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Bahrain explodes (part two)
March 15, 2011 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Government of Bahrain declares state of emergency. Mixture of Saudi, UAE, and other GCC troops enter Bahrain upon invitation.

Bahrain declares state of emergency (LA Times):
Reporting from Manama, Bahrain Bahrain's king declared a three-month state of emergency Tuesday in an effort to quell a month-old uprising as rival groups of protesters and gangs set up more checkpoints around the capital.

The move by King Hamed ibn Isa Khalifa appeared to amount to a declaration of martial law the day after hundreds of troops and police from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates poured into Bahrain with the support of the government after worsening violence paralyzed Manama, the capital, in recent days.
Why there'll be no no-fly-zone over Bahrain (positive spin):
But the advocates of action haven't yet focused on Bahrain, where Saudi troops have been called to support the government. Of course, there are huge differences. Col Gaddafi has already killed a lot of his own people. The Bahraini authorities swing between tolerating and repressing opponents but there's been no massacre, no murderous attacks on protesters. This is a series of demonstrations, not a civil war. But presumably the Saudi troops aren't there to help enforce traffic regulations.
We won't trouble Saudi's tyrants with calls to reform while we crave their oil (George Monbiot, Guardian):
Did you hear it? The clamour from western governments for democracy in Saudi Arabia? The howls of outrage from the White House and No 10 about the shootings on Thursday, the suppression of protests on Friday, the arrival of Saudi troops in Bahrain on Monday? No? Nor did I.

Did we miss it, or do they believe that change is less necessary in Saudi Arabia than it is in Libya? If so, on what grounds? The democracy index published by the Economist Intelligence Unit places Libya 158th out of 167, and Saudi Arabia 160th. At least in Libya, for all the cruelties of that regime, women are not officially treated as lepers were in medieval Europe.
Bahrain School, the US Department of Defence sponsored and staffed school, is closed. St. Christopher's School, the major British curriculum school in Bahrain, is closed. Protesters have successfully surrounded and isolated the financial district.

I'm in touch with my family, who live in Bahrain, and they've told me that a large number of foreigners have left or are attempting to leave the country; this exodus doesn't appear in any foreign media reports, but is understandable.

previously
posted by asymptotic (41 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Clashes sweep Bahrain as king declares emergency (AP wire):
Tuesday's worst confrontations took place on the Bahraini island of Sitra.

A 24-year-old protester, Ahmed Farhan, was shot in the head and killed, said Dr. Ibrahim Youssef, a member of the medical team at the Sitra Health Center. Youssef said hundreds of others were injured by shotgun blasts and clubs.

"Hundreds of people are here. They are everywhere — in the halls, on the floor of the health center," he said. "People are screaming. There is lots of blood."...

A security official in Saudi Arabia said a Saudi sergeant was shot and killed by a protester in Bahrain's capital, Manama. No other details were immediately given on the death of the soldier, identified as Sgt. Ahmed al-Raddadi...

[Col. Dave Lapan.] said the commander of the Navy's 5th Fleet will decide whether to send military personnel or family members out of the country. A 5th Fleet spokesman did not immediately respond to a telephone query about what is planned.
posted by asymptotic at 10:19 AM on March 15, 2011


I'm usually loathe to link to FB, but there's an interesting PR war happening on Nicholas Kristof's wall at the moment about whether the protesters are terrorists etc.
posted by fartron at 10:27 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mixture of Saudi, UAE, and other GCC troops enter Bahrain upon invitation

Say what you will about the government of Bahrain, but I bet those invitations are gorgeous.
posted by yerfatma at 10:29 AM on March 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Did we miss it, or do they believe that change is less necessary in Saudi Arabia than it is in Libya?

Saudi is one of our top three petroleum exporters (1,076,000 barrels of crude oil per day). Libya and Bahrain aren't in the top 15. Next.
posted by blucevalo at 10:33 AM on March 15, 2011


This post on reddit is troubling and plausible, although it's hard to vouch for its accuracy.
posted by nasreddin at 10:35 AM on March 15, 2011


Oh, Jesus. I thought that said Britain for a minute.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 10:43 AM on March 15, 2011


Nah. Britain got rid of its tyrants and then invited them back.
posted by srboisvert at 10:45 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Al Jazeera is reporting "deadly" clashes. That reddit post may be more accurate than we'd wish.
posted by Xoebe at 10:46 AM on March 15, 2011


Tunisia
Egypt
Libya
Bahrain

Anyone wanna give odds on who's left? Qatar? Syria? Saudi?
posted by leotrotsky at 10:52 AM on March 15, 2011


They want to make the reprisals so bloody and horrific that nobody's next.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:56 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


....from the reddit post, this is a video.... Words escape me. I almost vomited when I saw it. Severe gore, NSFW.
posted by asymptotic at 11:09 AM on March 15, 2011


