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Cablegate: Ndi Succeeds in Giving Bahrain's Youth The

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS MANAMA 001204

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ARP
LONDON FOR ETHAN GOLDRICH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PHUM KMPI BA
SUBJECT: NDI SUCCEEDS IN GIVING BAHRAIN'S YOUTH THE
OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS

1. (U) SUMMARY: The MEPI-funded National Democratic Institute
(NDI) succeeded in promoting political participation by
organizing Bahrain's first-ever Youth Forum. Approximately
50 percent of Bahrain's population is under 30 years of age,
and as such, Bahrain's democratic reform depends on the
inclusion and participation of its youth in the political
process. This forum gave Bahrain's youth the opportunity to
directly engage Bahrain's leadership on issues relevant to
its generation. Topping the list of issues was the failure
of meaningful dialogue between opposition societies and the
GOB. Other salient issues included unemployment,
discrimination, transparency, low wages and housing.
Interest was signified by the level of participation. NDI
invited 100 members of political and social societies and
over 300 showed up. Enthusiasm has generated a desire to
pursue similar events in the future. NDI is 'on message' by
organizing events such as these and helping young adults
develop into agents of change. Post recommends that MEPI
support future events such as this forum. END SUMMARY.

------------
FORUM FORMAT
------------

2. (U) The July 18 "Cafe Dialogue" was held at Bahrain's SAS
Radisson Hotel. The young adult participants (ages 18-30)
were divided into 'cafes' and given 90 minutes to determine
issues relevant to Bahrain's youth. Cafe leaders summarized
the discussions and presented them to the "elders"--members
of Parliament, religious societies, NGOs, media and GOB
officials.

----------------
YOUTHS' CONCERNS
----------------

3. (U) In his opening speech, President of the Bahrain Youth
Forum Society Hussain Al Eskafi said that Bahrain is full of
young people but no one is willing to listen to them. The
young participants considered the national dialogue between
the opposition and the GOB on constitutional issues a
failure, citing little impact on the GOB's decision making.
They pointed to sectarian disunity, control by the elite, and
the absence of true popular support for the dialogue as
contributing to this failure. In addition to the
constitutional issue, cafe leaders ranked the following
issues in order of importance: naturalization, unemployment,
discrimination, low wages, corruption (administrative and
financial) and housing. President of Al Shabiba Youth
Society Hussain Al Hulaibi added that political societies
need to make more of an effort to engage youth and grant them
a political role. The Bahrain Youth Forum Society plans to
host quarterly forums in the future to continue political
discussions and coalesce ideas for the purpose of political
participation.

--------------------------
STATEMENTS VERSUS DIALOGUE
--------------------------

4. (U) To represent the leadership, NDI attracted prominent
Bahrainis representing the full political spectrum. These
included Second Deputy Chairman of the Council of
Representatives Shaikh Adel Al Moawda, Vice President of Al
Wefaq National Islamic Society Shaikh Hassan Mushaima,
President of the National Democratic Action Society (NDAS)
Abdul Rahman Al Noaimi, Shura Council member Ibraheem
Bashmia, and columnist Sameera Rajab. With the exception of
MP Shaikh Adel Moawda, who stated that "any dialogue is
better than no dialogue at all," statements made by the
"elders" did not directly address concerns presented by the
younger participants. They preferred to restate their
standard platforms.

5. (U) COMMENT: Even though the forum did not result in a
full exchange between young and old, this event proved a
significant start in the right direction. A primary goal of
MEPI is advocating the expansion of political participation.
The outstanding reputation of NDI's programs and NDI's
engagement with opposition society members, NGOs, the
Municipal Council, the Shura Council and the elected Council
of Representatives, helped draw over 300 participants. Post
encourages NEA/PI to continue to fund NDI to support the
development of political participation and similar forums in
Bahrain. END COMMENT.
ZIADEH

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