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Asean Affairs  9 December  2015

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.  : Matthew 5:9  

By Swarup Roy  
AseanAffairs: The Voice of SE Asia  7 December
2015, Bangkok  
Additional research & compilation   by
John Jacob &
Mohamed Shafiudin  
Members of IBB GDC (India Business Bridge, God Das Council)  
Chairwoman of AseanAffairs & IBB :  Her Royal Excellency, Mom Luang Rajadarsri Jayankura of Thailand.  


For millennia all prophets have preached PEACE PEACE PEACE ! Without peace humanity will self destruct taking down everyone on every side of whichever conflict with whatever agenda of control are battling for supremacy. Victory will belong to death and destruction not to humanity.  
So where is PEACE and where are The Peacemakers and Peacekeepers?   

The never ending conflict in the Middle East
Pre 9/11 America’s hegemony was perceived to be absolute and countries in conflict called for America’s help. Then 9/11 changed all that when a bunch of fundamentalists with 3.95$ box cutters as their key tools struck at the heart of the mightiest empire the world had ever seen. Post 9/11 that hegemony was threatened and for the first time America felt vulnerable.  

The perpetrators of that act clearly showed the chinks in the Armour of America.  
America responded the only way it knew, with force and money. The lessons of the Vietnam War had long been forgotten. Thus the retaliation began with National security in mind against the Taliban in Afghanistan and finally muddling the Middle East dynamics with the second Iraq war. America had leveraged itself militarily with growing opposition at home and a failed military strategy in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Now the American soldier sits behind a game console inside an air-conditioned simulator somewhere in America and shoots down targets through drones across the world as the 2014 Hollywood movie ‘Good Kill’ has graphically depicted. No more body bags to bring home and upset the American people, the American administration has put the CIA in charge of its military assets and as everyone knows the C.I.A. has a license to kill and no need to report to anyone. They choose targets at will and eliminate them to keep America safe.

Then all of a sudden uprisings in the Middle East dubbed The Arab spring began a cyclone of confusion and conflict beginning in Egypt and spreading quickly across the middle east and finally getting stuck in Syria in the form of a complex web between the rebels, the state troops and other countries helping either sides like the Russians backing the Syrians.   
In the middle of this conflict Bahrain got a whiff of the Arab spring and it was quickly diffused. Peace a rare commodity especially in the middle east but Bahrain has enjoyed peace and stability for many decades on the foundation of the vision of its Ruler and the able leadership of its Prime Minister HRH Khalifah Bin-Salman Al Khalifah, the longest serving Prime Minister in the world, a key figure in the process towards peace.   

Prime Minister of Bahrain HRH Khalifah Bin-Salman Al Khalifah with HRE Mom  Luang Rajadarasri Jayakura of Thailand, 7 Dec 2015 at the Prime Minister’s office, Manama, Bahrain  
Bahrain: A Chronological Profile (see at the end of this article)   
Rise of the ‘Daesh’ or the ‘ISIS’ 
Most of the Arab nations do not approve of the ‘Daesh’ and its view of solving issues by violence, but the west has a false view of painting the troubled area of Middle East with

‘Daesh’ flavour. There seems to be an invisible wall of total mistrust and false conviction which is emerging from the actions of ‘Daesh’ which is what ‘Daesh’ wanted in the first place. For Daesh, all the ruling families of the Middle East are their enemies because they have strayed from the pure path of Islam as laid down by Prophet Mohammed.  The Daesh has declared that wherever their armies will enter the territory will automatically come under its jurisdiction and will have to follow the laws of it caliphate and swear allegiance to their caliph, the leader of Daesh. The turmoil that is set to follow in the region has barely begun if one imagines what will follow if the ‘Daesh’ achieves its stated goals. The recent mass massacres in Paris and California shows the reach and scale of destruction of lives that ‘Daesh’ can carry out at will.  Turning the people of the western world against Muslims serves ‘Daesh’’s agenda as it will lead to the western governments reducing support to its allies in the Middle East which ‘Daesh’ views as its enemies.   
The need of the hour is peace and peacemakers and peacekeepers.  No one will survive the bloodshed that war and conflict will bring to everyone on all sides.  
A lesson in peace from Thailand and SE Asia 

For a glimpse of how peace can be achieved in the modern world with modern way of governance/democracy and against conflicts and political divides, one can look at Thailand, a country of sixty five million people run by a constitutional monarchy and the world’s longest reigning monarch, HM King Bhumibhol Adulyadej. The King turned 85 just a few days ago on 5 December, also celebrated as Father’s day by sixty five million Thais. The country in the last decade has been roiled amid bitter political divides and yet the King is a solid uniting force for all his people.   

