When Britain declared that it was willing to withdraw from the Arabian Gulf, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman hastened to tackle the problem involving Iran's claim of Bahrain and to find a specific mechanism to overcome this dilemma. His Highness had announced from the beginning that the State of Bahrain is a firm and an independent entity, and that it will not bargain at all or give up any inch of its territory. Upon this basis, he began his restless efforts at various levels by contacting various leaders in all parts of the world to clarify the Bahraini point of view, to affirm the Bahraini position, and to draw global support for the Bahraini national hopes and wishes.
On the domestic level, His Highness’ concerns were addressed to establish and assert the conviction of the Arab identity of the citizens of Bahrain and its independence and territorial integrity and that it will not be an easy prey to any greedy power or aggressor. On the other hand , His Highness worked on securing economic and financial stability in the country during that period, especially after a large number of capital holders transferred their money outside Bahrain for fear of an Iranian invasion(!). His Highness also worked to secure food and strategic supplies to Bahrain that would suffice its population for a long period of time in an anticipation of an Iranian step that might hinder the delivery of such supplies to Bahrain. The efforts and the directives of His Highness the late Emir Sheikh Isa Bin Salman and his contacts and consultations with his fellow Arab leaders had been a catalyst to give the matter an Arab dimension.
In the diplomatic domain and after shuttle flights made by the Bahraini leadership to a number of Arab and friendly states, and as a result of the good offices of the Saudi, Kuwaiti and British with the Iranian leadership, arrangements had been made in 1968 to hold exploratory meetings between the two sides, which were secretly held in Switzerland. These meetings were designed to explore views among officials in the two states in addition to developing a framework for the agenda of the formal talks.
In these meetings, the Iranians submitted several proposals to resolve the disagreement including referral of the dispute to the UN Security Council for considering it in accordance with articles 34 and 35 of the of the United Nations Charter. This was the first proposal and it had been rejected by Bahrain, which laid a set of legal reasons to support its position.
However, the second Iranian proposal was to present the case before the Special Committee of the UN General Assembly, as one of the topics of fighting imperialism, or to submit it to the International Court of Justice for consideration as a legal dispute concerning sovereignty over the territory. Bahrain rejected these proposals also; the Bahraini arguments stemmed from the fact that the proposals made by the Iranian side did not apply to Bahrain and the conflict with Iran because Bahrain had been and will remain an independent entity that is not tied to any State or other entity. Thus, the discussing of the issue - according to articles 34 and 35 of the United Nations Charter, namely, to treat the dispute between two member states of the United Nations - did not suit the Bahraini side, which demanded that the talks be run directly between the two states as independent entities.
On the other hand, the Bahraini side submitted alternative proposals, including submitting the dispute to regional organizations, or some of the leaders of friendly countries to find a way out and a solution that achieves the interest of both parties. The Iranian side rejected these proposals also, thus, the talks stopped at this point without reaching a solution of the issue or an agreement on a future plan of action, while keeping the door open for further talks and consultations at a later time. Some of the recorded memories of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa on the Geneva talks between the Iranian and Bahraini delegations, which was chaired by His Highness, was that the head of the Iranian delegation began the first session of the talks with threats and intimidation, saying: "Iran could send its warships to Bahrain and occupy it within few hours to resolve the issue".
Then, and although His Highness Sheikh Khalifa was known for his diplomacy and calmness, it was necessary for him to send a clear and stringent message to the Iranian delegation despite the boast expressed by the head of the Iranian delegation. Therefore, the response of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa was that: “Bahrain may be small in area, but, we will defend it with all our strength, faith and determination until the last drop of our blood. Foreign troops will never touch our land without finding it burning in fire.”
Despite this setback in the first round of bilateral talks between the two sides, Bahraini efforts and contacts continued at the highest levels to explain the Bahraini case to the leaders and heads of many countries in order to exert their efforts with the Shah of Iran...
The results of these efforts culminated effectually during a visit by the Shah to India on the 4th of January 1969; when he announced the acceptance of Iran to resolve the dispute with Bahrain through negotiations and its refusal to resort to the use of force and impose the Iranian fait accompli on Bahrain. He also stressed his desire and readiness to support the right of self-determination for the people of Bahrain.
