A positive step in Bahrain

Prince Salman, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, has taken over negotiation following the failure of his father King Hamad’s repressive military action. The Prince has now ordered the army to leave Manama. Control will now be handed back to the police. The opposition is continuing to say that it will not negotiate with the government until there are guarantees that protesters will not be attacked again. The first protesters have already returned to the Pearl Roundabout, which has become a symbolic place for them.

Prince Salman went on national television and said: “We had a ray of hope today and I am grateful to all the wise and rational men who called for and responded to the call for calm, security and national cohesion. We begin now a new phase, a phase in which we will discuss all our issues sincerely and honestly. I would like to convey the message that calm is required at this time so that all parties can put forward their views and issues in a responsible and productive way. I stress once more that our duty is to preserve security and stability to ensure that there is no sedition and that the situation does not get worse. The more we can assert calm as our way forward, the nearer we can get to our goal. I hope that we can join hands, work together and communicate with all political forces in the country.”

37 thoughts on “A positive step in Bahrain

  1. That may be positive for the country, although it is far too little, too late. In regards to the Grand Prix, no responsible sports governor would allow such a major event to take place after what has happened. I wonder if F1 is governed by responsible, thinking people…

  2. Is this the beginning or the end?
    From my window just down the road from Salmaniya the thud of tear gas rounds has been replaced by cheers, horns and ambulance sirens. But we’re hearing that the tanks have now turned round and are heading back.

    Surprise if the place is safe for visitors in time for the race. And what about F1 reputation? The race is very much the project of the Crown Prince, big race fan who is now supposed to be controlling the military and the police. Oh, and owns big chunk of McLaren of course.

    If the race takes place it is likely to be a a major F1 PR disaster. Remember the old fotos of the 70s argentinian grands prix with armed soldiers in the background.

    1. NBP,

      Thanks for that. The Iranian propaganda machine has been very busy in recent days… so it has been very hard to know what is right and what is not right.

  3. This is the 1st time such thing happen to Bahrain & it is caused via external entities in which they want Bahrain to burn in its own flames, Bahraini people always lived in harmony and who ever visited our country know how the people are.

    The whole country is fine & we are all bonded together as bahraini’s & the international media is adding more fuel to the fire … this is what happen and it serves the external entities agenda’s

    i would like to ask everyone who truly know Bahrain & the bahraini people things will clam down & Bahrain is back to normal

    Bahrain is living in bad times which dont need more negative attention in order for things to be back to normal.

    Ahmed Aldoseri

  4. Speaking of propaganda machines…

    I wonder how much of the turnabout is caused by the fact they have an international sport coming to the in a few weeks, and the realisation that it would look really bad if that circus basically said “we can’t come to your country, we’re afraid one of us will be killed.”.

  5. James Allen made the point that the race may well be short of local medical personel, as they may be working overtime in the Bahrain hospitals. Even if the troubles are at an end, the hospitals may well be full of those who’ve suffered at the hands of the heavy handed police and army.

  6. They can’t seriously go ahead with the race. Not sure I’ll watch if they do.

    We’ve had self immolation in other parts of the Mid East the last few weeks – I can’t think of a more attention grabbing “protest” than going splat on the front of a decadent Western Ferrari in front of tens of millions of live TV viewers…

  7. Jonno – to add to your last sentence… hospitals may well be full of those doctors and nurses who’ve suffered at the hands of the heavy handed police and army…

  8. I am very glad to hear, that there is hope the Bahraini government is turning to allow reason and discussion instead of violence.
    Thanks NBP for giving us some new from your hotel room.

    As for the GP, I seriously doubt 1 or 2 weeks to be a reasonable time to calm the situation down enough for it to take place in the best case. Then again, hard to say, what will happen …

  9. Even if things do calm down how can any part of F1 go anywhere near or be associated with a country that orders its army to shoot dead unarmed peaceful protesters?

  10. As someone noted, if the Foreign Office maintains its warning against anything but “essential” travel – whatever that may be construed to be – insurance cover will not be valid. That must make taking the F1 circus to Bahrain simply not viable.

  11. @Luke – let’s leave China out of this.

    They can’t race in Bahrain. They shoot their citizens from helicopters, then hand out lollipops and it’s all OK? No, no it isn’t.

    (Excuse the pun) what the drop dead date for the race being canceled or given the go-ahead?

  12. The race cannot possibly be held. There is simply not enough time for a stable solution to emerge.

    If the military *keeps* shooting, the teams won’t go. It won’t matter if the security situation is stabilized, it will be politically untenable for the teams and their sponsors to attend.

