Bahrain explodes
February 15, 2011 5:47 AM   Subscribe

Protests erupt in Bahrain.

(For those who don't know, Bahrain is a small country in the Middle East, close to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Wikipedia. CIA World Book. It is a very small country, with ~750,000 people living there, but of vital strategic interest to the USA. It is home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet).

There have been murmurs for weeks about protests, well before former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's resignation. Indeed, last Sunday the Bahraini monarchy attempted to use a USD2,700 cash payout to every single Bahraini family as a way to placate the masses.

However, they refused to be bought, yesterday, on Valentine's Day, protests exploded. Just like Egypt, Bahraini authorities have a rich history of suppressing protests and their leaders. Will they succeed again? How will the unrest in Bahrain interact with relations between Bahrain, the USA, and Iran?

Here is the Guardian's coverage of the protests. Here is a Wikileaks cable outlining the US government's perspectives on the Bahraini monarchy: relatively Western orientated and educated, progressive and reform minded, and worth a lot of money.
posted by asymptotic (54 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
In Iran too now.
posted by nickyskye at 5:48 AM on February 15, 2011

Unlike in Egypt, the police forces in Bahrain are hired specifically to be ethnically and culturally different to the local Bahraini population:
"Human rights workers were clearly concerned at the potential for violence. The king has built a security force here staffed almost exclusively with foreigners. So the police charged with putting down any protests are from Syria, Sudan, Yemen and other countries, drawn here by the offer of eventual citizenship.

As a result, there is no connection with the people, and therefore a greater likelihood they will not hesitate to open fire, said Mohammed Al-Maskati, head of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights."
posted by asymptotic at 5:49 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

(I should say that I've posted specifically about Bahrain because I grew up and feel a special affinity towards it).
posted by asymptotic at 5:50 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

CrowdVoice page on the Bahrain protests. CrowdVoice is:
...a user-powered service that tracks voices of protest from around the world. Raise your voice for causes you support with information you submit.
posted by asymptotic at 5:51 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

The remarkable thing about that cable (and really, all the wikileaks cables) is how little attention is paid to the people who live in the country.
posted by empath at 5:51 AM on February 15, 2011

Cryptome have a page up about the protest crackdown in Bahrain.
posted by asymptotic at 6:04 AM on February 15, 2011

Bambuser footage of the occupation of the Pearl Roundabout, a prominent landmark in Bahrain. Judging by the number of people in the video is fair to say a sizable percentage of the country is now participating in the protests.
posted by asymptotic at 6:14 AM on February 15, 2011

Hint to the protesters: tear gas canisters are HOT. But if you have welding gloves, you can pick them up and throw them back.
posted by 1adam12 at 6:15 AM on February 15, 2011 [10 favorites]

Our office was closed yesterday due to most our employees being Shia and thus busy protesting. Luckily none of them were shot or arrested, though we did have to have a little talk with some of our younger employees about the propriety of hanging black flags on one's cubicle walls.
posted by atrazine at 6:37 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

To elaborate on asymptotic's comment, the senior Egyptian army officers temporarily ruling Egypt as military dictatorship ordered the wholesale slaughter of the thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square at the behest of Mubarak.

Robert Fisk writes in the Independent that :

"the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters."

"Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people."

Egypt's interim military government still seems preferable to Suleiman ofcourse because they have vowed to put a new constitution to vote within two months and are involving opposition leaders like Wael Ghonim and Amr Salama.

In comparison, President Ben Ali had also given the Tunisian military orders to fire upon demonstrators, but these orders were rejected by chief of staff General Rashid Ammar.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:39 AM on February 15, 2011 [8 favorites]

Why is the US State Department making comments on the protests in Iran but not those in Yemen or Bahrain? Here is their response, yesterday:
QUESTION: How about other countries – Bahrain, Yemen, or Algeria, or Jordan? Why you are not talking about those countries and you are condemning what is happening in Iran?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, actually, in the other countries there is greater respect for the rights of the citizens. I mean, we are watching developments in other countries, including Yemen, including Algeria, including Bahrain. And our advice is the same. As the Secretary made clear in her Doha speech, there’s a significant need for political, social, and economic reform across the region, and we encourage governments to respect their citizen’s right to protest peacefully, respect their right to freedom of expression and assembly, and hope that there will be an ongoing engagement, a dialogue between people in governments, and they can work together on the necessary forms [sic].