His Highness Shaikh Isa Bin Salman, may his soul rest in peace, and His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman responded positively to the Iranian initiative where decree No. (1) For the year 1969 was issued announcing the foundation of the foreign affairs department starting from January 12, 1969. The decree assigned to the concerned department the responsibility for the international relations of Bahrain in various diplomatic, economic and cultural fields. Then His Highness issued the venerable decree No. (2) Appointing Sheikh Mohammed Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa as director of the Department. In the third decree, His Highness ordered the appointment of Dr. Hussein Mohamed Al-Baharneh as the legal adviser of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
As of this date, Bahrain officially assumed the administration and handling of its foreign affairs after it was within the British responsibility. On this basis, contacts between experts and politicians in both countries continued until the two parties reached a preliminary agenda and a common base of understanding in early 1969. The agreement included a draft calling upon the Secretary General of the United Nations to mediate in the dispute through his good offices.
This draft agreement called for mutual understanding between the two parties and an agreement on defining the powers of the Secretary General in the task he will assume. Therefore, indirect talks were held between the two parties, and through the British Foreign Ministry. When the text of the memorandum that defines the powers of the Secretary General and his personal representative was prepared, the Bahraini side committed itself to an initial steadfast principled, firm position towards the use of Articles 34 and 35 of the UN Charter in the memorandum, as the conflict originally was between the Bahraini government as an independent state and the Iranian government as an independent state. It is not a dispute between Iran and Britain on the territory of Bahrain.
On the other hand, Iran, in its turn did not recognize Bahrain as an independent state. Therefore, it was agreed that Bahrain submits its request to the Secretary General through the United Kingdom, through its dual capacity as a member of the United Nations and as the protector state of Bahrain that undertakes its foreign affairs on its behalf. In the end, they approved a text that omitted any reference to the conflict or any text that uses the words Britain and Iran. The agreed upon text read as follows: "Due to the problem arising as a result of conflicting views of the parties concerned on the situation in Bahrain, and since a solution is needed for the problem to create a climate of stability and friendship throughout the region, the concerned parties requested the United Nations Secretary General to send a personal representative to ascertain the wishes of the people of Bahrain.”
Although this document was agreed upon between the concerned parties to define the powers of the Secretary General and his representative; yet, it has stirred up controversy on the agenda and work program and the way the personal representative of the Secretary General performed the duties entrusted to him. The Iranian side rejected the drafting of a written document in this regard leaving it for personal choice. The Bahrain side, on the other hand, adopted a position focused primarily on the distinction between the way the personal representative carries out his assigned good offices and any other way that could lead to a general referendum in Bahrain. The Bahraini side thought that the task of the personal representative and the Secretary General was specific and therefore it must be implemented according to the limited agenda.
Britain proposed that a meeting be held in Geneva comprising representatives for the government of Bahrain and representatives for the United Nations and sponsored by the British, to prepare a specific work agenda for the mission of the personal representative in Bahrain. The meeting was held in the afternoon of December 31, 1969 and resulted in the drafting of a five-item document that dealt with the method of work and the measures related to the implementation of the task of the personal representative in Bahrain according to the provision of the document specifying the powers of the personal representative.
On the 28th of March 1970, the UN Secretary General issued an official statement regarding the mission of his personal representative in Bahrain; which provides as follows: "as a result of the talks held between the permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations and the Secretary General concerning the latter’s good offices to resolve the dispute between Britain and Iran, Iran's permanent representative to the United Nations submitted a request to the Secretary General on the 9th of March 1970 to exercise his good endeavors to resolve the dispute between Iran and Britain in such a way as to ensure achievement of the true wishes of the people of Bahrain regarding the future of the islands and the appointment of a personal representative to accomplish this task ...
