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Notes

* Many passages in this section are adapted from an earlier article , 'Labor Movements in Bahrain', Merip Reports, May 1985. [*]

1 al-Nabhani (1923:23-96) gives details of tumultuous eight decades following the conquest. Infighting continued within among various tribes as well as within the al-Khalifa themselves. Mostly to pre-empt interventions by regional powers, Persian, Wahhabi, and Ottoman, Britain deployed its naval force to restore order in the country. One of last British naval deployments took place in 1869 in order to depose an-Khalifa ruler and install another. The latter, Shiekh Issa, was himself deposed by the British in a similar fashion in 1923. (see also; Altajjer,1994:101-150;and al-Falaki, 1955: pp25-46). [*]

2 See appendix D, in Khuri (1980, pp. 262-3) for a list of names of some of local Shia wazirs, up to the implementation of reforms. 'To maximize rents' writes Khuri 'the landlord shaikhs were advised by [local] specialists who had knowledge of the soil, date crops, water resources , irrigation, type of palm tree and the like.../... Through their connections with Al-Khalifa Shaikhs, the Wazirs, who were all Shia, earned high status and wielded influence in their respective villages. Those who were able to accumulate wealth still enjoy a leading position in their communities'. (p.47). [*]

3. While 'everyday forms of resistance were originally associated with peasants it is not strictly a peasantry affair. Susan Ekstien notes (1989: 8-9) that all subordinates social groups may resist conditions imposed by dominant groups in roughly similar ways. Sir Charles Belgrave (1960), the British advisor to the rulers of Bahrain 1926-57, gives an illustration of the intricate role of weapons of the weak in local politics:
'.... Bus- and taxi drivers went on strike. They copied the technique of the Beirut taxi-drivers who constantly went on strike. They caused an almost total dislocation of traffic by organising bands of small boys -and sometimes girls- who strewed the roads with nails, struck through Coca-Cola bottle tops, which punctured the tyres of hundreds of cars. The boys used to dash out from narrow lanes, lay a few nails and watch the results from dark alleys where they could easily retreat. It may sound absurd that the activity of lads and children caused such serious trouble, but it was very difficult for the police to catch them, and although a number of boys who were caught were suitably dealt with they were not deterred. The strike was to some extent due to the high premiums which were demanded by British and other insurance companies. When the Government gave permission to a local company to compete with the foreign companies most of the opposition died away and the strike ended. However having once learned 'the nail game' small boys found it such a fascinating occupation that they engaged in it whenever there was any trouble in Bahrain, and sometimes they played it for their amusement'.p.204 [*]

4. Land registration also led to the consolidation confessional components of social segmentation. Some 'unclaimed' and 'disputed' plots of lands were registered as religious awkaf, religious endowments. Two endowment councils, a Shia and a Sunni, were formed to oversee the use of these properties. To these councils, the ruler appointed clerics and other notables of respective sect [*]

5. Although work conditions in the oil industry were by far better than those of their former occupations, oil workers carried sporadic work stoppages to demand improvements. The first prolonged and organised industrial strike was in December 1943. The strike was successful, partly because the British feared its influence on the war effort in the region. (See: Abdulla Khalid, 1979:104-121). [*]

6. Sir Charles Belgrave (1960) writes that before his arrival in 1926, 'Arab tribes 1iving in Bahrain, such as the Naim and the Bin Ali and, earlier on, the Dawasir, played an important part in affairs. Their allegiance to the Khalifa family had been encouraged by grants of land and they had become wealthy from pearl trade. As the industry declined the tribes became impoverished and the young men broke away from tribal dependency. Today few of the younger generation attach importance to their tribal origin, and the fact that a man belongs to the Naim or the Bin Ali, carries no social prestige, except in the eyes of the ruling family' (p.127) [*]

7 Yousif al-Falaki (1955) ( a pseudonym for one of NUC radicals) emphasises that the formation of the GTU is a response to grassroot pressures on NUC leadership. [*]

8. Although writing with deep bitterness, following his forced retirement in 1957, Sir Charles Belgrave, was generally correct when he writes 'They [the NUC leadership] declared there were no longer any differences between Sunnis and Shias, and that all people in Bahrain were merged in the popular movement, yet they took the greatest care to appoint an equal number of Sunnis and Shias on all their committee, even in the case of the representatives sent to discuss matters with the Sheikh.' (p. 239) [*]

9. NLF is the communist party in Bahrain. ANM was the Bahraini section of the Arab Nationalist Movement ( later a section of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Moan and Arabia Gulf, and presently the Popular Front -Bahrain). [*]

10. Since its inception, BDF officers corpse have been the restricted domain of al-Khalifa and their immediate tribal allies. Until 1981, access of Shia youth to BDF, through suitable intermediary patrons, was restricted to non-commissioned positions. Until 1987, lists of soldiers imprisoned on political grounds, include persons of Shia and Sunni backgrounds. Following the botched 'attempt' to stage a military coup d'Étate in 1981, (see note no.11 below) the BDF stopped recruiting Shia and discharged all its Shia soldiers, mechanics, drivers and other sundry staff. Currently, the BDF is an exclusive Sunni tribal space. [*]

