Restoring Hope

Hasan Moosa Shafaei

When he stayed away from the political arena, this was seen as an indication of a political and human rights crisis in the country. But when he re-entered the scene after two years, hope was restored. This sums up what can be said about the appointment of the Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa as First Deputy Prime Minister.

The opposition was optimistic and welcomed this step and put forward a number of serious issues for him to resolve. Arab and Western capitals, as well as International human rights figures and bodies welcomed this step, and saw in it a potential solution which can help take Bahrain out of its current crisis along the road towards stability, democracy and peace. It is clear that even ordinary citizens are optimistic and see the Crown Prince as a popular, humble and bold figure, who is capable of making di?ficult decisions and tackling contentious issues with due transparency .

Both the opposition and the loyalists want Bahrain to come to its senses, and return to its happiness and tolerance, whilst moving swiftly towards the future by making the necessary decisions for overcoming the current phase. Political and human rights issues have become very much intertwined, to the extent that it is difficult to tackle one and ignore the other. For this reason, one can find among the politicians and human rights activists in Bahrain, shared hopes and aspirations towards equality, justice? freedom, democracy and prosperity.

It is evident that the Crown Prince is aware of the complexity and magnitude of the problem. He does not want to disappoint the people of Bahrain or the friends abroad, and would like to prove that he is able to restore peace and stability, and create a new momentum for serious and effective reforms. The Crown Prince had previously stated in the media that the pace of past reforms had been slow, and that their benefits failed to reach all citizens.

Currently, everyone hopes that the Crown Prince will be able to address the cumulative problems in the country. In his letter to the King on 11 March 2011, he highlighted the problems that Bahrain has experienced during the last two years. He also vowed to work towards making Bahrain a model of tolerance and cohesion through the respect of diversity, democracy and fundamental freedoms. This is in addition to promoting a concept of citizenship based on duties and obligations, equality, equal opportunities?and promoting economic development and stability. During the first session of the Council of Ministers, he talked about the importance of putting forward a political programme that suits the requirements of the modern age and satisfies the will of the Bahraini people. He also stressed the importance of overcoming all challenges with the participation of all Bahrainis without any exception, marginalization or discrimination.

Today, Bahrain needs a political solution which could be achieved through dialogue and consensus. National dialogue currently faces many challenges which necessitate the direct involvement of the Crown Prince. A political solution will reduce most, if not all of the security tensions in the country. No economy can develop during political and security crisis nor can social divisions be tackled apart from the political issue. All the current problems are strongly intertwined and can mainly be attributed to ?olitical disagreements between various parties. Addressing the political issue is a priority, without which, Bahrainis will find it very difficult to heal their wounds and return to normality.

The citizens are attaching their hopes on the Crown Prince, though the current situation requires solutions that could be painful to everyone. These solutions should be consensual and would require compromises, trust and selflessness among political parties in the interest of a stable and prosperous Bahrain. The tense situation in the region requires adopting fast initiatives in order to protect the country and enable it to confront foreign challenges.