The British government responded to the statement of the Secretary General of the United Nations, attached to the letter of the Iranian representative, by a letter from the British representative to the Secretary General of the United Nations stating that: "The government of the United Kingdom (on behalf of Bahrain) is pleased to inform His Excellency the Secretary General of its approval of the Iranian government proposal to request your Excellency to do your good offices by sending a personal representative to ascertain the wishes of the people of Bahrain. "On the 20th of March 1970, the Secretary General of the United Nations sent a notification to the Governments of Iran and the United Kingdom of his approval of the request of the two governments, in which he expressed his readiness to commence his good offices to ascertain the wishes of the Bahraini people according to the powers agreed by the two parties to be entrusted to the personal representative and the specific program of work.
In this regard, the Secretary General said, in the above notice: "The personal representative, which the two parties agreed on his appointment, will go to Bahrain with a number of staff as soon as possible. Assurances were given to the Secretary General that the opportunity shall be given to the people of Bahrain to express their wishes freely and confidentially. In addition to this, the personal representative will facilitate an interview with anyone of the citizens who wishes to talk, and provided that the personal representative shall submit a report on his findings in Bahrain to the Secretary General, who will in turn present this report to the Security Council for discussion and approval, according to what was agreed upon by the two chapter ies.
The Secretary General commends the willingness of the government of Iran to approve his special report on the mode of action he deems appropriate to accomplish the task of his personal representative and his good offices. Achieving the wishes of the people of Bahrain will be the basis and optimal goal of the mission of the Secretary General regarding his good offices in Bahrain.”
Winsber in Bahrain
In Bahrain, the atmosphere was fully prepared to receive the United Nations mission. On the 29th of March 1970, the radio broadcasted a statement issued by the State Council addressed to citizens stating that: "The Iranian position is one of the things that must be dealt with fundamentally, not as a matter of concern to Bahrain, but to ensure the future of the region". The statement added: "to assert the Arabism of Bahrain is an axiom that leaves no room for any allegation. Nevertheless, Bahrain, believing in the UN Organization, approves the decision of the Secretary General to send a representative in a fact-finding mission to be able to raise his report to the UN Security Council to be approved as an international document that will put a definitive end to the dispute. The representative of the Secretary General, Mr. Winsber will arrive in Bahrain, and it is our duty to maintain order and receive him well to help the mission to perform its duty."
On the other hand, opposing positions emerged against the mission, the efforts of the United Nations, and the international consensus. In this regard, the "Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arabian Gulf" issued a statement attacking the international fact-finding mission and claimed that this mission was of the schemes of Britain, America and Iran!
In conclusion, Bahrain, the leadership and the people, was welcoming the mission, which arrived in Manama on the 20th of March 1970 headed by Mr. Winsber Juichiardi, an Italian diplomat who held the post of Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in his country, then became an ambassador to a number of European capitals and was later appointed as head of the United Nations Office in Geneva in 1965, and finally as assistant to the Secretary General, until Uthant delegated him as chairman of the fact-finding mission in Bahrain. However, it was historically established that Winsber did not limit his mission to contacting the official bodies only, rather he began touring in the cities, villages and markets; entering Parliaments and listening to the views and wishes of citizens.
Moreover, he published an advertisement, in the second week after his arrival to Bahrain, indicating therein his willingness to receive any person wishing to meet him in his office without restriction or condition and without the presence of any representative from the Bahraini government. The mission continued for twenty days; after which the delegation returned to Geneva, where Winsber submitted his report to the Secretary General, together with the conclusions of the mission and its final recommendations.
In Geneva, and prior to the special meeting to for ratification and the issuance of the UN Security Council resolution on Bahrain, the Bahraini delegation, who traveled there to attend the meeting as an observer, was conducting intensive consultations with representatives of member states. The delegation consisting of the head of the Foreign Affairs Dept., Sheikh Mohammed Bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa and the legal advisor at the department, Dr Hussein Mohamed Al-Baharna, held meetings with the United Nations Secretary General, Uthant and his assistants and messieurs Jacques Kosiko Morize, representative of France, who was heading the Security Council for such session. The delegation also held a meeting with the Arab group at the United Nations. It was decided after that meeting that the representative of Syria in the Security Council expresses the Arab viewpoint on this issue.
On the 11th of May 1970, the Secretary General submitted the report of his personal representative to the UN Security Council for discussion and for the adoption of a resolution. At the outset of the meeting, the Chairman of the Council pointed to the goals of the meeting, saying: "The Security Council is meeting today at the request of the representatives of Iran and the United Kingdom in order to discuss the issue of Bahrain on the basis of the report submitted by the personal representative of the Secretary General."
