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Political posturing?

The spirit of a real dialogue depends on the political will of the opposition.

The eighth Manama Dialogue, a security conference hosted by International Institute for Strategic Studies concluded on a high note of hope.

After navigating the security situation of the volatile Middle East - transfixed by the drama of revolts and revolutions - experts discussed current security threats and future challenges.

They exhausted all possibilities for peaceful political settlements in areas of conflict, including Bahrain.

At the opening session, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, made an impassioned speech, reiterating his stand that dialogue is the only way forward for a peaceful settlement and called on the opposition to come to the negotiating table.

All participants threw their weight behind his call. It was not the first time he has invited opposition groups to a dialogue. On March 13 last year, he presented a seven-point agenda as a guide to a national dialogue, including a parliament with full authority, fair voting districts and other measures that reflect the will of the people.

It received a lackadaisical response from the opposition, and was ignored when protesters began to blockade financial areas in Manama. This created a chain reaction of events leading to a security vacuum, social disorder and chaos and shattered the hope of national reconciliation.

Why did opposition groups reject his previous call and accept it now as if it is a new move by the government? Have they run out of adrenaline, or has the crescendo of 'revolution' declined? The answers to these questions will determine the outcome of the dialogue opposition groups have accepted. Whether it is yet another political machination or real interest to solve the stalemate, is yet to be seen.

The call for dialogue is not new and the doors will remain open for those with open minds. What is needed is for opposition groups to adjust their position and disentangle themselves from alleged foreign influence and sectarian sentiments.

However, given their posture and their failure to denounce the ongoing violence and religious preachers' involvement in political affairs, there remains little room for hope for a successful dialogue. Abu Mohammed



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