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Is Bahrain Opposition Still in ‘Fighting Mode’?

The consistent and persistent rallies – authorized and unauthorized – held by the opposition groups in Bahrain are becoming a menace. Far from proving any point the daily rounds of road blockades, garbage-skip fires, flinging of Molotov cocktails, use of ‘iron arrows’ against security forces and indiscriminate stoning have become a headache for the citizens as well the expatriate residents of the Shia-majority villages, not far from the business district in the tiny island state.

One is unable to make sense of these disturbing activities because the handlers, instigators and political masters of these vandals and lumpen elements have decided to remain silent; one does not get to hear any statement from them as to what is the logic and purpose of indulging in these unprovoked activities.

And they seem to be least bothered by the fact that such actions are hurting the business and trading community, the banking sector, the building and infrastructure sector, the industrial sector, the tourism sector and the confidence of the expatriate community. As if the country does not belong to them and therefore its interests are none of their concern.

Surprisingly, these disturbing developments come at a time when the government is trying its best to create an atmosphere of communal harmony, bring the business sector back on an even keel, go forward to create more jobs and housing, improve infrastructure and in the process put the past behind and ensure that all the recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report are implemented.

Facts on these scores speak for themselves. Those who lost jobs in the public sector on account of taking part in anti-government activities have largely been taken back, those who lost them in the private sector are getting help from the government which has told their companies to take them back, those given sentences by the National Safety Court earlier this year are going to have their sentences reviewed and a committee has been formed for the purpose, a large number of people in detention on various grounds associated with the disturbances have been freed, and the new public security chief has announced plans to recruit 500 officers from all sections of society (implying that those hired would include persons from the Shia community). The last should deprive the opposition mouthpieces of the argument that the government does not hire Shias in the security forces.

And to top it all, plans are on foot to implement a variety of schemes and launch a number of projects to spend the $10 billion allocated to Bahrain out of the GCC funds last year in the wake of the disturbances, a move which should further improve the employment situation and general well-being of the citizens.

One is simply baffled that in view of so many concessions granted by the country’s leaders and the government to those rendering a number of areas in the Kingdom out of bounds for the people at large day in and day out what more should the power-that-be do to further mollify them. The most intriguing part of this daily routine is that their leaders would not even speak up to spell out as to what exactly do they want. All one hears in those areas as the evening approaches and the ‘action’ begins is chants against the government. But to what purpose?

The need of the hour, with so much forgiven, so much given, so much promised and so much at stake is for everyone irrespective of which community he comes from to join the effort to build the nation and take it to the heights where it rightfully belongs. Rancour has been on both sides but when one side reaches out it severs no one’s purpose for the other side to sit back and sulk. Let there be talks not futile chants.

Brij Sharma is an Indian journalist and editor based in Bahrain. Brij tells us the interesting stories we don’t usually hear from the middle east country.

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