11 According to Dr. Hussain al-Baharna, one of the senior Bahraini participant in those negotiation, 'Most emirates, objected the democratic principle proposed by Bahrain at the onset of the constitutional negotiations concerning direct election of members of the [proposed Federal ] Council by people of each emirates separately. The general opinion moved [instead] towards appointment of members of National Council by the concerned government'. (1973:64)[*]

12. Census figures for 1965 and 1971 show that the number of government local employees increased by 50% making the government, by far, the largest, employer in the country. [*]

13. The regime's generous mood and feelings of gratitude extended itself to granting citizenship to persons recommended by tribal, business and clerical interests. Sheikh Hadi al-Modarresi, a well-known member of the Iraqi Islamists underground living in exile in Kuwait, was a conspicuous recipients of the citizenship favour. al-Modarresi, arrived to Bahrain in 1972 as a guest preacher. Favours granted to al-Modarrisi may be seen as expressions of the gratitude felt by the ruling family for the support it received from his Shia sponsors, particularly Ayatollah Mohammed al-Shirazi, his maternal uncle. However these favours also reminded local clerical establishment of the regime's ability to by-pass them and obtain support from much senior Shia authorities abroad. Upon his arrival to Bahrain, on the eve of its independence, al-Modarrisi, became widely engaged speaker in various Shia religious ceremonies. Like his communist predecessors, from mid 1950s, al-Modarresi brought to Bahrain lessons learnt from underground activities in a more advance and a more brutal environment. However, unlike them, he did not consider his short residency in Bahrain as a factor limiting his understanding of local conditions. Moreover, he seems to have considered his presence in Bahrain a personal call, a mission, to build and lead, just like Khomeini did, the oppressed masses, at whatever costs. Working in the shadow of Shia clerical establishment and its parliamentary outgrowth, he founded several cells of Shia militancy that aspire to more than the a communal role of the Shia clerics or the national role of religionist parliamentary bloc. With the help of regular appearance in government-owned radio and television, following dissolution of parliament, he presented ideas that appealed to young urban Shia. As it happened, organising urban Shia youth suited the regime's policy that encouraged diffused representation. As a Bahraini citizen, following an Amiri gratuity, al-Modaressi sermons suited the official view of acceptable religious sermons: warning against dangers of atheism and other 'imported ideologies' and calling for modest behaviour and piety. Tense relation between his disciples on the one hand and, on the other, supporters of both traditional Shia clerics and religionist former parliamentarians reflected a simmering rural-urban strain. Following the triumph of Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, al-Modarresi was allegedly involved in organising various actions in support of the revolution. He was deported in the summer of 1979 and, later, accused of master-minding a botched plan to stage a coup d'Étate in 1980. Following his deportation the ILF revealed that during his stay in Bahrain, al-Modarrissi was appointed by Imam Khomeini, himself, as his own representative in the country. (See for example, ILF: Communique, dated 28/8/1979). [*]

14 On one of most controversial issues, women's equal rights, religious candidates acquired a fatwa from a local senior Shia religious authority condemning as un-Islamic a paragraph in the leftist election manifesto calling for 'equal , economic, political and social rights of women'. The leftist candidates managed to convince the same religious authority to issue a counter fatwa. In this the condemning use of religious fatwas in election campaigns. [*]

15 The leftists campaigned as a list, the People's Bloc, with a common election manifesto. Eight of its 12 candidates were elected. All are known as secularists with a history of underground political activity. Most of them have spent time as political detainees. Religionist bloc, of whom only two were practising clerics, was less formal. Its membership vacillated between six and four, depending on the issues under consideration. Parliamentary balance of power caused that they were wooed by their parliamentary colleagues as well as by the regime. The latter may also considered them as an addition to its network of intermediary patrons. The religionists own perception of their -importance received additional inspirations by developments outside Bahrain. From articles and editorials of their mouthpiece, the Bahraini weekly al-Mawakif, it became increasingly clear that they look up to the example of the Lebanese Shia movement, Amal, of Imam al-Sadr. Most of the remaining, the independents, have in the past, been political involved, either as NUC activists or, for the younger ones, while studying abroad. See Khuri (1980) for more details. [*]

16. This would only partially fit Chaterji's otherwise inaccurate account (1987:547) that '[i]nexperience rather a conscious desire to create mischief rendered the procedure for the first few months rather farcical'. [*]

17. The decree state, inter alia, 'If there is serious evidence that a person has perpetrated acts, delivered statements, exercised activities, or has been involved in contacts inside or outside the country, which are of a nature considered to be in violation of the internal or external security of the country, the religious and national interests of the State, its social or economic system; or considered to be an act of sedition that affects or can possibly affect the existing relations between the people and Government, between the various institutions of the State, between the classes of the people, or between those who work in corporations propagating subversive propaganda or disseminating atheistic principles; the Minister of Interior may order the arrest of that person, committing him to one of Bahrain's prisons, searching him, his residence and the place of his work, and may take any measure which he deems necessary for gathering evidence and completing investigations'. [*]