The Prophet guiding Thailand’s rulers for centuries is Lord Buddha and his teachings of Dhamma (The righteous way) and the Middle path has ensured that this South-East Asian country has not only been a haven of peace for centuries but the only country in Asia which avoided being colonised by any European powers. Such is the faith and effectiveness of the 2500 years old teachings of Buddha.  
Unlike the Middle East, where relations between Muslims, Jews and Christians operate along theological lines, the relations between Islam, Buddhism and Christianity in Southeast  
Asia operate around ethnic identity. Here an Indonesian and Malay are Muslim; a  
Thai/Laotian/Cambodian is a Buddhist; a Filipino is a Christian; and a Chinese is a Taoist/Confucianist or a Christian. Ethnoreligious identities also determine the social relations between religious majority and minority in each country.  
The contemporary Muslim populations of the Middle East and Southeast Asia commonly desire freedom, respect for human dignity, development and an end to corruption. Southeast Asian Muslim countries embarked on the path of democratization years ago, and are currently better off in terms of economic development in comparison with Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, etc. Still, Muslim Southeast Asia, like the Middle East, continues to face the perennial religious problem such as intra and interreligious tolerance, issues that have not been amicably resolved as they are subject to politics of religion, whereby the state controls religion for its own legitimization while at the same time allowing free rein to the radical groups to terrorize the minorities—along with the moderate and liberal Muslims—on the basis of their selfreligious authoritarianism. One reason for this development is the rise of religious puritanism of both local and imported origins. Therefore, while the post-Arab Spring Middle East has yet to resolve these issues, the situation in Muslim Southeast Asia democracies illustrates the social results if these problems are not addressed. Especially when there appears to be a glut of politicians and a dearth of statesmen.  
Malaysia and Indonesia are success stories in terms of creating a functioning democracy and encouraging economic development. They offer a model worthy of emulation for the "Arab Spring". And in turn, the Arab Spring offers a post-Islamist model of polity for the Southeast Asian Muslims, one that transcends Islamism as a political ideology and is moving toward a model in which religiosity, rights and freedoms co-exist in a balanced way; where the state is not a religious police force and there is space for multiple political discourses.  
Contemporary Arabs, Indonesians and Malaysians face the need to develop civil societies that respect religious pluralism and human dignity—an important principle in the Qur'an: "We have indeed conferred dignity on the children of Adam" (17:70). Yet, there is growing fear among the Southeast Asian non-Muslims concerning the rise of religious intolerance in Indonesia and Malaysia.  
The most pertinent issue confronting the Muslim world today is not about the separation or non-separation of religion and politics, but about balancing the spiritual and legal aspects of the religion. Moving away from the practice of religion which sees it merely as a law and politics centered around the hudud code, this new process of democratization will enable the emergence of a balanced spirituality in the interests of democracy, freedom, development, and human dignity. The pluralist Arab Spring is making such space available for the Muslim world, which should not go to waste.  
Politics in the Muslim world will, at best, be semi-secular, as seen in Southeast Asian and African countries. The Arab Spring demonstrates that the people have not rejected religion, but they have rejected religious leadership. Call it post-Islamism or Trans-Islamic, Arab Spring countries are embarking on a path toward democracy.  
The Ultimate Question?


The AseanAffairs Save Our Planet conference series. Saving the planet is saving our souls 

Can the rulers of the Arab countries be the peacemakers and be called children of God. This is the question of our times. A question of survival for them, their people and for all humanity. Islam Salaam (Islam is Peace), will this be the definition that will be remembered or will Daesh (‘Daesh’) define it on behalf of  the one billion of Muslims the definition of Islam.  

Bahrain profile - Timeline  

1913 - Britain and the Ottoman government sign a treaty recognising the independence of Bahrain but the country remains under British administration.


Manama is a major port city, commercial centreLies on the north-east tip of Bahrain island 
  • Declared a free port in 1958 
  • Population: 135,000 
1931 - The Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco), a subsidiary of the Standard Oil Company of

California (Socal), discovers oil at Jabal al-Dukhan and production begins the following year. 1939 - Britain decides that the Hawar Islands which lie in the Gulf of Bahrain between Bahrain and Qatar belong to Bahrain not Qatar. 
1961 - Sheikh Isa Bin-Salman Al Khalifah becomes ruler of Bahrain. 

Britain moves bases 

  1. - Britain moves its main regional naval base from Aden to Bahrain. 
  2. - Britain announces it will close its bases east of Suez by 1971. 
1970 - The Administrative Council becomes a 12-member Council of State, headed by a president, the ruler's brother. 
1970 May - Iran renounces its claim to sovereignty over Bahrain after a United Nations report shows that Bahrainis want to remain independent.  


