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Tajnees - Recruiting loyal subjects in Bahrain

Khalaf, Abdulhadi LU (2010) World Congress on Middle Eastern Studies In [Host publication title missing]
Abstract
This paper is part of an ongoing research on the trajectory of rhetoric of political reforms in Bahrain during the past 10-years of reign by king Hamad bin Isa. Within less than two years of his reign, the king abandoned his wide ranging blueprints for political and institutional reforms designed to end to a decade-long civil unrest.

I argue that the king continues to use, albeit more creatively, several of the instruments of rule employed by the authoritarian regime of his father. One of these instruments is reliance on naturalization, tajnees to achieve a variety of demographic, political and social objectives.

Following his accession to throne in March 1999, King Hamad bin Isa exercised this right to grant... (More)
This paper is part of an ongoing research on the trajectory of rhetoric of political reforms in Bahrain during the past 10-years of reign by king Hamad bin Isa. Within less than two years of his reign, the king abandoned his wide ranging blueprints for political and institutional reforms designed to end to a decade-long civil unrest.

I argue that the king continues to use, albeit more creatively, several of the instruments of rule employed by the authoritarian regime of his father. One of these instruments is reliance on naturalization, tajnees to achieve a variety of demographic, political and social objectives.

Following his accession to throne in March 1999, King Hamad bin Isa exercised this right to grant citizenship, en masse, to several hundreds of bidoons. The move was heartily hailed by various political groupings in the country.

The legal procedures of naturalization are clearly specified in Bahraini’s constitution and laws. These include living continuously in the country for at least 15 years. However, the monarch has a discretionary power to grant citizenship to persons who do not meet the specified requirements.

Since 1999, the process of tajnees has expanded through generous reliance on the royal discretionary power to grant citizenship. The number of Bahraini citizens rose from some 409,619 in 2001 to 527,433 in 2007. Beneficiaries of tajnees include people who are not even resident of the country. Critics of tajnees allege that the process as an abuse of the king’s constitutional privileges. They also note that the process of tajnees lacks transparency and is carried out without proper parliamentary insight.

Several sets objectives are cited by critics of the current forms of tajnees in Bahrain. They allege that the regime hopes to alter the demographic structure of the country, a claim that explains why most beneficiaries of the royal tajnees are Sunnis hailing from Baluchistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen¬. En masse naturalization provides the regime with a demographic pool for recruiting personnel to man the expanding Bahrain’s military and security apparatuses. The availability of this pool of loyal citizens would allow the regime to maintain the current ban on Shia joining these services. Another criticism of tajnees refers to the electoral considerations which encourage the regime to enfranchise categories of residents and non-residents of the country in order to help pro-regime groups to prevail in parliamentary and municipal elections.



Further, I contend that the current forms of tajnees could lead to institutionalizing ’differentiated citizenship’, where rights and entitlements are allocated on the basis of group characteristics backgrounds and loyalty to the king. While differentiated citizenship may be advantageous instrument of authoritarian rule, it is highly risky and could generate problems of its own. In the long term, differentiated citizenship increases constrains against social integration. It also limits incentives to cultivate national cohesion as it links citizenship rights and entitlement to belonging to one or the other of the citizenship categories. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
submitted
subject
keywords
Bahrain, sociology, naturalization, conflict, citizenship
in
[Host publication title missing]
pages
10 pages
publisher
World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies
conference name
World Congress on Middle Eastern Studies
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
3f52a398-800d-4255-b5ce-ec0729b5f3dc (old id 1762770)
date added to LUP
2011-01-26 13:51:42
date last changed
2016-04-16 08:00:36
@misc{3f52a398-800d-4255-b5ce-ec0729b5f3dc,
  abstract     = {This paper is part of an ongoing research on the trajectory of rhetoric of political reforms in Bahrain during the past 10-years of reign by king Hamad bin Isa. Within less than two years of his reign, the king abandoned his wide ranging blueprints for political and institutional reforms designed to end to a decade-long civil unrest. <br/><br>
I argue that the king continues to use, albeit more creatively, several of the instruments of rule employed by the authoritarian regime of his father. One of these instruments is reliance on naturalization, tajnees to achieve a variety of demographic, political and social objectives. <br/><br>
Following his accession to throne in March 1999, King Hamad bin Isa exercised this right to grant citizenship, en masse, to several hundreds of bidoons. The move was heartily hailed by various political groupings in the country. <br/><br>
The legal procedures of naturalization are clearly specified in Bahraini’s constitution and laws. These include living continuously in the country for at least 15 years. However, the monarch has a discretionary power to grant citizenship to persons who do not meet the specified requirements. <br/><br>
Since 1999, the process of tajnees has expanded through generous reliance on the royal discretionary power to grant citizenship. The number of Bahraini citizens rose from some 409,619 in 2001 to 527,433 in 2007. Beneficiaries of tajnees include people who are not even resident of the country. Critics of tajnees allege that the process as an abuse of the king’s constitutional privileges. They also note that the process of tajnees lacks transparency and is carried out without proper parliamentary insight. <br/><br>
Several sets objectives are cited by critics of the current forms of tajnees in Bahrain. They allege that the regime hopes to alter the demographic structure of the country, a claim that explains why most beneficiaries of the royal tajnees are Sunnis hailing from Baluchistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen¬. En masse naturalization provides the regime with a demographic pool for recruiting personnel to man the expanding Bahrain’s military and security apparatuses. The availability of this pool of loyal citizens would allow the regime to maintain the current ban on Shia joining these services. Another criticism of tajnees refers to the electoral considerations which encourage the regime to enfranchise categories of residents and non-residents of the country in order to help pro-regime groups to prevail in parliamentary and municipal elections.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Further, I contend that the current forms of tajnees could lead to institutionalizing ’differentiated citizenship’, where rights and entitlements are allocated on the basis of group characteristics backgrounds and loyalty to the king. While differentiated citizenship may be advantageous instrument of authoritarian rule, it is highly risky and could generate problems of its own. In the long term, differentiated citizenship increases constrains against social integration. It also limits incentives to cultivate national cohesion as it links citizenship rights and entitlement to belonging to one or the other of the citizenship categories.},
  author       = {Khalaf, Abdulhadi},
  keyword      = {Bahrain,sociology,naturalization,conflict,citizenship},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {10},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0xae15e38)},
  series       = {[Host publication title missing]},
  title        = {Tajnees - Recruiting loyal subjects in Bahrain},
  year         = {2010},
}