After reading the report, the Chairman asked the Council members to vote on a draft resolution prepared in advance by the members. The draft of the this resolution stated that: "Having examined the statement of the Secretary General to the Security Council on the 28th of March 1970, and the statements of the representatives of Iran and the United Kingdom in their speeches to the Council on the 9th and the 20th of March 1970, the Security Council endorses the report of the personal representative of the Secretary General that was presented to the Council along with a memo from the Secretary General dated April 30, 1970.
The Council welcomes the conclusions and findings of the report, especially those, which confirm that the vast majority of the Bahraini people wish to gain recognition of its entity as a state within an independent, fully sovereign and free country that is capable of deciding its relations with other countries.”
After voting, the resolution was unanimously approved. Then, the member delegates delivered the speeches of their states, which ranged between welcoming the resolution, and the reference to the method of the personal representative in ascertaining the wishes of the Bahraini people, which was contrary to the usual custom in the United Nations. However, Mr. Uthant did not hesitate to reply to this statement stressing that his task and the manner of its implementation was completely consistent with the usual measures applicable at the UN organization.
That is how the deliberations on the future of Bahrain went on at the United Nations whilst Bahrain was observing with admiration the wisdom of its faithful leaders who managed to attract the sympathy of the world towards the hopes of the Bahrainis and the rights of their country. On the Arab level, there have been sympathy and enormous Arab efforts to support the Bahraini issue, but other events swept the region, which made the spotlights turn from time to time to the place where these events took place. In Libya, a number of Libyan officers managed to perform a white military coup that ended the rule of Al Sanoussi and the dethronement of King Muhammad Idris turning the form of governance of the country from royal to republican. Lieutenant Muammar Gaddafi, assumed the presidency in the country and promoted his military rank to colonel.
The events barely calmed down when the spotlights turned towards Jordan where military operations and bloody battles spread and erupted in September 1970 between the Jordanian army and Palestinian commando organizations, which, since the end of the war in 1967, were involved in the formation of armed groups that used to carry out military reprisals against the Israeli occupation forces. Thus, Jordan became the target of military operations, in which Israeli aircraft and artillery participated and led to huge losses in lives and equipment by the Jordanian army and the people.
The operations began individually in Amman but soon spread to the surrounding areas and a number of Jordanian cities. The battles expanded and resulted in the death of hundreds of and victims, the indulgence of Syria in the battles, and the penetration of its army into the Jordanian territory. Arab states called upon each other to a meeting for Arab leaders in Cairo to discuss how to end the civil war in Jordan and to rescue the Palestinian forces from genocide and loss. After several meetings and consultations, an Arab agreement was reached to transfer the Palestinian armed elements to bases in Syria and southern Lebanon on the condition that the Jordanian government sponsors the families of the Palestinian militants and provide them with necessary social and health care.
That civil war represented a critical stage in the Arab anguish from which Arab peoples and leaders alike suffered…such suffering reached its peak when a severe heart attack ended the life of the Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser putting an end to years of his rule, which officially began on the 16th of January 1956 and ended on the evening of the 28th of September 1970.
Just as Bahrain was worried for what was happening of bloody battles in Jordan between the Arab brothers; it was grieved for the loss of an Arab leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, whose death had caused deep sadness throughout Bahrain, which shared the rest of the Arab countries and peoples the official and popular mourning of the great late leader; His Highness Sheikh Isa Bin Salman, mercy upon his soul, was among the first leaders to arrive in Cairo to pay his condolence in the name of Bahrain and to take part in the funeral of the late leader.
Independence and the Rise of State: Until 1971, Bahrain did not gain its full independence; it is true that the efforts of His Highness Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad and his sons His Highness Shaikh Isa and Sheikh Khalifa had maintained Bahrain as a state and an independent entity at a safe distance from the British interventions related to higher political decisions, but that was not enough to express the hopes and aspirations of the ruling leadership and the people. However, on the morning of the 14th of August 1971, all Bahrain and the honorable people in various parts of the Arab world were waiting for the important statement that would be broadcast on Bahrain Radio from the government Parliament, which had witnessed during the past few days vigorous meetings, intensive dialogues and discussions between the statesmen, in preparation for this outstanding day.