One of my husband's school friends is married to a man who works for one of the oil companies in Bahrain. We've been hearing reports about the protests from her; she went down to Pearl Square a while back and got in trouble with her husband's employer for doing it. Selfishly, I hope they're evacuating or have already evacuated. I get a little sick thinking about what's coming for those who can't leave.
posted by immlass at 11:11 AM on March 15, 2011


Manama, it's in the doo-doo
posted by scruss at 11:14 AM on March 15, 2011


♫doo doo-doo♫
posted by joecacti at 11:18 AM on March 15, 2011


@blucevalo:
Did we miss it, or do they believe that change is less necessary in Saudi Arabia than it is in Libya?

Saudi is one of our top three petroleum exporters (1,076,000 barrels of crude oil per day). Libya and Bahrain aren't in the top 15. Next.
Quick, I think someone should tell the UN that the following articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights only apply to countries not relevant to the strategic interest of the United States:
Article 20.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Stop the news! Democracy only for the irrelevant! Gee, I hope those pesky Muslims don't get the vote anyway, they'd just want to fly more planes into buildings!

From US President Barack Obama's Cairo speech:
But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.
posted by asymptotic at 11:21 AM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


We evacuated the last of our employees from Bahrain just yesterday. I'm hearing second hard reports of gunfire being exchanged in the black flag areas around the capital.
posted by atrazine at 11:37 AM on March 15, 2011


Sorry, not sure the protocol here but I mislinked to Kristof's wall above, where there is a lot of Bahraini talk and footage and finger pointing going on.
posted by fartron at 11:46 AM on March 15, 2011


I still find it hard to navigate, but I have to admit that Reddit is really gathering interesting commentators in situations like these.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:47 AM on March 15, 2011


I would strongly suggest avoiding the video linked from that reddit post. It's just what it says on the tin. Horrific.
posted by yerfatma at 12:11 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyone wanna give odds on who's left? Qatar? Syria? Saudi?

Wisconsin.
posted by stet at 1:07 PM on March 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


There was a thread about this yesterday which might have some useful links - not that this one isn't important enough for a new thread, but when there are too many news threads on MeFi valuable information tends to get lost.

Quick, I think someone should tell the UN that the following articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights only apply to countries not relevant to the strategic interest of the United States:

The UN is a talking shop without a proper executive - and by proper, I mean an executive with any power to do anything, like call up or deploy an army. the secretary-general of the UN is essentially a highly paid international mediator. Although I'm very supportive of the UN, it's not very effective in situations like this because it has no means of enforcing policy or defending the rights enumerated in its charter. For that matter, the UN does not respond instantly even in cases where US interests are threatened - we tend to remember it that way, but if you look back the UN typically takes days, weeks, or months to pass resolutions condemning government misbehavior.

This is an inherent problem with an entity made up of government representatives. The institution was on the sidelines during the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, and sadly the world knows so little about the internal politics of Libya that nobody is very sure of who's winning the civil war there, or even what the different sides stand for - Gaffafi is undoubtedly an autocratic dictator with little regard for human rights, but few of us have any real clue who the rebels are or what sort of alternative they wish to create - Robert Fisk has claimed in the Independent that the US is covertly supporting them, but even his analyses are short on information, and neither Britain nor France has articulated exactly what their positions are.

These incidents in Bahrain look outrageous, and I agree with those who say it shows how weak the governments of both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are. But to cut to the chase, what do people hope for the UN to do? Even if democratic governments condemn this, and I wish they would, what then?
posted by anigbrowl at 1:27 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


But to cut to the chase, what do people hope for the UN to do? Even if democratic governments condemn this, and I wish they would, what then?

MEDIATE! Troops to keep each side from killing, and then mediate negotiations.
posted by spicynuts at 1:31 PM on March 15, 2011


MEDIATE! Troops to keep each side from killing, and then mediate negotiations.

And what if the governments in question don't feel like it? Where are these troops coming from, and what are they armed with to impose order on the situation? Who, exactly, will be in charge of these troops, and what flag will they carry?
posted by anigbrowl at 1:43 PM on March 15, 2011


From dash-slot's FPP yesterday Hillary Clinton agreed to the cross-border use of troops to crush democracy in the Gulf, as a quid pro quo for the Arab League calling for Western intervention in Libya. - according to Craig Murray
posted by adamvasco at 1:53 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wisconsin
Stop it please (this and other threads on the Middle East). Trying to equate Wisconsin with the Middle East is like Dan Quayle trying to convince America that he was like Jack Kennedy. Lloyd Bentsen on you.
posted by astrobiophysican at 2:08 PM on March 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Spicynuts, reading that remark of mine an hour later, I hope it doesn't come across as a put-down. I do think that ultimately conflicts like this are better mediated and then litigated than settled in blood. I wish the UN could impose some sort of military intervention or impose a timeout on abusive governments at short notice, although that would require major changes in the way the institution works.

