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In a recent interview, Hamad bin Jassim, the former prime minister of Qatar, dispelled rumors that he secretly colluded with Bahraini opposition figures in order to incite protests against authorities.
Jassim declared that he met with Bahraini opposition figures in accordance with the laws of Bahrain, under the coordination of Bahraini officials, and inside the king’s palace.
Jassim’s declaration was highlighted in a statement issued on 16 March by the Alwefaq Society, the largest opposition bloc in Bahrain.
His revelations directly affect the Secretary General of Alwefaq, Sheikh Ali Salman, who was jailed under a myriad of allegations relating to attempts to launch a violent coup d’état against the ruling authorities as well as spying for Qatar, a rival state.
Al-Wefaq: New information and evidence reveal the truth behind the arbitrary ruling issued against Sheikh Ali Salman#FreeSheikhAli #Bahrain #البحرين #الوفاق pic.twitter.com/GxKHDcLrPC
— Alwefaq Society (@ALWEFAQ) March 15, 2022
Sheikh Salman was arrested in December 2014 and handed a life sentence in November 2018.
While in prison, Sheikh Salman wrote a legal plea where he described various instances of political repression in the country, including restrictions on freedom of association for political groups and parties.
“Members of society are forbidden from meeting with a representative of any foreign state without the presence of a representative from the foreign ministry,” Sheikh Salman stated in his plea about the nature of the 2014 amendments to the law of political societies.
During Bahrain’s anti-government uprising in February 2011, which saw security forces kill unarmed protesters, then prime minister Jassim attempted to mediate to end the crisis, as human rights groups were condemning actions carried out by the Bahraini government against the protesters.
The Bahraini government attempted to frame the protests as violent and that such violence was encouraged by the opposition bloc leaders, including Sheikh Ali Salman. However, no evidence has linked any alleged violent behavior among the overwhelmingly peaceful protesters to any organized planning on the part of the opposition.
Al Watan published allegations in 2017 claiming that Qatar and Iran worked together with Alwefaq to secretly organize violent protests against the ruling Al-Khalifa family.
The claims of the former PM Hamad bin Jassim run contrary to these accusations. Jassim has emphasized that his mediation was conducted in full coordination with the state and ruling family.
“Hamad bin Jassim has detailed that the initiative was a joint one between the King of Bahrain, [Saudi foreign minister] Saud al-Faisal, Hamad bin Jassim, and [US official Jeffrey] Feltman, on the basis of which the communication was made with Sheikh Ali Salman in a bid to end the political crisis,” Alwefaq noted in their statement.
The communication between Sheikh Ali Salman and former PM Jassim, which was approved by Bahraini authorities, took place “inside the Bahraini king’s palace,” according to Alwefaq.