18. A joint statement published in a local weekly Bahraini newspaper Al-Adhwa'a ( 26 June 1975), noted that the government promised 'to review the decree at the latest by the end of July 1975'. They also noted that it was their understanding that the 'term 'review' bears the same meaning of abrogation of the of decree', and that in all cases 'the end of July 1975 is the latest date by which the decree shall be abrogated'. The Statement was signed by two religionists, Sheikh Abdul Amir al-Jamri and Abdulla al-Madani ; two independents, Rasool al-Jeshi and Ali Saleh al-Saleh; and, three leftists, Mohammed Salman Hammad, Mohsin Marhoon and Khalid Al-Thawadi. [*]

19. See his discussion on feudalism and state formation in Europe, (Poggi,1990: 34-51) [*]

20. Obvious exception from this generally indiscriminately practice are the bidoons. In Bahrain, most bidoons, a short for without [citizenship], are descendants of poor Persian, Afghan, and Baluchi migrants. There are Shia as well as Sunni Bidoons. I have not been able to find credible motives, except bigotry and their own powerlessness, for their exclusion from the realm of gratuities. [*]

21. The minister, Khalid bin Mohammed al-Khalifa, head of an important faction within the family, was following a 'tribal custom', when he publicly lashed one of his servants.. Leftist opposition took advantage of the incident which outraged many people. Leftist member of parliament threatened with a parliamentary reprimand. A totally different example is that of Ibrahim al-Khalifa, a member of the ruling family who was elected to parliament against the wishes of the ruling core. In spite of parliamentary immunity, he was imprisoned for a week as a punishment for his public support of striking workers. [*]

22. Until 1996, one third of cabinet posts were allocated to members of the ruling family, while the remaining was equally divided between the Sunni and the Shia. In one of the few such dramatic events, the Cabinet resigned on 25 June 1996. The new cabinet presented at least two sociologically and politically interesting changes. First, allocating half of the portfolios to the ruling family. The remaining eight portfolios were divided between Sunnni and Shia ministers. In addition to the prime ministry, the al-Khalifa ministries were those considered, for various reasons, as strategic ministries: Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior, Justice, Oil, Transport , and Housing. The second change was the appointment, for the first time, a descendant of one of tribes that participated in the 1783 conquest as a minister. The appointment as minister of education of Abdul Aziz al-Fadhel, an officer in the BDF, should be seen as part of a series of measures to include 'tribals' in the public spheres of political process. The remaining three Sunni ministries are held by persons of Howala extraction. [*]

23. These figures do not include security grants of the Gulf Co-operation Council. In 1982, GCC summit U$ 1 billion was pledged to upgrade Bahrain's defence and security forces. See, A.Khalaf, 'Labor Movements in Bahrain', Merip Reports, May 1985. Not included also are most of grants received in form of military and security hardware and training from United States, Britain, and Saudi Arabia.[*]

24. A leading member of the group that sought to organise a campaign for 'civil disobedience', Dr. Hashim al-Alawi, became the last non-religionist to die under torture.[*]

25. Prominent figures in the IES included Sheikh Issa Qasim and Sheikh Abdul Amir al-Jamri, the two clerics in religionist parliamentary bloc. While Sheikh Qasim went into self-exile to Qum, Iran, Sheikh al-Jamri continued social and religious activities. In 1988, following the arrest of his son and son of law, Sheikh al-Jamri was sacked from his senior position as a judge in at the Sharia court of the Ministry of Justice. Since its ban in 1986, the IES went underground, evolving later into Bahrain Freedom Movement, BFM. For a more detailed, and slightly different, account see Dabrowska, (1997, pp.101-102[*]

26. The 1992, he, was sponsored by Sheikh Abdul Amir al-Jamri ( a Shia cleric and a member of parliamentary religionist bloc), Dr. Abdul Latif al-Mahmood (a Sunni cleric and a university professor), Mr. Mohammed Jaber al-Sabah (a member of parliamentary leftist bloc), Sheikh Isa al-Jowder (a Sunni cleric), Mr Abdul Wahab Husain (a community leader) and Mr. Hamid Sangoor (a leading lawyer). Signed by some 300 other prominent individuals, the petition was handed to the Amir in November.[*]

27. These are two religionist organisations: The Islamic Liberation Front and Bahrain Freedom Movement; and two leftist organisations: the National Liberation Front and the Popular Front. The ILF has since distanced itself from the rest. [*]

28. I am not including in this account, the murder of Mr. Abdulla al-Madani, a journalist and an ex-MP, in 1976. The trial of the perpetrators revealed that they have acted on their own.[*]

29. One of the consequences of this is indicated by The US State Dept Report for human rights abuses in Bahrain for the year 1996 which includes the following: 'In 1996 the Government introduced a new university admissions policy that appears to favor Sunnis and others who pose no question of loyalty and security, rather than focusing only on professional experience and academic qualifications. This policy was accompanied by a major shake-up in the university's administration that removed many Shi'a from senior-level positions....' [*]


Abdulhadi Khalaf
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