SHAFAQNA – Policemen entering a home, walking on broken glass shattered after a robbery. The home belongs to one of the diplomats in Washington. They hear a sound coming from inside, after following it they find an old woman in a room locked from outside. While taking her out, the diplomat arrives home and asks “What are you doing in my home?” One of the officers answers, “Is this your house, sir?” The diplomat says, “Yes”. The officer replies, “You’ve been robbed”. Meanwhile, another officer asks him, “What are you doing
holding this woman prisoner?” and he answers, “I am a diplomat of the Kingdom of Bahrain. I demand immunity.”
Episode thirteen of the Madam Secretary series, the new series screened on the American CBS channel last year in 2014 and whose first season has not finished yet starts with these scenes. This series has achieved high ratings. According to press releases, the series is considered the highest-rated series in the US with 14 million viewers.
The series stars the American actress Téa Leoni who plays “Elizabeth McCord”, a former employee in the CIA. The US President offers her the post of secretary after the death of the American secretary in a mysterious plane crash.
The Bahraini Diplomat and the Immunity
The series tackles the events taking place now worldwide. In some episodes the show addresses the ISIS and its threats to world peace in other ways. However, surprisingly one of “Madam Secretary” episodes discussed Bahrain and the ruling family.
The episode that was aired on January 11th, 2015, was attractive. One of the diplomats and son of the ruling family holds an Indonesian maid as hostage for three years in a well-locked room and confiscates her passport so that she can’t travel.
The series steered clear from using Al Khalifa as a name for the Bahraini ruling family and instead uses “Hassani” to avoid any prosecution it may be subjected to by the regime. Nonetheless, this name does not change the reality of the implications.
In the series, the Bahraini consul runs away and hides in Bahrain’s embassy. However, the secretary decides to refuse his diplomatic immunity although her counselors remind her of the US fleet and the base in Manama, which is considered a crucial geographic position between Iraq and Iran and whose maintenance and renovation have cost more than a billion dollars.
The diplomat tries to flee aboard a private plane heading to Qatar and not Bahrain, as a camouflage method to distract the US administration. The secretary decides to arrest him, being outside the Bahraini embassy building. Her counselors remind her here that this is a dangerous game that might put the US strategy in Gulf to danger for it depends basically on the American presence in Manama. The secretary takes no notice of this and decides to take the risk. Thus, the Bahraini diplomat is eventually arrested.
The Crown Prince is used to getting what he wants
The Bahraini Crown Prince arrives to Washington after the arrest of the diplomat. One of the secretary’s counselors present the Crown Prince as a liberal person who “owns more than 100 palaces where each of them is built in specific characteristics and owns yacht fleet, manufactured in limited amounts. When the Crown Prince wants to eat pizza, it is brought to him directly from Rome (capital of Italy),” commenting that the man (the Crown Prince) is used to getting what he wants. The secretary replies announcing that maybe what you are saying is true, but I know he is (very sensitive).
An admiral in the American army arrives to meet the secretary and asks her to release the Bahraini consular officer. The secretary refuses to release the diplomat. The admiral here reminds the secretary of the US base in Bahrain. The secretary answers that she is aware of the strategic post of the base there and its more than billion-dollar renovation. The admiral replies, “I want to remind you that this base is the linchpin to our defensive positions around Iraq and Iran to make sure that you don’t flush that down the drain.” The Secretary answers that the US’s linchpin is the respect of the priceless human rights, adding, “I’m willing to defend them over a military installation.” The admiral wishes that Bahrain does not retaliate or she will have to notify the president and then leaves the office.
The Crown Prince and the 56 Decree
The Crown Prince enters the secretary’s office and angrily talks to her, “you are detaining Bahrain’s consular officer and we cannot abide such an action.” The Secretary walks to hug him saying, “You sounded so official.” They laugh together and she says that they studied together in university. After a simple chat, the Crown Prince comes to the point, “I am in a bit of a tight spot. I need you to release the consul and reinstate full immunity.” The secretary replies, “I can’t reinstate the immunity to people who were never qualified for.” The Crown Prince tells her, “They are Bahraini diplomats. They cannot be treated like common criminals.” The Secretary refuses and reminds him, “Do you see how they treated their maid? It was despicable.” He claims, “This is an exceptional case.”
The secretary reminds him, “Have you forgotten the Royal Decree 56 that stipulates that states’ officials are immune from prosecution for human rights abuses in Bahrain?” He then says, “I don’t need human rights pointers from a country that imprisons Arabs in (Guantanamo) without legal recourse.”
