Bahrain’s Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, probably the most global’s longest-serving top ministers who led his island country’s govt for many years and survived the 2011 Arab Spring protests that demanded his ouster over corruption allegations, died on Wednesday. He used to be 84.
Bahrain’s state-run information company introduced his demise, announcing he have been receiving remedy on the Mayo Clinic within the United States, with out elaborating. The Mayo Clinic didn’t right away reply to a request for remark.
Prince Khalifa’s energy and wealth might be observed in all places on this small country off the coast of Saudi Arabia house to the U.S. Navy’s fifth Fleet. His professional portrait hung for many years on partitions along the rustic’s ruler. He had his personal personal island the place he met international dignitaries, entire with a marina and a park that had peacocks and gazelle roam its grounds.
The prince represented an older taste of Gulf management, one who granted patronage and favors for beef up of the Sunni Al Khalifa circle of relatives. That taste could be challenged within the 2011 protests by means of the island’s Shiite majority and others, who demonstrated towards him over long-running corruption allegations surrounding his rule.
Though much less tough and frailer lately, his machinations nonetheless drew consideration within the kingdom as a brand new technology now jostles for energy.
“Khalifa bin Salman represented the old guard in more ways than just age and seniority,” mentioned Kristin Smith Diwan, a senior resident student on the Washington-based Arab Gulf States Institute. “He represented an old social understanding rooted in royal privilege and expressed through personal patronage.”
Prince Khalifa used to be born into the Al Khalifa dynasty that for greater than two centuries has dominated Bahrain, an island within the Persian Gulf whose title in Arabic manner the “two seas.” The son of Bahrain’s former ruler, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa who dominated from 1942 to 1961, the prince discovered governance at his father’s facet because the island remained a British protectorate.
Prince Khalifa’s brother, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, took energy in 1961 and served as monarch when Bahrain received its independence from Britain in 1971. Under an off-the-cuff association, Sheikh Isa treated the island’s international relations and ceremonial tasks whilst Prince Khalifa ran the federal government and financial system.
The years that adopted noticed Bahrain expand unexpectedly because it sought to transport past its dependence on dwindling oil reserves. Manama at the moment served as what Dubai within the United Arab Emirates in the long run was, a regional monetary, provider and tourism hub. The opening of the King Fahd Causeway in 1986 gave the island country its first land hyperlink with its wealthy and robust neighbor, Saudi Arabia, and introduced an get away for Westerners within the kingdom who sought after to revel in Bahrain’s alcohol-soaked nightclubs and seashores.
But Prince Khalifa an increasing number of noticed his title entangled in corruption allegations, equivalent to a big international corruption practices case towards aluminum manufacturer Alcoa over the use of a London-based intermediary to facilitate bribes for Bahraini officers. Alcoa agreed to pay $384 million in fines to the U.S. govt to settle the case in 2014.
The U.S. Embassy in Manama in a similar way had its personal suspicions about Prince Khalifa, writing in cables that the prince had “off-the-books access to income from the state-owned enterprises” such because the Bahrain Petroleum Co. and Aluminum Bahrain, the rustic’s aluminum manufacturer.
“I believe that Shaikh Khalifa is not wholly a negative influence,” former U.S. Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann in 2004 in a cable launched by means of WikiLeaks. “While certainly corrupt he has built much of modern Bahrain.”
Those corruption allegations fueled discontent, specifically amongst Bahrain’s Shiite majority who nonetheless these days whinge of discrimination by means of the federal government. In February 2011, protesters impressed by means of Arab Spring demonstrations around the Mideast crammed the streets and occupied the capital Manama’s Pearl Roundabout to call for political reforms and a better say within the nation’s long term.
While some known as for a constitutional monarchy, many others pressed for the elimination of the long-ruling top minister and different contributors of the Sunni royal circle of relatives altogether, together with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
At one level all through the peak of the unrest in March 2011, 1000’s of protesters besieged the top minister’s workplace whilst officers met inside of, difficult that Prince Khalifa step down over corruption allegations and an previous, fatal crackdown at the demonstrations. Protesters additionally took to waving one Bahraini dinar notes over allegations Prince Khalifa purchased the land on which Bahrain’s Financial Harbour construction sits for only a unmarried dinar.
Robert Gates, a former U.S. secretary of protection below President Barack Obama, wrote in his memoirs that he recommended the king on the time to pressure Prince Khalifa from the premiership, describing him as “disliked by nearly everyone but especially the Shia.”
Crown Prince “Salman said he was ready to become prime minister if asked and that the road map forward must include Shia representatives in the government,” Gates wrote. “Salman was, I thought, the voice of reason. Unfortunately, he was powerless.”
The crown prince additionally have been seeking to strip away Prince Khalifa’s keep watch over of Bahrain’s financial system for years prior, with the plain approval of King Hamad.
Bahraini officers quickly beaten the protests with the backing of troops from neighboring Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A central authority-sponsored record into the protests and crackdown later described safety forces beating detainees and forcing them to kiss footage of King Hamad and Prince Khalifa.
Low-level unrest persisted within the years that adopted, with Shiite protesters ceaselessly clashing with rebel police. Shiite militant teams, whom Bahrain’s govt allege obtain beef up from Iran, planted bombs that killed and wounded a number of contributors of the rustic’s safety forces.
But whilst different hard-line contributors of the Al Khalifa circle of relatives actively driven for a war of words with Shiites, Prince Khalifa maintained contacts with the ones the federal government hostile. Even along with his affect waning, he known as Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in 2019 all through the holy month of Ramadan in spite of Bahrain being one in every of 4 Arab international locations boycotting Doha in a political dispute.
“Khalifa bin Salman could and did work with both Sunni and Shia, especially through his relations with Bahrain’s business community,” Diwan mentioned. “He brought this same personalistic approach to relations with other Gulf monarchs, and was genuinely uncomfortable with the new politics exemplified by coarse attacks on the Qatari leadership.”
Slowly regardless that, Prince Khalifa’s affect waned as he confronted unexplained well being issues. He used to be admitted to health center in November 2015 however used to be later launched. He additionally traveled to southeast Asia for scientific appointments. In overdue November 2019, he traveled to Germany for undisclosed scientific remedies, closing there for months.
Prince Khalifa used to be married and has 3 surviving youngsters, sons Ali and Salman and daughter Lulwa. Another son, Mohammed, died in the past.