    If the military *stops* shooting, the protesters will use the grand prix as a forum for their grievances.

    They’ll protest the race, they’ll block the roads leading to the track, perhaps even buy tickets to the race with the goal of scaling the barricades and blocking the track moments before the start.

    The only other possibility is that Bahrain’s leaders scamper off to Saudi Arabia, giving the protesters a quick and total victory. Even if that were to occur this very minute, there would not be enough time for a stable security situation to take hold.

    There is simply no way this race can go forward. Yet I still believe Bernie will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into this realization. The reality of cancellation is that Bernie will have to pay the teams, the broadcasters and other partners, without them having to attend or actually broadcast the event. It will rankle Bernie to no end. (Even though Bernie has already been paid in full by the Bahrain organizers)

    I still think Bernie will try to take a ugly way out, perhaps telling the teams they won’t be penalized if they choose not to attend. I think he’ll try anything rather than cancel the race himself and pay the teams their share. I hope the teams don’t fold to his bullying.

    It was Bernie’s decision to shift races out of democracies and do deals with dictators, he should have to pay the price.

  13. Luke: It’s simple. They should not go. And FWIW I said they should not go back when FIA/FOM started selling races to regimes who oppress their people and use the country’s wealth to promote tourism instead of building schools. Because the same people (a) own many hotels and (b) educate their children privately and often abroad.

    In these events, there is almost no upside to running the race. I presume FOM are obliged to cover the teams expenses if a race is called – Joe, any idea on that?

    And in the majority of the world’s F1 watching population, it will be a relief to see that there ARE depths to which BE will not sink.

    Leave Bahrain to work out the hideous inequalities of its political system without having the provocative spectacular of an F1 race in the middle, since this race would undoubtedly only serve to urge the most angry and the poorest to violence.

    And if they go, I will not watch it. Not much of a sacrifice, I agree.

  14. Times have moved on from when races were held in SA & Argentina, also the Bahrain troubles are linked to protests in other countries simply by implication of peoples desire for rights and freedom.

    If the race is not cancelled F1 will be in for a severe beating from the people. Also there should not be any future races there without positive and permanent change.

  15. The King/Crown Prince/royals obviously never heard the Beatle’s refrain: “Money can’t buy me love!” When you do not trust your own citizens enough to allow them to be part of the army (i.e.: Bahrain hires foreigners, as the majority are Shia, royals Sunni) , and the army massacres your subjects….HELLO, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM THAT YOU CANNOT HANDLE! Bernie yearns to gloss over problems both large and small, this may be beyond his capability…..JUST CANCEL THE DAMN RACE and be done with it.
    All right, rant over from the US.
    See you down the trail……

  16. First Egypt then Bahrain, a catalyst effect world wide no doubt, “power to the people” through the internet !

    just dont stop out favorite circuit from racing, Sakhir is the number one track, ah not to forget istanbul 5 g turns, a close second.

  17. Bernie will cancel it surely. He would never stand for someone using Formula One for the purpose of making a political statement. Certainly not without paying him for the privilege anyhow!

  18. I think Your assertation that the miliatry action was ordered by the King is incorrect,

    It is generally accepted that the state security apparatus in Bahrain is controlled by the prime minister, who is entering his 40th Year in office.

    10 Years ago when the current king and crown prince rose to power they sought to liberalize Bahrain with initiatives allowing greater political freedoms as well as bringing the F1.

    The liberalization has been curtailed by the power wielded by the prime minister as well as the proximity of powerful neighboring countries.

    – It looks as though the Crown Prince has taken a degree of charge now. the problem is that things are moving so quickly, and as soon as they are resolved the country will need to repair its image.

    Look at Egypt, less than a week after most of the western news crews gave up and headed back to their studios the ruler fell. What Egypt needs now more than anything, and what Bahrain may well need in a couple of weeks is tourists, and help to rebuild

  19. It’s more or less unthinkable that the race will take place at this moment in time.

    Who will blink first and call it off? That’s a totally different question.

    A lot of people have a lot of money at stake here, and he who blinks first and says ‘no race’ loses.

    It will suit Bernie to do and say nothing for now. At the end of the day, why would he? He has a contract for a race and to all intents and purposes, fully intends turning up with the circus and putting on the show.

    As time goes on and the situation of holding the Grand Prix becomes totally untenable the legal wranglings around such a decision become much less fraught the later the call was made.

