Today the Bahraini newspaper Al-Ayam reported a bizarre statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) . The statement* detailed how ruling family member Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman bin Saqer Al Khalifa (believed to be @mnarfezhom on Twitter) entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and assaulted one of its employees (Nayif Abdul Hamid Al Kuwaiti). The MOFA statement also detailed how Sheikh Mohammed threatened Nayif with a gun. Given the royal family’s dislike of criticism (read disloyalty/treachery), the newspaper and the ministry hurriedly withdrew the article. Fortunately, however, some diligent tweeps took a screen cap, and below is a rather hasty translation.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounces the serious assault carried out by Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman bin Saqer Al Khalifa on one of its employees – Nayif Abdul Hamid Al Kuwaiti. In addition to defaming and insulting the victim, Sheikh Mohammed also threatened Nayif with a gun. The ministry also condemns the fact that Sheikh Mohammed entered the building and reached the victim’s office without receiving proper permission.
On Wednesday 2nd January, Mohammed infiltrated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and entered one of the offices on the premise that he would like to obtain a letter issued by the ministry to assist him in getting a visa for one of his relatives in an embassy of a friendly nation. In the meantime, he began asking about Nayif, and managed to lure him into a special room used for greeting guests. Here he began to assault Nayif and swear at him, saying that he knew where he drank coffee. He also threatened to shoot him and said that he would, in his capacity as a member of the royal family, have him fired from the ministry. This occurred after the two had argued on Twitter.
Without wanting to speculate too much, the motivations for this assault seem to stem from a dispute Mnarfezhom had with members of the National Unity Assembly, one of whom threatened to sue Mnarefezhom for defamation.
Whether or not Mnarfezhom is Sheikh Mohammed is yet to be revealed, though what is interesting is that a member of the ruling family abused his status and privilege and threatened an employee in a government office. Given that the Al Khalifas are loathe to subject themselves to public scrutiny or condemnation, it will be interesting to see how the regime react. I imagine they do not want to draw much attention to it, which perhaps explains why the statement was withdrawn. Having said that, the MOFA actually named Sheikh Mohammed in their statement, which might contravene Bahraini law. Either way, it will be interesting to see how this pans out, especially now some people are seeing it as an example of ‘ infighting’ among those more sympathetic to the regime.
*Mofa Statement in Arabic