Friday, May 11, 2007
This parliament, as fellow blogger Nido put it, is a like a coat hanger, we hang all our problems on it without seeing their causes. In fact it is doing more harm then good; frankly it's a distraction, a mass deception, resource-sucking game of ping-pong (picture alwefaq holding the bat from the mouth and hands tied). I don't say this nihilistically, I say it realistically. George Orwell said in 1984, "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two equals four. If that is granted then all else follows". Well, lets see what Alwefaq will get if it keeps saying it equals five.
Unfortunately, part of the problem is a communal political elite that has become an exclusive gentleman's club (a.k.a. Alwefaq). Many an insider has talked about the defeatist and compromising attitude that seems to have overshadowed this group. Well the question is, has this reflected on Alwefaq's political strategy? Lets look at the list of decisions that have effectively lead to the gradual neutralisation of the opposition through a series of concessions to the governemt:
- Registering Alwefaq under the political societies law - effectively bringing it under the auspices of a constitution that it effectively contends to be illegitimate
- Effectively giving up on the constitutional conference after this, and after foreign participants were not allowed to enter Bahrain. From then on none of the political societies challenged this or contested the ban on foreign participants
- The decision to end it's boycott of the parliament and to participate in the 2006 elections on the condition that electoral boundaries are changed to proportional representation. Somewhere along the line Alwefaq disbanded this condition.
- The break-up of the quaternary alliance that up until the 2006 elections was a quasi-unified opposition force that was supposed to transcend ideological and sectarian lines. This was a key strategic mistake on Alwefaq's behalf and now it is clear that it accelerated the fragmentation of the opposition.
- Failing to secure key posts in the parliament at the outset (the Chairmanship of the House), they walked out and they walked right back in.
- The secrecy and underhand dealings in the society's decision-making process. What happened and what was said in meetings with members of the royal family? What deal did they strike with Alasala and almenbar etc?
- Failing to raise any significant questions throughout the period of the first session of parliament, then attempting to do so at the last minute. Walking out when the motion was rejected, and by the looks of it, Alwefaq MP's will walk right back in.
- Obscure priorities and motivations. What is alwefaq's agenda over the next four years and why has it not maintained a consultative relationship at least with other political players outside parliament, including other politically shunned groups such as Wa'ad and Haqq.
This is just a basic list that springs to my mind. I am told that Alwefaq never expected to face the full force of the state machine in parliament; that a nicey-nicey give-and-ake approach would lead to gradual change. I agree, this approach might get you some peanuts (maybe a few extra pavements, an increase in a measly budget etc), but when it steps into the realm of 'accountability', a basic democratic tenet, the 'democratic' carpet is pulled from right under their feet. What Bandargate gave Alwefaq, was one key GOLDEN opportunity, just one; he gave them the evidence; the documents, the cheques, the signatures, the names. Not in a million years would anyone have thought incriminating evidence would fall into the opposition's lap. We see and hear corruption, but until now, the black-box of the state machine was heavily guarded. It as if you have always suspected your husband was having an affair and then suddenly u find the red lipstick on his collar. Albandar's kiss-and-tell pointed out the household names (journalists, MPs, officials) yet they walk-around arrogantly in the comfort-zone carved nicely by their protectors. It's no surprise Alwefaq was halted in its tracks the minute they raised the issue, albeit with completely silly timing at the end of the parliamentary session before the curtain was closed.
Talks of a new 'resistance' movement, or 'lines of prevention' (خط الممانعة) seems to be forming by a disconnected grassroots movement that is taking the tentative steps to reassert itself. As of late, this seems to have begun with sporadic bouts of violence in areas as a response to the frustration with the political players lack of advancement in any particular field. What is interesting is that it seems to be a clear dissent from the religious line that supports engagement in the given political channels. وهذه عادة ضعفاء العقول يعرفون الحق بالرجال، لا الرجال بالحق
Is this just another part of the cycle and as my generation comes to maturity, will this ding-dong continue for much longer?