First, though, some preliminaries. The al-Wifaq press conference starring Khalil al-Marzuq, who calls the dialogue "not serious" but insists the society still has not made up its mind about participation:
Sh. 'Isa Qasim, on the other hand, seems to have a pretty good idea. Indeed, the title of the sermon itself is "A Dialogue that Announces Its Own Failure." In it, inter alia, he asks, "Is it required of us to enter dialogue when we are wronged, oppressed and insulted while you [the government] are laughing?" Touché.
Nonetheless, the government has now extended until Sunday the deadline for dialogue "submissions of topics," conveniently (and coincidentally, I'm sure) giving al-Wifaq a few more days to arrive at a final answer.
Finally, the following are some good links from the past days that are not simply about the sentences of the opposition leaders.
- "Hard-line Sunni voice gains audience in Bahrain" - an AP article about the growing (and once-unlikely) influence of Sh. 'Abd al-Latif Al Mahmud.
- "Becoming the Enemy" - U.S. Iran expert Gary Sick compares Bahrain's 2011 to Iran's 2009 post-election crackdown.
- "Washington's Spies Are in Manama Prior to the Dialogue" - You guessed it: our friend Yusif Al Bin Khalil is back at it again, this time asking "Has Washington sent its spies to Manama before the dialogue? Or is there right now a secret American delegation moving among the cities and villages of Bahrain? I don't have a clear answer to this question, but ..." let's see if I can write an entire article speculating about it!
- "Bahrain and the Option of Partition" - If you answered Al Bin Khalil again you are right. I really need to keep more up to date on this guy's articles. (And, if this Tweet by Susan al-Sha'ir is correct, it may soon be easier. She says that Al-Watan is preparing to launch its own English-language website. One can only hope!) Anyway, here Al Bin Khalil raises the issue of partitioning Bahrain, a country 2.5 times the size of Washington, D.C., into Sunni and Shi'i enclaves. Yet, if you take a look at my ethnic map of Bahrain, you'll see that someone clearly has beaten him to it:
- "Bahrain Doesn't Want Stability" - A piece in Foreign Policy whose title does a good job of explaining itself.
- Finally, there is news of an escalation in the Bahrain media war. Al-Ayam is reporting that Bahrain will soon appoint three media coordinators to the U.S., Britain, and Egypt, at a reported cost of 5 million dinars (a bit more than $13 million). This has been deemed by the government considerably less expensive than the alternative, which is to stop giving foreign media reasons to run negative stories about it in the first place.
After the Iranians.. Came Washington's Role"; "The Strategic Options for Sunnis Only!"; and "The Shi'a are the Democrats; the Sunna the Monarchists!"
An Illustrated Guide to Bahrain's February 14 Uprising
Once upon a time, the Kingdom of Bahrain lived in social and political harmony under the tender leadership of the Al Khalifa triumvirate,
who spent their days riding horses,
and hanging out with their friends,
and shooting things.
And the people were happy.
But the blood-spewing ghost of Ayatollah Sistani was not happy!
And that snake-charmer Ayatollah Khamenei was not happy!
And Devil Obama was not happy!
And when the ghost of Ayatollah Sistani, the snake-charming Ayatollah Khamenei, and Devil Obama are not happy, then no one shall be happy!
So they decided to send their minions down to wreak havoc in the harmonious Kingdom of Bahrain.
First, there was Hasan al-Musheimi'.
And then Sh. 'Abd al-Wahhab Hussein.
And then there was former al-Asalah MP 'Isa Abu al-Fath holding a photo of Saddam Hussein. Wait, what?
Then, finally, there was that Israeli-Iranian-American Sh. 'Isa Qasim, the worst and most contradictorily-affiliated of them all.
And, lo, did these minions wreak their havoc!, taking hostage the most prized of all Bahrain's 750 roundabouts and turning it into a place of filth and temporary marriage in their filthy Shi'i way!
Who could put an end to this madness and sexual ambiguity? Was it 'Isa Abu al-Fath and the reincarnated spirit of Saddam Hussein? NO! It was Bahrain's friends to the West.. and, I guess, South.. the Arabians from the land of Saudi.
Those shit-kicking bad-asses were always ready to kick some Shi'i butt, including their king, also ever ready to strike a pose.
But who else was prepared to stand up to the Iranian minions at the Pearl Roundabout? The 450,000-strong National Unity Gathering!
And so the Al Khalifa and the Arabians from the land of Saudi mustered the troops and inspected their steel horses
and ran the Iranians out of town!
And so too did the National Unity Gathering act as a wave stabilizing the ship of Bahrain, inundated by mischief perpetrated by "the deviant sect!"
But, alas, someone was still not happy. It was devil Obama, who dared question the tactics employed by Bahrain and the Arabians from the land of Saudi! He would even sneak into the country under their noses to commiserate with his fellow Shi'is at the wailing wall in Sitra,
and to use his skills as a community organizer to oversee 'Ashura' processions.
How should the Bahraini Arabians deal with such false friends (who, incidentally, had already pissed off the Arabians from the land of Saudi)? Why, with a swift slap to the face of course!
But how to deal with the trouble-makers who brought Bahrain thus to the brink? Should they be pardoned? NO!
Should they be sent back to Iran?
The Bahraini Arabians were stumped.
But then their friends from the land of Saudi Arabia reminded them that under Bahrain's 2006 counter-terrorism law anyone can be imprisoned so long as he is a member of a terrorist organization clearly delineated by a flow chart. The Ministry of Information got to work.
Yet still one small problem remained: how to earn back the favor of all those who suffered over the past weeks and months (Oh, I didn't mention that? Yea--it turns out that everyone was fired from work and/or arrested and/or knows someone who was arrested or fired.)
The Bahraini Arabians were stumped once again. But then someone remembered about the flow charts! And dialogue! "People love dialogue!" someone said. "Oh, right! I've heard that too!" said another.
And so they designed the bestest dialogue flow chart this side of the Mississip. Surely no one could stay mad if a flow chart told them not to be!