Dubai: The role of Qatar in promoting strategies and tactics and training people on changing political regimes in countries in the region was highlighted by two Bahrainis in a programme aired by Bahrain Television on Monday evening.
Yousuf Albinkhalil, the editor of chief of Bahraini daily Al Watan, and Abdul Aziz Matar said they enrolled in a workshop at the Academy of Change headquartered in the Austrian capital Vienna.
They said that their trip, stay and sessions had been financially supported through a bank in Qatar.
The training focused on the use of non-violent means and soft power spread chaos and undermine the stability of the state under the claims of peaceful activism, Albinkhalil said.
“We were assured that if we were arrested, public opinion would be stirred against Bahrain, which indicates the presence of a calculated media campaign,” he said.
The two men explained that the major aim for the academy was to topple the political regime in Saudi Arabia, to be followed by Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
Young Saudi women were among those recruited by the academy as part of the plots targeting Saudi Arabia, Albinkhalil added.
“We concluded that the academy was not really interested in who takes power in the countries they destroy. They did not care whether extremist groups or parties assumed power and focused on the regime change and on weakening the state and its structure,” he said.
He added that the organisation carried out studies on the relationship between Sunnis and Shiites in Bahrain, incited against Bahraini-Saudi relations and embraced violence against Saudi citizens.
“The three men in charge of the academy, Hisham Mursi, Ahmad Adel and Wael Adel, insisted that the theories promoted during the workshops and sessions were scientific knowledge based on several studies about violence,” Albinkhalil said.
A Reuters report in 2011 said the three men had all left Egypt for jobs in London.
“The trio of thinkers had morphed into an organisation called the Academy of Change—based in London and ultimately moving to Qatar. The Academy became a window for Egypt’s activists into civil disobedience movements outside the Arab world.”
In his account, Matar said that he was trained at the academy on the tactics to influence public opinion to push for regime change and that the training included setting up fake scenarios and using special video and photography techniques to present them from a specific angle.
A rights activist, Salman Nasser, doubted the objectivity and neutrality of human rights organisations, saying that 102 reports were issued about Bahrain in 2015, compared with 60 about Palestine, 45 about Iraq and 41 about Iran.
One clip inserted in the programme showed Palestinian former member of the Israeli Knesset, Azmi Bishara, affirming that casualties were a normal occurrence in protests, a clear indication that blood was needed to incite public opinion.