Arab Spring: An interview with Bahrain's foreign minister.

Opinions about events beyond our borders.
June 9 2011 4:00 PM

"The Crackdown Was Not a Mistake"

An interview with Bahrain's foreign minister.

(Continued from Page 1)

How do you institutionalize second-class citizenship?

L.W.: They see less employment, less—

Yes, that's true. But whether they have been treated as second-class—no. Maybe some areas did not get development as much as the capital or other major cities, but yes, some of their villages do need more help, more housing, more projects and infrastructure, and that will be taken care of. ... The whole Gulf Cooperation Council [is] helping Bahrain and Oman with $10 billion over 10 years. That should ease up a lot of things for us.

We have to be very careful with pitching the people of Bahrain as majority against minority. This only happened right after the Iranian revolution and the jihad in Afghanistan, when the Sunni-Shiite polarization really started to take hold. Then came the issue of Iraq after the fall of the dictator, Saddam Hussein. It didn't help the situation between Sunnis and Shiites in the region. In the '60s and '70s, intermarriages between Sunnis and Shiites were so high.

L.W.: So the parliament will have more powers?

Yes, there is no doubt. That's the way parliaments develop.

L.W.: Human Rights Watch reports that there are still arrests of protesters.

The number of people arrested has gone down considerably.

L.W.: Are you going to release those who are in jail?

At one point the total number of arrested people in Bahrain peaked at around 1,100. That went down considerably, to around 400-something.

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L.W.: Are you concerned about the so-called forces of darkness, that the people who are against the dialogue can sabotage it?

Yes, I am concerned that there are forces of darkness who don't want this dialogue to succeed. They want to see Bahrain fall into anarchy.

L.W.: Are those forces in the royal family? 

No, not in the royal family, but they are out there.

L.W.: Are you referring to Iran?

Yes, I am referring to Iran being supportive of many extremist groups that held the country hostage and eventually led to the state of [threats to] national safety. It was unprecedented how Iran sustained a campaign against Bahrain.

L.W.: What do you think of the trial of Hosni Mubarak?

Anyone from the Gulf will never forget President Hosni Mubarak and his stance for the liberation of Kuwait back in 1990. He led the Arab world into supporting Kuwait and to that historic vote in the Arab League. Second, in Bahrain we will never forget President Mubarak's stance when Iran claimed Bahrain to be part of Iran two or three years ago. He was the first Arab leader to fly to Bahrain in solidarity.

For the Egyptian people, the matter of who is president is a purely Egyptian matter. But when it comes to the treatment of Hosni Mubarak, we feel that he deserves better.

L.W.: Did you express your views to the Egyptians?

A lot of countries in the Gulf did express that view to the Egyptians. What worries me in Egypt is that whatever direction it takes, I hope it doesn't veer from the direction and line drawn by the late President Anwar Sadat.

L.W.: What do you think of Egypt's future?

Nothing is clear yet; it could go any way. I hope Egypt continues to be in the path of peace. We have differences with Israel, [but] we shouldn't lose the peace agreement. If Egypt chooses to take a path of confrontation, then the whole Arab world will be on that path. Even if we don't like whoever is in government in Israel, at the end of the day, it is a country that will produce reasonable partners that we can work with in the future.

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