A week in the Bahrain Parliament: 19 – 25 Feb 2015

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The three main items of business facing elected parliamentarians this week concerned amendments to the legal framework governing the Defence Forces; measures rejected by the Shura Council for giving preferential treatment to Bahraini workers; and updates on the housing issue.

 

Houses of Parliament clash over Bahraini recruitment bill

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Secret documents which have been leaked online from a number of foreign intelligence agencies throw light on clandestine Iranian activity overseas. This material, which is gradually being published by the Guardian and Al-Jazeera, particularly shows worrying indications of a large amount of Iranian interference in African nations.

Iran appears to regard Africa as a potential means of avoiding sanctions; as a lucrative market for selling arms to militant groups; and as a fertile region for the “creation of a new international extremist network”.

Reports note Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s emphasis on enhancing “Iran’s relations with Islamist movements and networks with the capacity of destabilizing those countries closely aligned with the USA and its allies”.

A secret report by the South African State Security Agency examines how Iranian Embassies abroad are used as a base for coordinating activities through various front organizations (mosques, cultural centres, “carpet businesses”, bonyads, student organizations etc).

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Obama: “We are not at war with Islam”

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Among Western leaders President Obama has arguably gone the furthest in distancing the terrorist atrocities committed by ISIS, from the values and beliefs of the vast majority of Muslims. “The terrorists do not speak for over a billion Muslims,” Obama said in an 18 February speech on counter-terrorism.

President Obama added: "They propagate the notion that America, and the West generally, is at war with Islam. That is how they recruit, that's how they radicalize young people... It is a lie... We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam."

Obama’s comments mirror sentiments expressed this week in an article in the Telegraph by Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa. Prince Salman said: “Terrorism is not an ideology; we are not merely fighting terrorists, we are fighting theocrats. I use the term ‘theocrats’ as the current war is not against Islam… It is the ideology that must be combated and defeated. In the process, we can replace the term ‘war on terror’ and focus on the real threat, which is the rise of these evil fascist theocracies.”

Both Obama and Prince Salman go out of their way to demonstrate how ISIS represents the very opposite of what most Muslims stand for. By associating ISIS with Islam we are buying into their propaganda and giving them greater legitimacy. 

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Action against corruption: A week in the Bahrain Parliament

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12 – 18 Feb 2015

With the Financial Committee readying its response to the Financial Audit Bureau’s report into corruption and mismanagement; new measures against officials under investigation for impropriety indicates a growing readiness among MPs to take tough action against those accused of corruption.

New health fees imposed on expat workers continue to be a contentious issue between the Government and MPs. In a Parliament where 90% of representatives are independents, there are some indicators of political blocs beginning to coalesce.

Unpaid leave for officials under investigation

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