    And, depending on how things go at street level, there may or may not be people left to have legal wranglings with. And those who are around will have more important things on their minds than an F1 contract dispute.

    Bernie won’t call it off. He’s smarter than that.

    The race won’t happen because it will be impossible for it to happen, and Bernie will legitimately be able to say ‘not my fault guv…’

  20. It now looks like Berne has seriously dropped the ball and confirmed beyond any doubt that he has totally misread the situation.

    By sloping his shoulders and giving the decision to the crown prince, he obviously does not understand that if the crown prince says it’s ok on Tuesday, it does not change a thing, he is far too close, he needs to step back and look from a distance. If Bernie allows, or insists, that the race goes ahead he will loose so much credibility with both the fans and any journalists or team members with a conscience, that many will start to doubt his suitability to continue in his position as supremo.

  21. Bernie says the Crown Prince will decide if the race happens or not.
    Talk about sitting on the fence. If Bernie cancels the Crown Prince will want his cash back and the teams will want paying. You can bet if anyother party cancel apart from Bernie he will want paying. Greedy, self interested, damn the consequences from FOM, the people that run the business (sorry sport) showing their true colours.
    It is time for change in all dictatorships, that even sporting ones.

  22. Sadly, just as I predicted, Bernie has decided not to cancel the race. He’s said he’s leaving the decision to the crown prince of Bahrain. Bernie has said that “He (the crown prince) will decide whether it’s safe for us to be there,” “I’ve no idea. I’m not there, so I don’t know.”

    It is *hugely* unlikely that the crown prince will *ever* cancel the race. The grand prix is THE most important event of the year in Bahrain. It’s a showpiece they’ve paid Billions to develop. HE’S spent billions to develop. This is the crown prince’s baby.

    The thing is, Bernie has never, ever canceled a single race in his entire career. I never for an instant believed he was about to start now. Canceling the race himself would cost him money, so he’s abandoned his responsibly. Bernie’s money comes first, to hell with the public perception of Formula One. To hell with long-term damage to the sport.

    The teams need to respond with unity, force, and fury! They should perhaps start with a few talking points like these:

    1. OF COURSE it’s Bernie’s job to decide whether it’s safe. He’s in charge. FOM receives half the sport’s revenue for some damn reason. If determining safety isn’t his job, whose is it?

    2. It’s disgraceful to run a race under these circumstances. Bernie has abandoned his responsibility to save himself a few dollars.

    3. Bernie is almost entirely responsible for moving races from free democracies to autocracies and dictatorships like Bahrain. It’s his fault we’re in this mess.

    4. Attending this race at this time could do incalculable damage to the reputation of the sport. Bernie’s life-long insensitivity to issues like this is penny cheap and pound foolish.

    5. Have big sponsors reach out to Bernie and tell him what an insensitive clod he’s being, perhaps threaten to stop buying paddock club passes and advertising hoardings.

    The teams can easily take the high ground on this. They could ensure the public perception isn’t that the entirety of Formula One are insensitive oafs. They could likely force Bernie’s hand and save the sport a monumental amount of damage and grief. Here’s hoping..

  23. Joe – has the equipment already been sent there? If so, can they truck it to Yas Marina as an interim measure? Its not like they have to worry about spectators tickets for either venue.

  24. Joe

    Just heard from my divisional boss who just arrived in Europe from Bahrain that the situation in Bahrain is very good

  25. Did we all read this? http://gulfnews.com/sport/motorsport/bahrain-grand-prix-to-be-rescheduled-to-end-of-season-1.765003

    Notwithstanding the above report in the Gulf news:
    Suppose Vodafone or Santander decided that they do not want to be seen in a country where soldiers and police shoot unarmed civilians and tell Ferrari and/or McLaren to take their names off the cars and of course pay back a proportion of the sponsorship money, (which would be great for the sponsors, they get a bit of money back, their names in worldwide media, and a perception of responsibility, fairness, humanity, and possibly a warm glow, all in one go.) So I shall be surprised if one of them does not take advantage. (me a cynic? Nah! the reality is far worse!)

    The drivers so far have displayed no doubts whatsoever about the moral issues involved, but only about their safety. (let’s not forget that some of the mechanics were actually robbed in Brazil but only the escape of the drivers got headlines.) The leader of the protesters, several days back, said that the GP will be their major publicity seeking event. Even if they remain quiet up to FP1 they will regroup after the punters are inside. Then the police will be obliged to clear them away again. Unless the prince charms them (pun intended) I think “We ‘aint seen nothing yet!”

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