards prosperity. However, depending on each nation’s circumstances, the road towards prosperity can take different routes, while attempting to always provide a secure and forward-looking environment.
Thus, the move to monitor the interactions between local political blocks and foreign powers is actually a progressive one that aims to put the nation on track towards prosperity. I professionally see those who are opposing a more transparent polity as misguided and ill-informed, well that’s if they don’t have anything to hide.
I want to end by stating that I do have a close eye on the political development in Bahrain. Many told me that a group of young ‘wannabes’ are unethically attempting to create an unstable political environment to serve their personal interests. I never believed and wouldn’t want to drag myself into cynicism. I do hope that we all commit ourselves to the reality that there is always more information out there for us to learn from and that we should all place our collective interests above our individual or selective group interests.