From the government Parliament, the headquarters of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman, Chairman of the State Council, the dreams, which Bahrainis and the Arabs were waiting for many years came true. His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman uttered those words as he was the one who fought like heroes to take Bahrain to this amazing historical moment under the leadership of his late brother His Highness Shaikh Isa Bin Salman, may God rest his soul.
"In the name of Allah the most Merciful, the most Compassionate … The Muslim Arab State of Bahrain, which believes in the Arab unity as a matter of national urgency dictated upon it by history, religion, language and culture, and the joint Arab destiny, has been working hard and sincerely and has striven to achieve the Federation of Arab Emirates over the last three years, ever since the government of Bahrain had joined its neighboring Arab Emirates in the signing of the Convention on the draft of the Arab Emirates Union, on the 27th of February 1968 in the Emirate of Dubai, and out of absolute our belief in the need for the establishment of this union (the United Arab Emirates) and the completion of its right constitutional form emanating from the innermost of the aspirations and hopes of the peoples in this region, and with our desire to have this union established on firm foundations that ensure its survival and development; and to secure dignity, welfare and progress for the people of this region, our government had focused in its long talks on fundamental principles which it called for in each meeting or conference it attended during the last few years.
His Highness added: "...as a result, Bahrain had no choice but to think of an alternative that can protect our identity and independence, especially after the issuance of the historic Security Council resolution on the 11th of May 1970, which confirmed definitively the desire of the people of Bahrain to obtain international recognition of its independent entity and identity as a people that belongs to an independent sovereign state, free to determine the basis of its relations with other countries.
In the light of this historic resolution by the international organization, which embodies the national wishes of the people of Bahrain and its aspirations for the future, and as the commendable good offices of the Saudi-Kuwaiti mediation delegation did not actually lead to the rise of the desired union, and with an eye to the wishes and aspirations of our people in harmony with the higher national interest of the peoples and the States of this vital region; who all yearn for maintaining the security, stability and development of the region in an atmosphere of brotherhood, peace and good neighborhood…Therefore, and for all of this, and following the brotherly and friendly consultations that we have had with our major neighboring states in the Gulf, we have decided to announce that our government has today decided to take the following steps:
First: Termination of all political and military international treaties and conventions that govern the special alliance relations between the government of Bahrain and the British government. Therefore, the British military
Second: Bahrain, the Arab independent state, has the absolute sovereignty over its territory, and its government and not anyone else, has the right to ratify its external affairs and organize its international relations.
Third: To immediately apply for the joining of the State of Bahrain as member to the Arab League and the United Nations Organization.
Fourth: To request the sisterly Arab countries, friendly Islamic countries and other countries of the world to recognize the status and entity of Bahrain as an Arab independent state.
With these brief, confident and quiet words, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa put an end to an era full of dependence in which Bahrain found itself obliged to adhere ...With these words Sheikh Khalifa drawn the features of the future of Bahrain as a free, independent Arab state having absolute sovereignty over itself, its people, its land and its strength. By this, he had achieved the dream that was inherited by generations of Bahrainis, the dream, which His Highness Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad and later His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, worked to achieve for the sake of Bahrain.
On the next day, the first decree No. (1) of 1971 was issued by the Emir as a Ruler of an Arab independent State; the two articles provided for the following:
Article One: the official name of Bahrain and its ancillaries shall be the "State of Bahrain".
Article Two: the official title of the Ruler of Bahrain and its ancillaries shall be the "Emir of the State of Bahrain."
In the second decree, His Highness the Emir of the State formed a council that succeeded the State Council, to be named the "Council of Ministers" headed by a President called "the Prime Minister", while members of the Council were called "ministers", and the departments of the current government were called "ministries".
On the evening of Wednesday, the 18th of August 1971, the Council of Ministers of the State of Bahrain held its first meeting, which was chaired by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa who discussed the implications of Bahrain’s Declaration of Independence and the steps to be taken by the State to ensure that such issue be realized in reality.