In the meantime, please keep exploring other ideas. My purpose in questioning your first suggestion is to draw attention to the very limited scope for quick intervention that we have. The US Navy's 5th fleet is located in Bahrain, but I think the potential problems that would result if it intervened are obvious. Maybe the best thing the US can do right now is not provide the Bahraini or Saudi regimes with any assistance.

I can't really make out Craig Murray's position. He's against any western involvement in Libya's conflict - and maybe he's right, but that seems like a win for Gaddafi's regime. But he accuses the US of buying support for western intervention in Libya (which isn't happening as far as I can see) with non-intervention in Bahrain, where we don't have any standing to intervene either. This seems completely inconsistent - I'm sure Gaddafi's suppression of the rebellion in Libya is just as brutal and horrific as what seems to be taking place in Bahrain.

wisconsin
Agreed. No point in repeating Pete Hoekstra's mistake of surfing on someone else's tragedy; no matter how noble or urgent one feels one's own cause to be such comparisons almost always serve to cheapen it.

posted by anigbrowl at 2:55 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't believe I missed the earlier thread. Sorry, I got a bit caught up when I read about this in the new today.
posted by asymptotic at 3:36 PM on March 15, 2011


Why Bahrain is unlikely to turn into an Iran-Saudi battleground
posted by homunculus at 3:36 PM on March 15, 2011


I like to think that everyone's pissed off that they canceled the Formula 1 race.
posted by LordSludge at 5:59 PM on March 15, 2011


Doctor speaks of 'hundreds of casualties' in Bahrain
posted by homunculus at 7:39 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This cat newstweet, on youtube, has some pretty amazing footage coming from Bahrain.

It's labeled as 'RAW' so be ready. It's not all gore and mayhem, but some is.
It's worth it, though, to find the vids of protesters repelling the security teams.

Example 1
Example 2
posted by artof.mulata at 1:20 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sunni-Shiite Tension Boils in Iraq, Gulf over Bahrain
posted by homunculus at 9:02 AM on March 16, 2011


My friend in Bahrain passed along this music video. There are at least some Bahrainis who are trying to prevent this from becoming a sectarian issue. Her daughter is the blonde moppet waving the flag about 2 minutes in.

Yesterday she was posting music videos about how Bahrain should unite. Today she's posting pictures trying to identify a weapon casing that were fired into her friend's house.

I expect things will move very quickly there now.
posted by Mad_Carew at 9:25 AM on March 16, 2011


Bahrain crackdown on protests in Manama's Pearl Square
posted by homunculus at 5:54 PM on March 16, 2011


Medical Crisis in Bahrain after Security Forces commit Crimes Against Humanity
posted by jeffburdges at 3:32 AM on March 17, 2011


I hope the protestors and news agencies document the crimes against humanity being committed by the Saudi, Bahraini, etc. forces. If these tyrants succeed in putting down the protests, I'd hope that act destroys any pretension to real legitimacy.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:48 AM on March 17, 2011


Anyone understand what's going on in Libya? It appears Gaddafi's forces are claiming they're winning, but so are the protestors.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:53 AM on March 17, 2011


Journalists Expelled from Yemen. Al Jazeera Journalist Threatened with Kidnapping of Children.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:57 AM on March 17, 2011


Daily Mail has stills from a video of a man being shot point-blank in the chest and then, when he stands back up, in the head by Bahraini security forces.

Amnest International confirms that evidence is being found of "Bahraini security forces’ systematic use of excessive force in cracking down against protesters, as fresh violence left as many as eight people dead.". Indeed:
Amnesty International has identified some of the ammunition found in the aftermath of the raid on Pearl Roundabout on 17 February.

They include US-made tear gas canisters, US-made 37mm rubber multi-baton rounds, French-made tear gas grenades, and French-made rubber “dispersion” grenades, which fragment into 18 pieces and produce a loud sound effect.
On Al Jazeera's Bahrain Live Blog, the video report at 1:48pm is of a reporter witnessing police manning checkpoints pulling young Bahrainis out of cars and beating them until they are unconscious.
posted by asymptotic at 7:39 AM on March 17, 2011


The British Foreign & Commenwealth Office, as of 0600 today, is asking all British nationals to leave Bahrain as soon as it is safe to do so.
posted by asymptotic at 7:41 AM on March 17, 2011


The Myth of the Useful Dictator: In propping up autocrats in countries like Yemen and Bahrain, the United States has long weighed its interests against its principles. Is it a false choice?
posted by homunculus at 3:58 PM on March 19, 2011


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