Both during and after the unrest, many serious accusations were levied against the Bahraini government. Many of these accusations were based in truth, but even more were hyper-sensationalized and false — the work of propaganda yet again. We understood that for us to move forward as a county, we need an honest account of our history. From this, we can work to enact necessary reform.
Bahrain needs serious people to tackle serious problems. We face challenges from two directions, external as well as internal. Our government wants nothing more than to engage the opposition, hear its suggestions, and act to better our society for all. The opposition has repeatedly snubbed our government’s attempts for discussion. It resigns parliamentary seats, the very venue to facilitate lasting change; it rejects the Crown Prince’s repeated call for comprehensive dialogue to address their concerns.
There was no ceiling for what reforms could be achieved. But certain opposition groups balked at the dialogue and walked away from discussion, just as they resigned 18 seats in Bahrain’s Parliament in March and boycotted our by-elections in September. Even now, opposition societies have rejected invitations to participation in the National Commission implementing recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report. Informal talks are not enough: the door will always remain open to dialogue without preconditions to address the legitimate aspirations of the Bahraini people.
Bahrain understands that a political solution requires that government reach an accommodation with members of the political opposition. It is important, however, to understand that large factions of the political opposition seek to implement a social program that would roll back the very freedoms that have distinguished Bahrain from its neighbors. Our political system is not perfect, but Bahrain’s government is working to make it more representative for all Bahrainis.
Bahrain’s individual journey to a more representative government continues each day. Our government was tested in 2011 but the country has regained its footing and is absorbing the lessons it experienced. The citizens and their government know that the evolution of their shared government must continue, based on honest dialogue and accurate facts.
To date, the opposition has not reciprocated this commitment. Bahrain has implemented many important political reforms and has addressed main issues pertaining to human rights. We recognize that we have much more to do.
Bahrain’s historic alliance with the United States is the cornerstone of regional security in the Gulf. It is very important that our partners on Capitol Hill fully understand the situation in Bahrain and encourage us as we continue down our path of reform.
Nonoo is Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States.