The secretary says, “Okay, forget about the Royal Decree 56. We are in the United States. The consul broke over half a dozen laws and he is going to pay for it.” The Crown Prince wonders, “Without immunity? Your soldiers, your embassy employees may get dragged before Bahraini judges just for annoying our government.” She answers, “I know that’s not a real threat.” He says, “I am just saying I cannot guarantee there won’t be consequences for your actions in Bahrain.” She angrily asks him, “Who’s talking here now, you or your father? Use your influence against the conservatives in the government.” He replies, “I still maintain my own views.” She responds, “Then, stand up to your father. Make him accept our immunity waiver.” He promises her that he is going to talk to his father. She asks him about his father (the king) and he answers, “He is old. He is sick. He is nearing the end of his life.” The secretary feels sorry for that and says, “I hope it’s not true, but if it is, I take solace in the fact that a progressive, bold new leader will take his place,” referring to the Crown Prince and the future king whom she invites for dinner in her home.
The following day, the secretary is surprised to know that the Bahraini government had refused its immunity waiver request and instead promoted the consul to first secretary, which makes him now at a level that automatically guarantees immunity. Thus, the US government is forced to release him.
My rivals are just waiting for me to falter
The Crown Prince enters the secretary’s home for dinner and brings with him a fine bottle of wine. The secretary takes him to her own office and argues with him, “I am angry for you let a human rights abuser dodge justice.” He answers, “Okay, look, it is complicated. My father’s illness has destabilized my family’s grip on power. The opposition parties will take the matter as an excuse to call for new rule.” The secretary complains, “Oh, please. If you are going to screw me, at least have the respect of owning it without making excuses.” He answers, “I argued for trying the consul in America, but my father convinced me that promoting the consul would send a message to my people that I stand with Bahrain. My hands are tied. My father is on his deathbed and my rivals are just waiting for me to falter. Many people in my country loathe me for my Western education and my progressive beliefs. I will change things when I become a king. Just give me a chance to get there.” Then, she asks him, “Can I at least have your word that the consul will stand trial in Bahrain?” The Crown Prince does not utter a word but his looks show the “No”. The secretary condemns, ends the discussion and they head to the dinner table.
Your slaves might know
At the dinner table, the secretary’s young son asks the Crown Prince about the palace he owns, “How many bathrooms do you have in your palace? Do your children have pets? How many pets do you have?” The Crown Prince answers, “I don’t know.” The secretary’s father-in-law answers, “Your slaves might know.” The secretary’s husband disapproves his father’s behavior, but the Crown Prince says, “I am not so insulated that I’m unfamiliar with this critique.” The secretary’s father-in-law sarcastically replies, “Ah, a man of the people. It is too bad your wealth is built on the backs of the poor and oppressed. No wonder that diplomat treats his maid like a slave.” A quarrel happens among the gathered family members and ends quietly with everyone having dinner.
While leaving her house, the Secretary apologized to the Crown Prince. The young Crown Prince shows his understanding for what happened and she tries to convince him to make changes in his country reminding him of what he said during university days. He smiles, thanks her for the dinner and heads back to Bahrain.
When he spoke, he was killed
The secretary’s counselor comes to tell her to watch a live press conference for the Crown Prince on the television during which he threatens to try and prosecute the Bahraini consul, adding, “Now, to those countrymen who will reframe this course correction as dissent in my family, I say some dissent is good, especially when standing up for the right reasons.” Before the Crown Prince finished his words, he was shot and killed.
The secretary’s counselor and assistant enter her office while she was in a state of confusion. They tell her about the funeral’s date. She asks them if they knew the perpetrators of the assassination. The counselor responds that they are a radical opposition party and adds that the text of the speech was leaked a few hours before the press conference. During this, a civil servant comes to tell the secretary that her request to participate in the funeral has been denied by the Bahraini authorities and that she will have to stay in the back of the mosque with the women because only men are allowed to participate in the funeral procession. Another civil servant indicates that the Bahrainis are already holding up supply shipments related the US base to Bahrain.
The secretary decides to go to Bahrain in an unofficial visit to meet the king before the funeral procession. She arrives to the palace, meets the king and offers her condolences. The king, with the great sadness apparent on his face, thanks her and she tells him about her friendship with his son since university days. She heads back to America without attending the funeral service. When she arrives to Washington, the admiral tells her that Bahrain has started allowing their hold up shipments related to the base through Bahrain again.
Sources – Bahrain Mirror