THE year 2020 refuses to give us any glimmer of joy … it began sadly with the passing away of Sultan Qaboos bin Said – blessed by the Lord with mercy – on Jan 10. The ninth month of the year ended with bereavement for Kuwait, the Gulf region, the Arab world and even the world because of the passing away of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah – May God rest his soul.
Now the eleventh month of this year has plunged us into the absence of the veteran statesman, longstanding and talented politician, and Bahrain’s Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. Perhaps we should call this year “the year of sadness and pain” especially with the major pandemic that has hit the world and continues to spread. The Gulf region has lost three of its historical leaders, each of who left a mark that illuminates the pages of contemporary history.
At a very young age, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman entered the arena of public life through his discipleship at the hands of his father – the ruler of Bahrain Sheikh Salman bin Hamad – and his volatility in positions until he assumed the premiership in 1970, about a year before that country’s independence, to keep pace with the great events that it went through.
He started with working on establishing modern institutions, especially educational institutions, in which he saw the true destination of building a strong state based on leadership in the intellectual movement, and the generalization of education for a person capable of facing the most difﬁcult circumstances.
On another line, the existential challenge that was represented in the declaration of the Shah of Iran in 1971 was his greed for the Kingdom and his endeavor to annex it, but the Bahrainis rallied around their leadership and confronted the Iranian ambitions with one man’s heart. It is a ﬁle that will continue to haunt the region, because Persian expansionist foreign policy has not changed the system from Shah to Mullah regimes.
We all remember how the Bahraini leadership confronted the chaotic movement unleashed by the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian intelligence through its network of hired gangs, acts of violence, and the occupation of the so-called “the Pearl Roundabout” in Manama. At that time, the agents’ fragments were deluded in their ability to subdue this steadfast Gulf fortress. It was a confrontation with the support of the “Peninsula Shield” forces as well as the security forces.
The great late king, just like all the Gulf leaders, was aware that the aim behind causing unrest in Bahrain was to destabilize the Gulf region as a whole, as the Persian expansion system tried to open a niche in the wall of confrontation to inﬁltrate into the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, something that Manama confronted quickly.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman, by the virtue of his position as the Prime Minister, along with King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, managed to ﬁght the battle with wisdom and insight, and Bahrain was able to overcome this difﬁcult test with great success.
In a parallel line, the veteran statesman worked to re-stimulate energy in economic projects and restore life to normal, even during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bahrain was a pioneer in developing effective plans that spared many losses for it.
Today it is returning to normal with a reduced rate of COVID-19 infections and the reopening of the country. May Allah have mercy on this friend of Kuwait who was keen to visit her every year during the blessed month of Ramadan.
This man has a great position in the hearts of Kuwaitis, as well as all Gulf people and leaders. Throughout his life, he was keen to extend bridges of cooperation and love between Bahrain and the rest of its Gulf Arab sister states, just as is the case with the King Fahd Bridge, which linked it with the Kingdom to Saudi Arabia, and across it with all the Gulf states by land.
Today, we are missing a friend and an open-minded man … one of the leaders who will be immortalized in history for his great achievements attained through wisdom and perseverance and by defying difﬁculties … We will miss the man of wisdom and state, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman – May Allah have mercy on him.
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By Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times