The experience that confirmed the know-how and diplomacy of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa has qualified him as the right man to assume the duties of executive management in such a sensitive stage of the history of Bahrain. Hence, His Highness started drafting the first Constitution for Bahrain. To this end, His Highness conducted daily meetings and consultations with a large number of statesmen and experts in the Constitutional laws in a number of brotherly and friendly countries. His Highness asked all related experts to participate in such democratic consultations. The newspapers also participated in publishing press articles and analysis and the views of citizens, in a manner similar to a general referendum of various classes of people, to monitor the wishes and aspirations of the people of Bahrain and their vision of the state they aspire to.
There were several issues that needed to be approved before drafting the Constitution is completed and it was necessary to establish the principles that will underlie the Constitution. There were previous Arab and Gulf countries models that could be put into practice in the emerging State of Bahrain ... Therefore, it raised a series of questions about the mechanism for drafting the Constitution and the nature of the institution that will be entrusted with the role to draft this Constitution ... Is it a Constitutional assembly as was the case in Kuwait in 1961, a commission charged by the executive authority or a legislative body with authority? Everyone participated in these consultations, and in the forefront was His Highness Sheikh Isa Bin Salman and His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman. Several suggestions and proposals were presented including:
The formation of a specialized committee of the elite national legal, Constitutional and intellectual competencies to lay down the basic principles of the Constitution and the drafting of its articles. Then a legislative parliamentary representation will be created for voting and approval. There will also be a preliminary drafting of the Constitution that will be presented to the people, perhaps like a general referendum, in which the people will participate not only by voting but also by contributing to preparing and drafting the articles of this Constitution in its final form. The draft proposal of the Constitution will be submitted by the executive authority and put through mass media for direct vote of the people. An elected advisory council will be responsible for developing a draft of the Constitution; this council will be formed of prominent politicians, thinkers and experts in the various institutions of the state. Finally, this draft will be presented to the public for approval institutionally and popularly.
We have previously referred to the political circumstances, which Bahrain had witnessed and had sensitive economic and social impact on the state and the people of Bahrain. Therefore, there was a consensus among the various segments and classes of the people that the most important foundations of the next stage was establishing a structure for social and economic reform to be the basis of the Constitution, which will consolidate and draft it. At that stage of the history of Bahrain, there were numerous regulations governing the global economic course like communism, capitalism and the free market economy…etc, but the consensus in Bahrain was to adopt a free-market economy.
However, implementation of this principle, with all its requirements and rules, was impossible for a developing and emerging country that depends in all its achievements and projects on the government. As the market economy has proved to be a universal principle that provided its feasibility and constructive results, therefore, it acquired the admiration and satisfaction of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, who saw in it an ambitious and civilized manner to establish the bases of a rich economy. However, achieving this was a difficult thing to do because there were compelling, inhibiting circumstances including:
The absence of control over prices, the nonexistence of a mechanism governing these prices, the need for laws to establish such control and dependence on the state in establishing service projects that benefit the development of society as a whole ... At the time when Bahrain was in dire need for such public service projects, the merchants and importers class was opposing the State’s direct entry into the market. Therefore, the government's proposal to establish the National Company for Import and Export faced a rigid opposition from the merchants class and the financial and enterprise sectors in Bahrain ...However, this attitude began receding slowly upon the insistence of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman to convince members of this sector of the importance of such company for Bahrain as a state, an entity and people, the absence of regulations for work and workers, laws of public service and social security, the lack of commitment by foreign companies to hire sufficient numbers of citizens and the influence of these big companies to face the government.
In general ... All these implications and circumstances were taken into account when starting thinking of drafting Constitutional bases for drafting articles of the Constitution in Bahrain. On this basis, the government consulted the Constitutional expert of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, Dr. Othman Khalil Othman, who was assigned as an adviser to a body composed of four ministers, whose mission was to prepare a first draft of the Constitution provided that there would be another phase through which the draft Constitution will pass; presenting it to the Council of Ministers for discussion before taking it to the third stage.
