Dubai The incidents that have hit Bahrain are a coup attempt supported by foreign forces, the Commander-in-Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF), Field Marshal Shaikh Khalifa Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, said on the anniversary of anti-government protests that swept the country last year.
In an interview with local Arabic daily Al Ayam, Shaikh Khalifa said that 22 NGOs have been plotting against Bahrain.
“Nineteen of them are based in the US and three in a Gulf country,” he said, without naming the Gulf state.
“They are all operated, funded and trained by the US and the Gulf country. When we confronted officials from both countries with facts and information that we have gathered lately, they distanced themselves from them, claiming they were civil society organisations,” he said.
According to the senior military commander, the media onslaught on Bahrain had been planned for a long time.
'Savage media assault'
“Arabs in the past believed that wars always started with words, and we today say that wars start and end with words. The savage media assault on Bahrain had been planned for a long time and five countries and three terrorist organisations were involved in this media war against us,” he said.
“In their conspiracy against the regime in Bahrain, they provided large funds and mobilised people from intelligence services, the military, the media, the press, media agencies and satellite channels. They all conspired against Bahrain at a time when we were regretfully unaware of what was happening. We did not expect such a carefully prepared plot to target Bahrain. Thank God, we were able to foil their plot,” Shaikh Khalifa said.
The conspiracy against Bahrain was not confined to the NGOs.
“There are other countries that mobilised their media, embassies, agents and fifth columns in the Gulf. It was not easy and we are still recuperating. We need time to acquire more experience before we confront them through the media.”
Shaikh Khalifa said that another form of pressure had been exerted on Bahrain by several countries, he said. “There are seven countries that have been assuming various roles to put pressure on Bahrain through imposing bans on the sale of security and defence equipment that could be used by the anti-riots police,” he said.
“They are the US, Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Belgium. The ban is still in place, but it had no effect on Bahrain because we knew how to handle it and we diversified the sources of our equipment.”
The field marshal who was given a special role when the state of national safety was declared in March after four weeks of protests, said that he confronted some military officers about their pressure on Bahrain.
“I called a senior British officer and told him that the days when you had an empire where the sun never sets were over. I asked him how Britain would have reacted if it had had the same incidents as Bahrain and he told me that it would have done exactly the same thing as Bahrain. He said that the decision was political and he had nothing to do with it. I told him that we would impose a ban on dealing with British planes, ships and military personnel in Bahrain if the ban on Bahrain was not lifted within two weeks. We do not need to import anything from them, but it is a matter of principle,” he said.
The British ban was lifted after one month, but the other countries have kept theirs, he said.
“I am not a diplomat and they appreciate only such attitudes. They still think we rely on them. This is a lesson for our brothers in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The crisis we have lived has taught us many things, and we have to be aware that these countries are unreliable even though we import all our weapons from them. The world is wide open today and there are many countries, such as Russia and China that have good weapons that can replace those from other countries,” he said.
Shaikh Khalifa said that the acts of sabotage that have hit Bahrain did not pose any security threats.
“What is left of the groups is finished politically and on the field. They are in their last moments and cannot represent any threat to Bahrain,” he said.
“I reiterate my words: If you go back, we will be there for you. We are ready to deal with any escalation and if the police cannot control the situation. The police are today ready to deal with ease with any situation using the least means of defence and protection. If need be, the National Guard is fully ready and is thoroughly trained. If the problem persists, we are ready and so are our brothers in the Gulf Cooperation Council to deal with any external threats,” he said.
People should be sensible and seize the numerous opportunities offered by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa, he added.