|His Majesty King Hamad
Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa
Stability is prerequisite for progress
By His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa
On 19 April 2011, His Majesty the King of Bahrain
wrote an article in The Washington Times in which he discussed the
recent political, economic and security situation in the country.
Some parts of the article are directly related to the future of
the political and human rights situation in Bahrain. The BHRM is
publishing His Majesty’s article so that the readers can have a
comprehensive picture of the developments taking place in the country.
The winds of change that are sweeping the region hit the shores
of Bahrain. Demands for well-paying jobs, transparency in economic
affairs and access to better social services were received with
good will. There is no doubt that grievances about civil and political
rights for all Bahrainis are legitimate. In response, we offered
an unconditional dialogue with the opposition so as to maintain
the stability of our country and address the demands for reform.
Unfortunately, the legitimate demands of the opposition were
hijacked by extremist elements with ties to foreign governments
in the region. It became very clear that the stability, safety and
economic viability of our country were being threatened. We took
immediate action to stabilize the situation and at the same time
welcomed the entry of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) troops, whose
task was not to suppress the protesters - as some of our neighbours
have alleged - but to protect the essential and crucial facilities
and installations in Bahrain.
At that moment, we had to make a decision not just for the stability
and safety of our countrymen but also for the region. Bahrain lies
at the epicenter of Gulf security and any violent upheaval in Bahrain
would have enormous geopolitical consequences. Global economic stability
depends on the uninterrupted export of crude oil from the Gulf to
markets around the world - a job that historically has been assigned
to the U.S. Fifth Fleet. Seventy percent of the world’s remaining
oil reserves are in the Gulf and more than 30 percent of the oil
from the region flows through the territorial waters of Bahrain.
The Gulf countries, for their part, shoulder the responsibility
to protect these reserves and ensure the safety and security of
the oil tankers and the oil pipelines that carry them to the world.
These pipelines extend thousands of kilometers throughout the Arabian
Today we are trying very hard to improve the process of reform
and rectify those problems that have arisen along the way. Sectarian
divide has created a schism in our society that is a major challenge.
As monarch of all Bahrainis, it pains me to see many harmed by the
actions of a few. And yet I am optimistic and have faith in our
people. We all realize that now is the time to strike a balance
between stability and gradual reform, always adhering to the universal
values of human rights, free expression and religious tolerance.
I am confident that we can strike this balance in cooperation with
our long-time friend and ally, the United States, producing an outcome
that will preserve the aspirations of our young democracy in transition.
Along with our friends in the GCC, the first order of business
is stability. Beyond the imperative of stability, the most important
priority is job creation for all Bahrainis.
We invite American companies looking to raise capital to list
on the Bahrain Stock Exchange (BSE). The region has a liquidity
oversupply approximating $1 trillion and this pool of capital can
be tapped into by creative American companies. The next Facebook
may very well get funded on the BSE.
An important element of job creation is the enactment of a GCC
“Marshal Plan” for Bahrain. Our neighbours - Qatar, Saudi Arabia,
Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates - can take a lead role in funding
infrastructure and energy projects. For example, Qatar can fast-track
the construction of the much touted Bahrain-Qatar causeway. This
will allow for immediate employment of hundreds of Bahrainis.
An integral element of any support for Bahrain should be a scholarship
program for Bahrainis from all walks of life to obtain their undergraduate
and graduate degrees in the United States. Education is the best
investment our GCC neighbours can make in the future of Bahrain.
The rationale is simple: The prerequisite to better paying jobs
is a world-class education. This investment will allow our citizens
not only the opportunity to bring their skills back to Bahrain and
put it to productive use, but also allow them to gain meaningful
employment within the GCC.
Last but not least, we would welcome a joint U.S.-GCC effort
to fund and implement a training program in the United States for
new recruits to the Bahraini police force and army.
When I was a student at the Army War College in Ft. Leavenworth,
Kan., it was very clear to me that the American experience was a
model well worth emulating. The events that have unfolded since
February offer new opportunities for both of our countries.