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Bahrain TV plays tapes showing Qatar’s role in 2011 crisis

Taped conversations indicate coordination, links between Qatar and Bahrain opposition figures

Image Credit: Supplied
TV grab from the implicating telephone conversation.
Gulf News

Dubai: Qatar’s direct implication in the dramatic crisis that unfolded in Bahrain in 2011 has been revealed in a recorded phone conversation.

According to the taped talks, high figures close to the Emir of Qatar at the time had a prominent role in inciting people against the regime in Bahrain and communicated directly with Al Wefaq, the now-dissolved society that was then the largest in the country.

The information collected and published by Bahraini daily Al Ayam on Saturday showed that Hamad Khalifa Al Attiyah, a private counsellor to the Emir of Qatar, led on a daily basis the conversations with Al Wefaq, particularly former lawmaker Hassan Ali Sultan.

Sultan had his citizenship revoked and is now living abroad.

According to the information, Al Attiyah conveyed to the leaders of Al Wefaq and other factions opposed to Bahrain the directives and instructions of Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Al Thani, then Qatar’s Prime Minister.

Al Attiyah at one time suggested he would come to Bahrain to meet the leaders of Al Wefaq, including Eisa Qassem, the society’s spiritual leader. He also put forward a proposal that Qatar’s prime minister come personally to Bahrain.

The information indicated that Qatar was ready and willing to fulfil all the requirements and needs of the elements opposed to Bahrain in order to ensure that the protests and the fuelling of the situation in the kingdom continues.

According to the information, Qatar sent only two officers to participate with the forces of the Peninsula Shield, the military arm of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), to carry out acts of espionage on the troops and their movements. The intelligence agents were also tasked with conveying details about the situation in Bahrain to the leaders of Qatar.

Al Attiyah was reportedly seeking information and pictures about the events in Bahrain and former MP Sultan supplied the names of Khalil Marzooq, a former lawmaker from Al Wefaq, and Taher Al Mousawi, a member of Al Wefaq media team, to carry out the task.

Al Attiyah also coordinated efforts between leaders from Al Wefaq and Qatar TV Channel Al Jazeera to incite against Bahrain and asked for special arrangements to ensure contacts between the channels and people opposed to Bahrain.

In some instance, Al Attiyah requested intelligence information about Bahrain Defence Force as well as about villages facing issues in Bahrain and the fate of the talks between Ali Salman, the head of Al Wefaq, with the government.

According to the information, Qatar’s emir had a great role in inciting leaders from Al Wefaq to turn down the dialogue, sow sedition and use the “unfairness to Shiites” card against the state.

Al Attiyah’s arm reportedly reached Kuwait where he had contacts with an Arab journalist with sympathies for Al Wefaq who used to be accredited in Bahrain.

Al Attiyah arranged through the journalist to receive former Al Wefaq lawmaker Ali Assouad who was conveying a message from Ali Salman to Shaikh Hamad Bin Thamer.

No details were available about the contents of the message.

Bahrain Television on Friday evening broadcasted conversations held in March 2011 between Al Attiyah and Sultan, including a conversation about causing chaos in Bahrain and beaming it on Al Jazeera.

Sultan is one of the leaders of Al Dawah Party that had an incitement role in the mid-1990s. He became a lawmaker, but fled Bahrain in 2011 for Lebanon to avoid being arrested.

He is reportedly now in Lebanon under the protection of Hezbollah and often visits Iraq. He receives money that he spends on wanted Bahrainis who had fled the kingdom.

He is a member of the now-dissolved Al Wefaq society, a regular guest at the talk shows hosted by Al Jazeera.

Telephone conversations

This is an English translation of transcript of four telephone conversations that took place during March 2011 between the Qatari Amir’s Adviser Hamad Khalifa Al Attiyah (HA) and Hassan Ali Sultan (PA) conspiring together during the 2011 crisis in Bahrain. PA is personal assistant to Al Attiyah

FIRST PHONE CALL

HA: Assalamu Alaikum

PA: Assalamu Alaikum

HA: Wa Alaikum Alsalam, Good Afternoon Shaikh

PA: Just a minute, I shall pass the mobile to the Shaikh

HA: Go ahead

HS: Shaikh Hassan, I am with you. Assalamu Alaikum,

HA: Wa Alaikum Alsalam Shaikh

HS: Cordial hellos Abu Khalifa

HA: I am sorry I had called you on the other line and nobody picked up.

HS: Bu Khalifa, Please go ahead, direct me,

HA: May no enemy give you orders. I have inquired about the Peninsula Shield and there was no Qatari participation. There are only two Qatari officers in the role of observers as per the Peninsula Shield bylaws that we have to abide by. This time we took reservations to avoid participating with troops.

