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October 12, 2006

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Ranjit Singh

Interesting post. I lived in Bahrain in 1991 for about eight months, working for a younger member of the ruling family. As such, I spent a good amount of time with the younger generation of sheikhs, playing football, attending parties, and so forth with many of the sons of ministers. Politics and popular perceptions of the legitimacy of the government were frequently-discussed topics in this crowd. Because I spent much time in Manama's coffee shops, in an informal manner not easily adopted by members of the ruling Al-Khalifa, the younger sheikhs would sometimes ask me what I was hearing from citizens about the government. I never named names, but noted that, purely anecedotally, the Emir at that time (Sheikh Issa) enjoyed considerable personal popularity and respect, even among the pro-democracy activists who opposed his illiberal, anti-parliamentary actions. There was no such reserve of goodwill for the Emir's son, the current King. The young elites I chatted with 15 years ago were keenly aware of this, admitting my observations confirmed their fears regarding an impending succession at the top. Not having returned to Bahrain since, I don't have a sense of the current King's popularity. I wonder if the current crisis, one that seemed inevitable 15 years ago, is especially intensified by an unpopular monarch?

Garden dweller

Haq means 'Justice'? Never mind that the US State Department's apparently only got a few dozen fluent Arabic speakers, its seems the problem is just as bad in American academia. This after all isn’t just an isolated example - either in terms of Middle East departments or this particular scholar's writing.

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