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.
We never know everything. We spend our life learning.
Secretive meetings with foreign powers are always held, the most important is to distinguish the constructive meetings from the destructive ones.
I always believe that opposition is good as far as it is for the only purpose of a political equilibrium.
Everybody has been abroad has met a lot of foreigners and he met and will meet a lot of foreigners, they could meet anywhere in this world and chat in a coffee shop, restaurant … but this is does not mean that they have to disclose Confidential Information / Material about one nation, negotiating illegal weapon traffic as Hizbollah is doing, they must not be negotiating to sponsor a TV channel… some others they are just proposing to sponsor a Campaign Election of a Political Party of another country to which they are not supposed to be directly or indirectly related to.
Apparently, such kinds of meetings are not “secretive meetings” as long as they are held in public areas and they may be hold with intermediates.
Starting from last June, everybody heard about the troubles of “Gezi Parkı” of Taksim in Turkey, from a point of view of the prosperity of Turkey, I am against what happened as the shopping mall which will replace the “Gezi Parkı” will offer at least 2000 new jobs for Turkish especially that this mall will be in the most visited square of Turkey where there is at least 6 million people going to this square per day including tourists, but anyone thought about the hidden part of this … anyone read between the lines …
Economically, the KYC “Know Your Customer” exercise must be improved, as the economy is influencing directly politics of each country.
This is the “Secretive meetings” and the lack of knowledge of the SUPREMCY OF THE NATION.
I totally agree that there is misguidance but I would add that there is inattention to details which is required by politicians, this is why not everybody could be a politician.
It’s quite obvious why meetings cannot be announced in Bahrain. The Bahrain government would not allow it. Catch 22?
I feel sorry to inform you that BAHRAIN is very democtratic country. It is more than enough to find the opposition in the Parliament.
The opposition are not discussing the most important in the parliamant and they prefer secretive meetings with foreign powers which is against the Supremacy of the Nation
And my point is that meetings are not allowed in Bahrain. In a democracy they would be allowed. Since they are not allowed this means: 1) you do not have a democracy and 2) meetings must be in secret since you don’t have a democracy.
Can you explain why it is so terrible for the opposition to meet with diplomats? It happens in every other democratic country without shocking results.
My dear friend Jan Ryan. Thank you for your comment. Whether meetings are allowed in democracies or not should not be an example for Bahrain to implement. However, in the US for example, as stated above, meeting foreign powers have to be notified to the authorities.
The point here is that countries should allow themselves to focus not on democracy only, which is one of the means towards prosperity with all its developed institutions, but to focus on what needs to be implemented in order to insure a safe and secure environment to allow prosperity to occur.
Small countries and big countries differ in their governance because of the difference in global power they have. Smaller countries get to be bullied easily, so they need to institute proper pillars to protect their existence.
Some people believe that a western style democracy is the best system in the world. If you dig a bit, its clear that leadership is bought in the west. You cannot win an election without a LOT of money. So in my book, out goes that model of democracy because ultimately elected officials have to pay back those that funded their election.
Personally, here in the gulf we should back the model of the leader that does good for the majority. No human is perfect, therefore, we can expect mistakes from these leaders. I believe we stick with them rather than harp about democracy.
With the single resource they have – oil – they have already proved capable by giving most here a good standard of living. If you doubt that, just have a look at countries like Nigeria, Angola etc – great examples of wealth being squandered.
Of course, there is room for improvement – but democracy – western style – is not the answer.