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Bahrain key if Saudi-Iran lock is to be opened (Comment: Special to IANS)
Photo Credit: FAYEZ NURELDINE, Getty Images

Bahrain key if Saudi-Iran lock is to be opened (Comment: Special to IANS)

Aug 2 2013, 4:38am CDT | by IANS

President Mohammad Morsi has barely been ousted and, lo and behold, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process is already on track. It was important that Morsi vacated the scene for the process to be salvaged because the Muslim Brotherhood had firm links with Hamas with whom talks were unthinkable. So the losers along with the Brothers in Egypt are all the Brotherhood enthusiasts in the region - Qatar, Turkey, Hamas, Tunisia. This reverses key political trends in the region. The Saudis emerge on top here, facilitating John Kerry's diplomacy on Palestine.

President Mohammad Morsi has barely been ousted and, lo and behold, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process is already on track. It was important that Morsi vacated the scene for the process to be...

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51 weeks ago

Bahrain key if Saudi-Iran lock is to be opened (Comment: Special to IANS)

Aug 2 2013, 4:38am CDT | by IANS

President Mohammad Morsi has barely been ousted and, lo and behold, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process is already on track. It was important that Morsi vacated the scene for the process to be salvaged because the Muslim Brotherhood had firm links with Hamas with whom talks were unthinkable. So the losers along with the Brothers in Egypt are all the Brotherhood enthusiasts in the region - Qatar, Turkey, Hamas, Tunisia. This reverses key political trends in the region. The Saudis emerge on top here, facilitating John Kerry's diplomacy on Palestine.

President Mohammad Morsi has barely been ousted and, lo and behold, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process is already on track. It was important that Morsi vacated the scene for the process to be salvaged because the Muslim Brotherhood had firm links with Hamas with whom talks were unthinkable. So the losers along with the Brothers in Egypt are all the Brotherhood enthusiasts in the region - Qatar, Turkey, Hamas, Tunisia. This reverses key political trends in the region. The Saudis emerge on top here, facilitating John Kerry's diplomacy on Palestine.

European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, obtained from Gen. Abdul Fattah el Sissi the permission to meet Morsi who is confined in a secret location. This "reasonableness" on the part of the army chief "humanizes" him just enough for the US to abide by the financial commitments to Egypt which underpin the country's 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Little wonder, Israelis have been imploring Washington not to declare Morsi's ouster a coup. Under US law, Gen. Sissi would forfeit American largesse if he is seen to be a "coup leader".

There are some obvious expectations the present regime in Cairo has of Riyadh. One expectation, the Saudis have already fulfilled - financial, along which almost automatically comes political support. Saudis will also be expected to leverage their influence on the Salafists or the al Noor party so that the post Morsi structure is not destabilized by extremism.

Meanwhile, the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran Aug 4 will provide a contrast to Arab scene. Britain's ex-foreign secretary Jack Straw and ex-EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will attend the ceremonies. This will be signal enough to others who will doubtless follow.

There is enough good sense in Riyadh to realize that sectarian conflict is no substitute for strategy towards Tehran. Competition between Riyadh and Tehran is inevitable. Equally, continued open hostility is unsustainable.

The key to a Riyadh-Tehran rapprochement is Bahrain. A 37-km causeway links Saudi Arabia's oil bearing, Shia-dominated eastern province to this small kingdom, which is also home to the US Fifth Fleet. Neither the Saudis nor the Americans will abandon their key interests. This much is clear.

Before the Arab Spring created an emergency situation, Saudi King Abdullah had handled the eastern province with great sensitivity. In less tense moments he will realize the obvious: it is inhuman that the staunchly Sunni regime in Bahrain should treat 80 percent of the population, all Shias, as the "opposition". This majority population has faced repression for demanding human rights since the Arab Spring first stirred. Two years ago, the US had taken an initiative to broker an agreement between the two sides.

For over 200 years, the Khalifa family have been emirs of Bahrain. A decade ago, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa declared himself king. Kingship has a built in dynastic possibility: a crown prince, in this case Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa. There is also room for reform. Bahrain can easily become a constitutional monarchy, should circumstances so demand.

