November 19, 2011 His Majesty’s advisor for Diplomatic Affairs and Bahrain Centre for Strategic and International Studies and Energy Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar took part in MEDays 2011 International Forum, which consisted of an elite group of politicians, experts and consultants from all over the world. In a speech delivered under the theme “the USA and the Arab World”, Dr. Abdul Ghaffar lauded His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s high national awareness of the importance of political development and reform since he became the leader of Bahrain in 1999. He said the royal reform project started by setting up a panel of 100 members to discuss the National Action Charter which received 98.4 % of the popular vote. Shortly afterwards, the principles of the National Action Charter were immediately put into effect by declaring the constitution, holding the municipal and parliamentary elections and setting up institutions to back freedom of expression and support the democratic process. Regarding the incidents which gripped Bahrain last February and March, Dr. Abdul Ghaffar explained how the actions of some extremist groups in Bahrain, which started on February 14, 2011, have cast a doubt that there was a link between these groups and a foreign political agenda. “The events later showed that these groups deliberately tried to create chaos to serve the interests of foreign parties,” he said. “Because this unrest happened after the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, it is regrettable to depict protests in Bahrain as liberal and democratic movements similar to the revolutions which occurred in some Arab countries,” he added pointing out that most Bahrainis have been aware since the outbreak of the unfortunate events in the kingdom of their regional aspect and the foreign agenda behind them. Dr. Abdul Ghaffar cited in this regard the recent discovery of a terror cell on Nov. 13, 2011 that was plotting to carry out terror acts in Bahrain and whose members were arrested by the Qatari security forces. “The motives which ignited protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other countries are incompatible with Bahrain’s case. Yet, some political societies raised slogans similar to what people in other Arab countries called for like achieving social justice, improving the living standard and providing job opportunities. However, these political societies failed to prove their credibility in justifying the protest movement in Bahrain,” Dr. Abdul Ghaffar emphasized citing low unemployment rates in Bahrain (3.3% to 4.1% from 2008 to 2011) compared to even advanced countries like the USA (10.4%), Britain (8.1%), France (10.4%) and Germany (8.1%), according to statistics released by the International Labour Organization. “Therefore, to say that unemployment was the main catalyst of the recent unrest in the kingdom or one of the reasons for the protests is in divergence with the reality.” Dr. Abdul Ghaffar also explained that regarding the individual’s income, Bahrain is classified among countries with a high economic development rate with a general trend towards welfare thanks to the availability of security networks like subsidization of basic commodities such as meat and fuel, supporting people with special needs and restoration and reconstruction of dilapidated houses. Bahrain has no sign of abject poverty. “Because of their weak pretexts and no popular background, the extremist groups have shown an inclination towards violence and sabotage in an attempt to mar the reform process the kingdom has embarked on since 1999,” he said.