Abu Dhabi, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Bahraini public were surprised yesterday when during a parliamentary session 17 Al-Wafaq MP’s refused to vote for the issuance of a statement supporting Saudi Arabia’s actions against the Huthi insurgents who infiltrated Saudi territory. This led to the statement of support being passed with the approval of just 23 MP’s after the Al-Wafaq parliamentary bloc – the largest opposition bloc in Bahraini parliament – refused to vote in support of the statement. These events caused great debate throughout the corridors of parliament.
Prior to this, an informal agreement had been made between the Bahraini parliamentary blocs that the al-Wafaq bloc would abstain from voting, however the 17 members of the al-Wafaq parliamentary bloc voted against issuing a statement of support to Saudi Arabia. Sunni MP’s rejected the position of the Shiite Al-Wafaq party with regards to not supporting the issuance of a statement of support for Saudi Arabia’s operations against those that had attacked its territory.
The Vice President of the Al Asalah Islamic parliamentary bloc informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the Bahraini parliament’s electronic voting system had increased the controversy, as it was unclear whether the Al-Wafaq bloc had abstained from voting, or voted against the statement.
Sheikh Adel al-Mawada, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense told Asharq Al-Awsat that he regretted the position taken by the Al-Wafaq bloc, and that this position is not consistent with that of the public’s which is supportive towards Saudi Arabia. Al-Mawada described this “as a red line that should not be crossed” and he described the opposition MP’s as taking “a sectarian position which shows the true loyalty of [the Al-Wafaq] MPs who should [support] their country, not any other country.”
Al-Mawada told Asharq Al-Awsat that Bahrain’s position and its relationship to Saudi Arabia has existed since time immemorial and that “Bahrain stands next to her big sister [Saudi Arabia] and so how can MPs now come out and reject the very least thing that Bahrain can do, which is rejecting these attacks [on Saudi Arabia]?”
Sheikh al-Mawada added that he is surprised that any Arab or Muslim could be “indifferent to the attacks undertaken by infiltrators of the Saudi border, especially when considering who is behind these blatant attacks, and that they are being directly supported by Iran, which has revealed its true position through its official spokesman, the Al-Alem [news] channel.” He added “This is the first time that I have seen Arab countries taking the right decision by agreeing to stop its broadcast.”
However the Al-Wafaq parliamentary bloc vice-president, MP Khalil al-Marzuk told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Al-Wafaq bloc abstained from voting “because we do not want to involve ourselves in the Yemeni problem, and this is a complicated and internal Yemeni issue, and we do not wish to become involved in this problem.”
Al-Marzuk added “Our position does not mean we are against our elder sister Saudi Arabia; this is a different issue. What is happening [along the Yemeni – Saudi Arabian borders] remains unclear; therefore we think we should not involve ourselves in such situations.”
It is also worth mentioning that Salafist al-Mustaqbal party MP, Sheikh Jassim Al Saidi – who did not attend yesterday’s parliamentary session due to illness – said that he expected the Al-Wafaq parliamentary bloc to block the issuance of a statement of support to Saudi Arabia, and accused them of having ties to the Huthi insurgents in Yemen.
Al Saidi said “the time of the al-Wafaq bloc hidings its true affiliations has come to an end, for what happened with the al-Wafaq parliamentary bloc refusing to issue a statement of popular support to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is something that is detrimental not just to the relationship between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, but also harms the fraternal and historic ties between our people which can be traced into the far recesses of history. The Saudis have the right to do what is necessary to clear the Huthis from their territory.”
Al Saidi added that the al-Wafaq bloc refusing to support the issuance of this statement raises many questions marks “especially since the Kingdom of Bahrain has common and close ties to our brothers in Saudi Arabia who are currently facing an armed gang. Therefore the Al-Wafaq bloc’s excuse is not acceptable in this case…for yesterday Al-Wafaq voted for harmony with Iran and against any military action against Iran, and there were no rejections or abstentions on this issue, but when the issue involves our Saudi sister and the Huthi agents of Iran…then the issue requires consideration.”