In the third stage, the Constitution will be presented to the Constituent Assembly, which in turn will continue discussing the draft starting December 1973 until June 1975. In order to legitimize these steps, it required the issuance of a royal decree that stipulates the formation of a Council for drafting the Constitution, then a further decree was issued concerned with the rules for electing the Constituent Council, which was considered the first legislative institution to be elected in the history of Bahrain ...That had a story worth of recording.
When His Highness Sheikh Isa Bin Salman and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman agreed on the mechanism of adopting the Constitution through consultations conducted by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman and with skill and know-how, the aforementioned decrees were issued, and preparations started for the formation of the Constituent Council by direct election.
On the first of December 1973, the election process began in quiet and well organized atmosphere according to accurate systems and overwhelming popular participation… such elections were the real start of a free democracy, and the stage of the active role of legislative assemblies in participation in governance through Constitutional and popular authority. The entire world had witnessed, through observers and correspondents of news agencies who flocked to Bahrain to record this historic day in the life of this young State, the democratic elections, the neutrality of the state and the freedom of expression that prevailed in the elections, which was prepared according to a system that divides the State into eight constituencies, which consequently produced members of the Constituent Council in Bahrain.
After the success of the electoral process, it was decided to hold the first session of the Council and its inauguration was on Saturday the 16th of December 1973. Until the date of holding the session, we will refer you to a Bahraini's dream that was gradually building up, namely Bahrain’s Defense Force, and its leader His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa.
The Institutions State.
The new ministry had inherited what was known as the State Council, which is the first executive institution in the country which was formed on the 9th of January 1970 and was chaired by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman, while His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Issa was a member and the chief of the Defense Department.
As for the formation of the government, the new Ministry: the responsibility of the Defense Ministry was vested in Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa who was also the general commander of Bahrain Defense Force. Through these very important positions, His Highness worked to complete the mission, which was a dream flirting his thoughts and a wish instilled in his conscience; to give a gift to Bahrain, an army of its citizens, trained, expert and capable of defending it and participating in the process of building the state.
Upon reading the story of Bahrain Defense Force, you will view the personality of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa, who shouldered the responsibility of building such force without caring for the difficulties and defying all the obstacles that Britain used to place in his way, in addition to other local obstacles.
To perceive the thoughts of His Highness Sheikh Hamad while he was embarking on the formation of the defense force, we have to point out to the fact that His Highness Sheikh Hamad did not consider his status as the son of the Emir of the country and its Crown Prince as being enough to be on top of this force, but he also prepared himself intensively to be a professional soldier. He joined the Command and Staff College in Kansas and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington at the same time on the 21st of June 1971.
On May 31, 1972, His Highness was awarded the national diploma in military management and then graduated with distinction from the Command and Staff College on the 9th of June, 1973 to be a professional military soldier and a field soldier of Bahrain’s troops who have devoted themselves to Bahrain.
His Highness did not want the role of the military force to be limited to the field of training, shooting and direct military tasks, but he wanted it to play a developmental national role. Since its inception, it became a constant partner in the developmental achievements of the nation. To serve as a model for his soldiers and arms comrade, who started the joinery with him or who joined his gracious caravan, His Highness assumed several duties in addition to his military obligations. Through his interest in history in general and the history of the region and Bahrain in particular, he ordered to collect all the documents related to this history from different parts of the world, thus becoming the nucleus of the Center of Historical Documents, which His Highness ordered to establish in 1978.
His Highness expressed clear concerns in the generation of young people and he worked to find sponsoring programs for the youth; His Highness Sheikh Isa Bin Salman felt this interest in his Crown Prince. Therefore, he issued a royal decree in 1975 for the establishment of the Higher Council for Youth and entrusted its Presidency to His Highness Sheikh Hamad.
His Highness has also worked for the establishment of the state stable, which emphasizes his transparent interest in documenting the original horse species in Bahrain, in addition to his interest in knighthood. His Highness was also very interested in flying, for which he expressed high determination. In spite of all his numerous responsibilities, His Highness joined flying training courses and graduated on the 14th of January as a professional pilot. Thereafter, His Highness started establishing the Bahraini Air Defense Force.
