Old Man Yells at Cloud: April 2nd
Bahrain and Israel are sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
Another Friday, another bit of news coming out of the Gulf that makes me ashamed to be Bahraini. On Tuesday the 30th of March, Bahrain announced the appointment of Khalid Yousif Al-Jalahma as ambassador to Israel. Given that Bahrain is an absolute monarchy, I suppose I can be absolved of the sins of the country but ever since the Abraham Accords were signed with Israel I have been seething.
Bahrain has had an interesting relationship with the Palestinian cause. Many Palestinians exiled from Jordan following the events of Black September in 1970 found themselves in Bahrain, where they helped found the military of the newly independent nation. The Sunni royal House of Khalifa, governing a Shi’a majority country, found in the Palestinian exiles a reliable Sunni bloc that can staff sensitive positions in the Ministries of Defence and Interior. In return, those exiles received good jobs in the state security apparatus with well-paying jobs and a cavalcade of benefits. Now this is what some would call the art of the deal.
What’s interesting about the recent push by Bahrain to normalize ties with Israel is a hidden bonus for the ruling Khalifas. As Israel makes life for the Palestinians more and more unbearable, some will inevitably be forced to leave. Bahrain may then offer a chance for refuge, while also giving the Khalifa family an opportunity to alter the country’s demographics in favor of the Sunni minority and a dependable community of loyalists to the regime.
That is not to say that the Bahraini people are themselves against Palestinians. Bahrainis by and large support the Palestinian cause. I personally welcome any refugee to take asylum in Bahrain, and have no qualms with an open immigration policy. What makes this particular situation different is the Bahraini monarchy’s intent to manipulate sectarian sentiment to shore up support. The regime invites Sunnis from Syria, Palestine, Yemen, and Pakistan to staff the army and police while at the same time locking indigenous Shi’a Bahrainis out of so-called “sensitive” sectors of work. In other words, this mass naturalization program for Sunni immigrants is a cynical ploy by the Khalifas to play with Bahrain’s ethnosectarian make-up, not a benevolent act of kindness to refugees of war.
Consider this: if the Bahrain regime truly cared about those Palestinian, Syrian, and Yemeni refugees, why is it involved in wars in all the aforementioned countries? Bahraini aircraft participated in the Saudi-led coalition’s air strikes in Yemen. The Bahraini government joined Saudi Arabia to fund Syrian Salafist rebels against the Assad government. And now, Bahrain normalizes ties with Israel even as the Zionist entity expands its illegal settlements and brutalizes the Palestinian population beyond recourse. For Bahrain’s autocratic monarchy, the foreign policy acts in perfect synchronization with their domestic priorities.
On that happy note, I hope everyone enjoys the Easter weekend and/or Passover. This has been another edition of my new “Old Man Yells at Cloud” series that I think will supplant the Friday Sermons. With the Old Man series, I will try to take a more casual tone as Fridays are for chill vibes. I hope you enjoy this weekly newsletter, let me know what you think. See you next week, folks.