The Crown Prince: When will Dialogue Begin?

On 7 December 2012, the Crown Prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, delivered a speech in his opening address to the dialogue of Manama Forum, during which he highlighted several important issues regarding the situation in the country including the following:

Firstly: The importance of understanding the root of the crisis and the reality of the political changes in contemporary Arab societies. The Crown Prince noted, based on Bahrain’s experience and other experiences, that the political reform process always witnesses challenges and turning points, (it might reverse the situation to its starting point or deal with it, resolve it and move forward with the political process). The reason behind these challenges is that the aspirations and ambitions of societies are constantly developing and have no limits. These ambitions can increase rapidly due to the technological revolution and it is important to focus on the repercussions of this as well as the use of social networking.

Moreover, the political events and sweeping changes in the region during the last two years are numerous and great and naturally have impacted local affairs in the country. These changes, according to the Crown Prince are positive but can have a destructive impact if not directed into the correct channels. He added that the region is witnessing a division between demands for democratic rights and threats to these very same freedoms. Among these challenges facing Bahrain is the fact that the society has become divided and this requires careful understanding and awareness in order to deal with this new situation (by finding) a solution to the disagreements with minimum human losses.

The speech also highlighted the fact that crisis gives foreign countries an opportunity to interfere which may affect the positions of the countries. The Crown Prince also made a distinction between countries which want to help Bahrain through maintaining moderate stances and those which are partial and aim at increasing the tension between the Government and the opposition. He also thanked a number of countries that helped Bahrain including Britain for its constructive strategy with all parties by using diplomacy without discrimination. This is in addition to its support to a number of initiatives concerning reform and development. He also thanked Singapore, South Korea and Japan for maintaining open channels of communication in order to end the crisis. Furthermore, the Crown Prince called upon Western governments to follow in the footsteps of Britain and play a balanced role with all parties and provide constructive criticism.

Secondly: The Crown Prince’s speech also contained several indications with regards to the solution to the crisis in Bahrain including the following:

1- The Bahraini Royal family sees itself as the representative of all segments of society and highlighted that he is the Crown Prince of both the Sunnis and Shiites.

2- Bassiouni’s report is the main reference for documenting what took place and implementing its recommendations is an important step in recovering from the crisis. Also, future political reforms should be based on these recommendations.

3- Political dialogue should be adopted in order to solve political disagreements and confront violence. The Crown Prince stressed that violence is not a solution and called upon political and religious leaders to prevent violence and restore trust in order to facilitate dialogue. The points of this speech are reasonable and cannot be rejected by anyone who desires stability and development in a democratic and free Bahrain. But the question that has been bothering citizens and monitors is: when will this dialogue begin?