His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa had the preliminary ideas and the first steps for the establishment of the Bahrain Center for Studies and Research, which voiced his faith in science, research and study; he himself had occupied the position of the chairman of the Center, participating in its activities and symposia, and paying special attention to them.
Since childhood, His Highness has believed that military power does not only lie in the combat exercises, but also lies in its science, knowledge, culture and technique, thus he expressed all these achievements and concerns that accompanied the development of the Defense Force. Strong Bahrain, as perceived by His Highness, is the educated, researcher, intellectual, young and developed.
On Saturday, the 16th of December 1973, Bahrain had officially and formally entered into the stage of the legislative institutions state. That day coincided with the opening session of the Constituent Council, which was attended by His Highness Shaikh Isa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa, His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, "the Crown Prince and Minister of Defense" along with their Highness and Excellency the Ministers, notables, Senates and guests from different brotherly and friendly countries.
The celebration started at 10:30 am with recitation from the Holy Koran, then His Highness the late Emir announced the inauguration of the Council saying: "In the name of God the Almighty and with His blessings I announce the opening of the Constituent Council that is entrusted with the drafting of the country's Constitution.”
The truth is that this Council was a pioneer in its role, and it achieved its duty to the fullest ...Perhaps it is appropriate to refer below to some deliberations witnessed by this Council to record for the people of Bahrain who did not live that stage, the nature of the prospects of democracy at that time:
In the beginning of January 1973, and during the deliberations of the Council on the Constitution issues, the "religious bloc" raised a controversial issue, i.e., the interpretation of the word "citizens", which appeared in many texts and articles of the Constitution. The bloc perceived that the word "citizens" must be confined only to males without females because it is not permissible for women to participate in public life and to have a role in the election and other issues.
After deliberations that sometimes witnessed high debates, ten members of the Council submitted a memorandum to the President of the Council in this regard and was recited by the Secretary of the Council; it stated: " the interpretation of item (e) of the first article of the draft Constitution has one clear interpretation as it states: “Citizens have the right to participate in public affairs, and enjoy political rights, beginning with the right to vote, in accordance with this Constitution and the terms and conditions stipulated in the law ..." This text is clear and explicit and does not imply any explanation contrary to what it aimed at.
This law targets all Bahrainis without discrimination or partiality and addresses Bahrainis only without talking to other citizens of other nations living in Bahrain, and who do not hold nationality. The text mentioned the term "citizens" and did not specify the sex of the citizen as happened when the Decree was issued under Law No. (13) for the year 1972 on the rules of electing the Constituent Council - item (a) of the first article, which states that every Bahraini male, who reached the age of twenty year old has the right to vote.
In spite of this clarity, and the facts cited in the memorandum of the ten members, the Council of Ministers needed to submit an explanatory note of some of the provisions of the Constitution of which item (e) of the first article to the Council members, at their 6th session held on the 2nd of January 1973.
It was clear that the Council is divided in its views and reasoning into two groups:
Group I: members were no more than six and they represented the religious fundamentalist trend led by Sheikh Isa Qassem and Mullahassan Zainuddin.
Group II: This was the trend of young people who tried to maintain the provisions and interpretations of the Constitution away from any sectarian or religious independent judgment. That trend included: Ali Al Saleh, Rasoul AlJashi, Jassem Murad, Abdel Aziz Shamlan, Abdul Aziz Rashid,Khalifa Al-Banali, Khalifa Al Manai, Ali Al Sayyar and Qassim Fakhro.
If we place the religious trend in the far right, then the trend of young "liberals" will be in the extreme left, therefore, the position of the government, represented by its respective ministers, will be in the middle between the two sides.
The meetings of the Council were successive and full of a lot of national dialogues and aspirations, though conflicting, in an atmosphere of freedom and democracy to ensure an opportunity for all to participate in drafting the country's Constitution. His Highness Sheikh Isa Bin Salman was watching what was happening with the sense of a guarantor and a guard of these freedoms. He was following up the negotiations of the members of the Council, the government and the people with great care, while His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman was participating in these dialogues with his experience, knowledge and unequaled ability to manage crises and direct its surge to serve the country and the people until the Constitution has been accomplished as a fundamental pillar of the State.