With royal courts come court intrigues. The King's uncle, Khalifa Ibn Salman al Khalifa, has been Prime Minister from the day the king ascended the throne. It is universally acknowledged in Bahrain that not only is he the most powerful man in the kingdom but also the most corrupt. I heard this from all sides in Bahrain.

When the Arab Spring first swept through Tunisia and Egypt in 2011, people came out on the streets in almost every West Asian capital. In no instance was the state structure exposed as being more tilted against its own people. As demonstrations invited brutal crackdown by the armed police, mostly Pakistani conscripts, Bahrain's friends began to see the structure as untenable.

Americans took a welcome initiative. US envoy Jeffery Feltman sketched a compromise agreement between Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa and a moderate Shia leader, Sheikh Ali Salman. Sheikh Salman was in tears when I met him. "The prime minister has killed all chances of peace."

Before the agreement could even be discussed, which would give the Shias reasonable representation in the state structure, the prime minister mobilized the support of the then hard line interior security apparatus in Riyadh. Saudi tanks and GCC armoured personnel carriers rolled down the Saudi-Bahrain causeway. That was the knee jerk response two years ago. The Saudis are much wiser now that the Spring has turned to Autumn. Should not the Feltman initiative be picked up now that both the Americans and the Saudis may be looking to open the Iranian lock of which Bahrain is the key?

(A senior commentator on political and diplomatic affairs, Saeed Naqvi can be reached on saeed.naqvi@hotmail.com)

IANS

Source: IANS

 
Update
5

1 week ago

EU Leaders Fail to Agree Top Jobs in Brussels

Jul 17 2014 1:28pm CDT | Source: Big Government

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Visits His Grandmother's Town Grassano And Receives Honorary Citizenship
Leaders of the 28 member states of the European Union failed in the early hours of this morning to agree how to share out the remaining three top jobs in Brussels, after tensions over the appointment of a new EU foreign policy chief made agreement impossible. The European Council meeting ended in deadlock after member states from Eastern Europe insisted no decision could be taken on a replacement for Catherine Ashton as High Representati ...
Source: Big Government   Full article at: Big Government
 

 
Update
4

1 week ago

Euro Parliament Threatens to Veto Male Commissioners

Jul 16 2014 5:09am CDT | Source: Big Government

David Cameron Visits The Shetland Islands
After wrenching the power to select the next president of the European Commission away from the leaders of the member states, the European Parliament is now moving to take control of the selection of individual commissioners away from national governments. Martin Schulz, the German socialist president of the parliament, warned national leaders on Tuesday that unless they nominate what he calls "enough" women as commissioners, the parliament will reject ...
Source: Big Government   Full article at: Big Government
 

 
Update
3

1 week ago

Iran Nuclear Talks Falter With Kerry In Vienna

Jul 13 2014 7:33pm CDT | Source: Politics - The Huffington Post

Bernhard Wicki Award 2014
VIENNA (AP) — Joint efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and three other Western foreign ministers failed Sunday to advance faltering nuclear talks with Iran, with the target date for a deal only a week away. "There has been no breakthrough today," said British Foreign Secretary William Hague after meetings with Kerry and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Iran. The trip gave Kerry a chance to ease an espionage dispute with Germany. After meeting wit ...
Source: Politics - The Huffington Post   Full article at: Politics - The Huffington Post
 

 
Update
2

5 weeks ago

IDF Works to Dismantle Hamas Infrastructure on the West Bank in 5th Day Since Israeli Teens Kidnapped

Jun 17 2014 2:37pm CDT | Source: Big Government

Noam Shalit (R), whose soldier son Gilad
First, some facts on the ground. Then, a brief Talmudic discussion of how civilized peoples are supposed to deal with someone who is “coming to kill you.” Here’s what Israel just did: Last night, the IDF went door to door in cities in the West Bank and confiscated a huge cache of weapons. Photos and a video show what they found in Nablus/Shechem, a city that has an ancient Jewish Biblical-era history. It is now a city ready for battle. Here’s what members of the local Palestinian community did: ...
Source: Big Government   Full article at: Big Government
 

 

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