"Emir of Pardons" and "King of Repression"

2023-12-20 - 1:56 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): On December 16, 2023, the Emir of the State of Kuwait, Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, succumbed to illness, concluding a brief reign spanning less than three years. Despite its brevity, his departure marked the end of a legacy and a positive reputation, shaped in part by his issuance of significant "pardon decrees," destined to be remembered as a hallmark of his short-lived rule.

Assuming power in late 2020 following his brother Sabah Al-Ahmad's demise, Nawaf Al-Ahmad dedicated himself to advancing the political reconciliation agenda, albeit at a measured pace. Approximately a year into his tenure, the Emir fostered unity among various segments of Kuwaiti society by issuing a comprehensive Emiri pardon. This pardon extended clemency to numerous activists and dissidents, prominently including former opposition leader Musallam Al-Barrak and associates residing in Turkey.

The pardon also encompassed a majority of Shia activists charged in the "Al-Abdali cell" case, notably Sheikh Hussein Al-Maatouk, a prominent Shia figure residing in the Islamic Republic of Iran. While not all were included in the initial Emiri pardon, it set the stage for a subsequent broad amnesty in late November. This second pardon encompassed activists and social media figures residing abroad, such as Abdulhamid Dashti and Saqr Al-Hashash, who had received lengthy prison sentences, in addition to those imprisoned for various reasons, most notably the main defendant in the "Al-Abdali cell" case, who was sentenced to life imprisonment. Additionally, decisions were made to reinstate citizenship for individuals whose citizenship had been revoked for political reasons approximately a decade ago.

Tragically, a mere two weeks following the last Emiri pardon, Nawaf Al-Ahmad passed away, earning the posthumous title of the "Emir of Pardons." His short-lived rule will be remembered for its amnesty decrees that symbolically turned the page on the past, initiating a new era of political engagement for the nation.

In contrast, the King of Bahrain, reigning for nearly a quarter-century, commenced his rule with a sweeping amnesty, aimed at erasing the memory of his father's oppressive regime. A national charter, initially embraced by the majority, was abruptly overturned just a year later. Since 2002, Bahrain has been mired in perpetual political crises between the government and the opposition.

A decade after the initial amnesty, public discontent erupted into a widespread revolt against the monarchy, met with a harsh response involving tanks, the military, and the Peninsula Shield. Instead of addressing the populace's grievances, the king's actions led to dozens of casualties and the imprisonment of thousands.

Fast forward 12 years from that fateful popular uprising with the pain and suffering that accompanied it, and the King appears disinclined to take conciliatory measures or pave the way for reconciliation. On the contrary, the security apparatus has tightened its grip, extending beyond local political issues to include unrelated matters, such as dozens of arrests linked to anti-Israel marches following the onset of the war on Gaza.

Although the King personally facilitated the restoration of relations with Qatar despite Doha's restraint, recently participating in the Gulf summit and meeting with Emir Tamim bin Hamad, positive strides remain elusive in the case of Sheikh Ali Salman, serving a life sentence on charges of "spying for Qatar."

As of now, it appears that Hamad bin Isa favors a legacy akin to his father's, departing amidst public resentment, rather than following in the footsteps of Nawaf Al-Ahmad, who left this world amid widespread prayers.

Hamad's rule mirrors that of his father - marked by bloodshed and repression - with the populace hoping for a change that will heal their wounds and end their suffering from his successor.

Arabic Version