1971 - Bahrain declares independence and signs a new treaty of friendship with Britain. Sheikh Isa becomes the first Emir and the Council of State becomes a cabinet. 
1971 - Bahrain gains formal independence from Britain. 

  1. - Bahrain and the US sign an agreement which permits the US to rent naval and military facilities. 
  2. December - Elections are held for a Constituent Assembly. Only Bahraini males over 20 can vote. 
  3. December - After the constitution comes into force on 6 December, elections are held on 7 December for a National Assembly, an advisory legislative body, with 44 members (14 cabinet members and 30 elected by male voters) .

Assembly dissolved

1975 August - Following claims by prime minister Sheikh Khalifah Bin-Salman Al Khalifah that the National Assembly is impeding the work of the government, the Emir dissolves the assembly and rules by decree. 
1981 May - Bahrain joins the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, more usually known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which also includes Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 
1981 December - Seventy-three people, said to be members of the Tehran-based Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, headed by Iranian cleric, Hojjat ol-Eslam Hadi al-Mudarrisi, are arrested and accused of conspiring to overthrow the government on 16 December, Bahrain's National Day. 1986 - In April, Qatari troops occupy Fasht al-Dibal Island but withdraw in June after mediation by Saudi Arabia. 
1986 November - Opening of the King Fahd causeway which links Bahrain to the mainland of Saudi Arabia. 

Operation Desert Storm 

1991 January/February - As part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Peninsula Shield Force,
Bahrain participates in the coalition "Operation Desert Storm" against Iraq (the Gulf War) 1991 July - Qatar takes its territorial claim to the Hawar Islands, Fasht al-Dibal and Qitat Jaradah before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague but Bahrain rejects the claims. 

Defence agreement with US 

  1. October - Bahrain signs a defence cooperation agreement with the United States providing for port facilities and joint military exercises. 
  2. December - The establishment of a 30-member Consultative Council, appointed by the emir for a four-year term. 
  1. December - Demonstrations follow the arrest on 5 December of Shia cleric, Sheikh Ali Salman, who calls for the restoration of the National Assembly and criticises the ruling family. 
  2. January - Sheikh Ali Salman is deported and seeks asylum in Britain. 
1995 February - Bahrain rejects International Court of Justice (ICJ) mediation in its dispute with Qatar. 
1995 June - After a reshuffle, the cabinet includes five Shia ministers. 

  1. September - A Shia cleric, Sheikh Abd-al-Amir al-Jamri, arrested in April, is released from prison. 
  2. January/February - After bomb explosions in Manama's business quarter, Al-Jamri is arrested again on 18 January. A Sunni lawyer and poet, Ahmad al-Shamlan, is also detained on 8 February, but released in April. 

'Coup plot' uncovered 

1996 June - The government says it has uncovered a coup plot by an Iranian-backed group, 
Hezbollah-Bahrain. Bahrain recalls its ambassador to Iran and downgrades its representation to charge d'affaires level. 
1996 September - The Consultative Council members are increased from 30 to 40.  Pro-democracy cleric  

Abdul Amir al-Jamri led protests demanding return of parliament 

Bahrain pro-democracy cleric dies

  1. April - Bahrain acquires sole ownership of Bapco. 
  2. February - Sheikh Khalid Bin-Muhammad Bin-Salman Al Khalifah replaces British citizen, Ian Henderson, as Director of the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS). 
  1. December - Bahrain provides military facilities for "Operation Desert Fox", the US and UK bombing campaign against Iraq. 
  2. March - The emir, Sheikh Isa, dies and is succeeded by his eldest son, Sheikh Hamad. On March 9, Sheikh Hamad's son, Sheikh Salman, becomes Crown Prince. 
1999 July - Sheikh Abd-al-Amir al-Jamri is sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment but is pardoned by the new Emir. 
  1. December - The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin-Khalifah Al Thani, visits. Both countries establish committee to settle territorial disputes.

  1. September - Emir appoints for the first time non-Muslims and women to the Consultative Council, including four women - one of whom is a Christian - and a Jewish businessman. 

Political reform 

2001 February - Referendum on political reform; Bahrainis overwhelmingly back proposals under which Bahrain would become constitutional monarchy with elected lower chamber of parliament and independent judiciary. 
  1. November - Al-Wefaq opposition movement founded. 
  2. February - Bahrain turns itself into a constitutional monarchy and allows women to stand for office in a package of reforms. 
2002 May - Local elections are held, Bahrain's first poll for almost 30 years. For the first time women vote and stand as candidates, but fail to win a seat. 
  1. October - Parliamentary elections held, the first for nearly 30 years. Authorities say the turnout was more than 50% despite a call by Islamists for a boycott. 
  2. May - Thousands of victims of alleged torture petition king to cancel law which prevents them from suing suspected torturers. 
  3. April - Nada Haffadh is made health minister - the first woman to head a government ministry. 2004 May - Protests in Manama against fighting in the Iraqi holy cities of Najaf, Karbala. The king sacks the interior minister after police try to prevent the protest. 

