Yacoub Al Nasser: What Did King Want from Charter?

2019-03-15 - 11:26 p

*Yacoub Al Nasser

The steps taken by Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa after assuming power in March 1999 do not reflect even a fragment of willingness to work towards political reform, as the man hasn't ever stood behind a reformist project, or even had a different vision to move the country forward into a space other than that in which it has remained in under the reigns of his father or grandfathers.

His steps were merely a maneuver aimed primarily at rescheming the map of power and monopoly of decision-making. In other words, the new Emir wanted to create a political system by which he would rule without competitors after he had shared power with his father and uncle Khalifa bin Salman, under an unwritten agreement. The reversal of this agreement required a significant change in the system form.

If Hamad didn't accept his uncle's participation in power, then he would certainly not accept the opposition's. However, he found that gaining the widest support in voting for a national action project would be a gateway to obtain an open mandate to transform the emirate into a monarchy and make the constitutional changes he wants.

It was like a white coup against his uncle Khalifa bin Salman even if he wasn't able to depose him. He clearly managed through the Charter to appoint himself as a king and head of the three authorities. As a result, he gained the greatest powers allowing him to appoint the government and control the country's resources, lands and waters.

The opposition were included in the project, as Hamad bin Isa greatly exploited the security ordeal they were living in, in order to pass his maneuver. It seemed as a barter by which he would put an end to the brutality of the state courts and security agency in return for receiving the necessary support for the Charter.

It is true that the new Emir did not say so openly, but he attempted to portray himself as if he was in conflict with the remnants of the old reign and he needed to get enough legitimacy to confront them, before reforming these remnants by his influence.

It is true that the new Emir was on the same page with the opposition in putting an end to the influence of Khalifa bin Salman even after turning against the constitution, but the agendas of both parties did not meet at all on political and administrative reform, as Hamad bin Isa only wanted to take his uncle's place in practicing power and theft.

That's what in fact took place. Among the decrees issued by Hamad bin Isa, immediately after the proclamation of the Constitution, was decree-Law No. 19 of 2002, which bans the disposition of land plots without his consent. This formed a clear manifestation of Hamad's intention to run a land grabbing race with his uncle.

This race in the ruling family created major problems in the governance of the state and caused massive bleeding of resources. An investigation published by the Financial Times in December 2014 can reveal the value of the lands seized by the King in this widespread race.

The race, in its political sphere, emerged for the first time when Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad (January 14, 2008) wrote to his father complaining about the government's lack of cooperation with the Economic Development Board, before the latter warned that he would dismiss any member of the Government who doesn't implement his son's directives.

After 20 years of the King's reign, the conflicting policies and competition between the Development Council, the Government and the Royal court remain, which has added considerable complexity to the tensions of the country's political and economic situation, the latest of which was the conflict that erupted last March between the Royal court and the Prime Minister's office, which prompted Nasser bin Hamad to publicly warn of "malicious attempts to undermine relations between King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa"

*Bahraini Residing in Finland

Arabic Version



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