HS: Yes but there are two officers from Qatar.

HA: Yes there are two observer officers from Qatar as we are obliged to comply with.

HS: Sir, Abu Khalifa, right now the people are dealing with and will deal with these forces as occupying forces. I hope you take this into consideration.

HA: Shaikh, I am with what you are saying and I am not meant to say this to you but we in Qatar have our reservations due to the brotherly ties with you. You know, the Peninsula Shield bylaws stipulate that we participate. We tried not to allow the situation to develop in order for us not to send forces, troops nor send an air force.

HS: Sir, Sir, I am not fully aware of the bylaws, but today the Kuwaiti Parliament has a problem. It will be raising an inquisition into the matter and will take it up with the government.

HA: I am with you Shaikh, this is reality. But tell me now. What is the message you want me to convey to the prime minister before he goes out. Or would you like to call me after a short while.

HS: Abu Khalifa, give me 30-45 minutes because you know this issue isn’t the easiest. The opposition is in meetings. The inner-house is in meetings. It needs spinning. If something is spun, I shall call you Abu Khalifa.

HA: I will wait for a call from you in any minute.

HS: Thank you. Thank you.

HA: If something is formulated, tomorrow after the prime minster together with Saud Al Faisal sit with the king, I will come accordingly, if need be, to visit you or see Shaikh Eisa (Qassim) after I see what they reach to with the King or the government.

HS: This is an honour Abu Khalifa. Even if you are asked who you want to visit, myself or the prime minister, you visit them there. Whatever works for you.

HA: Your face is an honour to us, or His Excellency Shaikh Hamad, we are at your service. This is your country. We are your guests and this land is yours.

HS: I have no doubt. Rest assured. Pass my regards to Shaikh Eisa.

SECOND PHONE CALL

HA: Assalmu Alaikum Shaikh

HS: Abu Khalifa How are you? May God grant you a long life! Of course, you are following the developments.

HA: Yes of course.

HS: I am talking with you Abu Khalifa based on your request that I inform you of any new information regarding the police forces and the declaration of national emergency. We expect the flow of blood.

HA: Yes, I will immediately carry this story on Al Jazeera. We have no problem to put this out now.

HS: Our message is that what is happening today is with the blessing of the Gulf states.

HA: I need to know — What are the villages that are facing problems?

HS: All of them, all villages, right now, there is no protection for Shiites in Bahrain. And we have taken this up with our religious leadership in Najaf, Qom and Lebanon. It’s over. There is no political protection or other for what is happening. There is an Al Khalifa rape.

HA: OK my question is, it is the afternoon, outside there are thugs or military personnel or police or what exactly.

HS: The thugs are the forces. They have weapons and are trolling the villages wearing civilian clothing. After the declaration, the army has been deployed. I can see this in front of me. I am standing in our head quarters and watching. The security forces as a third element are conducting the same role.

HA: Who is the person in Al Jazeera to get in touch with to get this information?

HS: Mmmmm,

HA: Shall I get them to call you and use an alias?

HS: No problem, I just need two minutes to prepare the issue, Abu Khalifa.

HA: Get back to me in a few minutes.

HS: Immediately. I will get back to you.

THIRD PHONE CALL

HS: Salam Abu Khalifa

HA: Hello

HS: The number of the person who can speak to Al Jazeera is MP Khalil Al Marzooq who was the First Deputy of the House of Representatives. If you want anybody else, but preferably him. Right now he is at a meeting at the American embassy so you won’t be able to reach him. Take his number.

HA: What is his number

HS: 36xxxxx

HA: Look, we will have a different position and we have no qualms. But we want cooperation, solid information and descriptive. We don’t want to appear, in front of the public, to have been hasty in our decision.

HS: No worries.

HA: We ask that everything is documented visually and dated.

HS: We are ready.

HA: I will organise it through you. I shall call you after a while.

FOURTH PHONE CALL

HS: Salam Abu Khalifa

HA: Hello

HS: Take this number of the fellow who will provide you with details and information. Take his number for you to get details from or even for the TV Channel. He can provide them with real time details and footage. Everything is documented. 3xxxxxxx

HA: 96 at the end? Oh this is the number without the code. That is 973 I have that already.

HS: Yes, his name is Sayed Taher.

HA: Should we call Saif? or call Khalil?

HS: Call Taher Al Moosawi now.

HA: Saif Taher?

HS: Sayed Taher Al Moosawi. He is a journalist. He has very accurate information and can pass it on.

HA: OK, I will give you our strategy.

HS: Thank you

HA: Bye

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