Trade deal 

  1. September - Bahrain and US sign free trade pact; Saudi Arabia condemns the move, saying it hinders regional economic integration. 
  2. March-June - Thousands of protest marchers demand a fully-elected parliament.  
  3. January - US President George W Bush signs a bill to enact the 2004 US-Bahrain free-trade agreement after it is approved by the US Congress. 
2006 March - A pleasure boat capsizes off the Bahrain coast, claiming the lives of 58 passengers. 2006 November - The Shia opposition wins 40% of the vote in a general election. A Shia Muslim, Jawad bin Salem al-Oraied, is named as a deputy prime minister.  2007 September - Thousands of illegal foreign workers rush to take advantage of a governmentsanctioned amnesty. 2011 protests  
The 2011 pro-democracy protests were brutally suppressed by the kingdom's security forces  

Clampdown divides kingdom Bahrain awaits key unrest report

2008 May - A Jewish woman, Houda Nonoo, is appointed Bahrain's ambassador to the USA. She is believed to be the Arab world's first Jewish ambassador. 
  1. December - Authorities arrest several people who allegedly planned to detonate homemade bombs during Bahrain's national celebrations. 
  2. April - King pardons more than 170 prisoners charged with endangering national security, including 35 Shias being tried on charges of trying to overthrow the state. 
  3. September - 20 Shia opposition leaders - accused of plotting to overthrow monarchy by promoting violent protests and sabotage - arrested in run-up to elections. 
2010 October - Parliamentary elections. Main Shia opposition group, Islamic National Accord Association, makes a slender gain. 


Rights activist Nabeel Rajab speaking to the media during the F1 Grand prix in Bahrain  

2011 February - Thousands of protesters gather in Manama, inspired by popular revolts that toppled rulers in Tunisia and Egypt. A security crackdown results in the death of several protestors. 2011 March - Saudi troops are called in following further unrest. Authorities declare martial law and clamp down hard on pro-democracy activists. Protests continue, despite ban on demonstrations. 
Focal point of demonstrations - the Pearl monument - is demolished. 
2011 April - Government moves to ban two main political parties which represent the Shia majority. 2011 September - Low turn-out for by-elections to replace MPs from the Shia opposition who quit parliament objecting to the violent crackdown on demonstrators. 
  1. November - Government concedes that "excessive force" was used by security forces in Bahrain against pro-democracy protesters. 
  2. February - Police thwart opposition attempts to protest on the anniversary of the crackdown on last year's mass demonstration on the site of the demolished Pearl square. Protests nonetheless resume through the spring. 
Jailed activist Prominent activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja was jailed for life in 2011  

Profile: Abdulhadi al-Khawaja

2012 April - The controversial Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix takes place amid anti-government protests. 
2012 May - Leading opposition activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja ends a three-month hunger strike. A military court jailed him for life in June 2011 for "plotting against the state". 
2012 June - Appeals court partially overturns long jail sentences on 20 medics for taking part in antigovernment protests. Nine are acquitted, and the rest were given much shorter sentences. 2012 August - Rights activist Nabeel Rajab is jailed for three years for taking part in "illegal gatherings". Sporadic anti-monarchy protests continue. 
  1. October - Protesters clash with riot police in Manama at funeral of Ali Ahmed Mushaima, who died in prison after being jailed for taking part in pro-democracy demonstrations. The authorities indefinitely ban all protests and gatherings. 
  2. February - National dialogue talks begin in effort to end unrest. 
2013 March - King Hamad appoints his son, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, as deputy prime minister. The Crown Prince is widely viewed as a moderate who previously occupied an influential position until he was sidelined by hardliners in the ruling family after the 2011 clampdown on unrest. 
2013 April - Several weeks of unrest involving opponents of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, who allege the event is used by the government to gloss over its poor human rights record. 
  1. September - Bahrain's main Shia opposition groups pull out of talks with the government in protest at the arrest of a leading member of Wefaq, the main Shia opposition society. 
  2. January - The government suspends deadlocked reconciliation talks with the Shia opposition. 2014 May - Leading rights activist Nabeel Rajab is released after two years in prison; he urges the government and the opposition to engage in dialogue. 
2014 July - Bomb blast kills police officer, the latest in a series of attacks on security forces. 
2014 October - Main Shia opposition group Al-Wefaq banned for three months. 
2014 November - Parliamentary elections, boycotted and dismissed by the Shia opposition as a farce. 2014 March - Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE temporarily withdraw their ambassadors from Qatar after alleging that it has been meddling in their internal affairs. 

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