Now, those reforms will not be identical. They’ll be different country by country. But clearly, the people in the region, emboldened by what’s happened in Tunisia and Egypt and well connected through social media, are gathering together, standing up, and demanding more of their governments.
posted by asymptotic at 6:39 AM on February 15, 2011

Also, we've digests on Bahrain, Iran, and Iraq, and the influence of cablegate on Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, and Yemen.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:43 AM on February 15, 2011

If the King can suddenly dole out 2 025 000 000 USD, that speaks to the injustice inherent in the system. It also suggests that there is much more fat to be had, and that the royal family should be eaten.

Where did all these fucking leeches come from anyways?
posted by Meatbomb at 6:51 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also, we've digests on Bahrain, Iran, and Iraq, and the influence of cablegate on Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, and Yemen.

Not to make this about WL, but does anyone seriously suggest that the leaks have had no value? Not to say at all that they contributed very much to the revolutions themselves, but to the publics understanding of these countries and the US relationship with them.
posted by empath at 6:57 AM on February 15, 2011

Where did all these fucking leeches come from anyways?

I'll assume you're being facetious and already know that wealth and power have been centralized in the hands of the few for nearly all of human history.
posted by aught at 6:59 AM on February 15, 2011

When it Bahrains it Bahpours.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:00 AM on February 15, 2011 [7 favorites]

The spread of unrest being witnessed is believed to have begun in Tunisia in January. Tunisians were aware of the level of corruption of the Tunisia family of their now-former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. But, after a Lebanese newspaper released cables further illuminating the workings of Tunisia government, after WikiLeaks drew attention to a specific cable, Tunisians could now be grateful because everyone was now “whispering” what Tunisians had always known.

Mutual Knowledge

In a dictatorship where people are afraid to discuss their true opinions about the government, then every one may know that the government is corrupt, but they can't know that their neighbors know, and that their neighbors know that they know, and so on. Stuff like wikileaks (and facebook, and the self-immolations, etc) break down the walls that keep people from talking to each other about their dissatisfaction. Once everyone knows they aren't alone, the organization and resistance follows. Finally, once thousands of people are on the street, then the fear and lies that maintain the government in power collapse.
posted by empath at 7:03 AM on February 15, 2011 [5 favorites]

asymptotic: Bambuser footage of the occupation of the Pearl Roundabout, a prominent landmark in Bahrain. Judging by the number of people in the video is fair to say a sizable percentage of the country is now participating in the protests.

If you click the "Nearby" tab below the footage on Bambuser you can see lots and lots of footage from Bahrain.
posted by Kattullus at 7:29 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

@Kattullus: Sweet! That's exactly what I wanted.
posted by asymptotic at 7:33 AM on February 15, 2011

You say "numerous democratic uprisings," I say "widespread political instability."
posted by schmod at 7:42 AM on February 15, 2011

@schmod: Could you please elaborate on the distinction in the case of Bahrain in particular?
posted by asymptotic at 7:55 AM on February 15, 2011

You say revolution, I say the proles need smacking.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 7:58 AM on February 15, 2011

These protests seem to have caught the West by surprise. Is there no one here saying "I told you so!"?
posted by tommasz at 8:01 AM on February 15, 2011

The people in Egypt have a fondness for the military if not the police, and that might be in part because of universal male conscription. Fit males serve in the military for a time. thus much like the people's army in Israel, there is a connect between civilians and military unlike the military in some other countries.
posted by Postroad at 8:02 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

You say "numerous democratic uprisings," I say "widespread political instability."

Do you indeed?
posted by atrazine at 8:13 AM on February 15, 2011

schmod: You say "numerous democratic uprisings," I say "widespread political instability."

Well, yes. There is widespread political instability in the world today (not only in the Middle East, also Albania, Ireland and, arguably, the US as evidenced by the Tea Party). It is interesting that in the Middle East the political instability has led to numerous democratic uprisings.

The defining feature of these protests has been their leaderlessness. There are no central figures who people rally around. This is rather striking and different from recent political protests, even as recently as Iran in 2009, which had clear leaders in Mousavi and Karroubi.
posted by Kattullus at 9:14 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

tommasz: "These protests seem to have caught the West by surprise. Is there no one here saying "I told you so!""

Some neocons have that I know of, but many are waiting silently to see how it all turns out before laying any claim. No one wants to risk owning the reign of Gen.Babykiller if he takes power. I think a number of other people, mostly academics, have been unsurprised but I don't have any names at the moment.
posted by charred husk at 9:35 AM on February 15, 2011

Actually Kattulus, Mousavi was reacting to the spontaneous protests rather than organising them. He emerged as the natural leader figure because everyone figured that he probably won the election, but the protests started out fairly spontaneously. The difference between what happened in Iran and what is happening in Egypt and Tunisia is that Iran had actual opposition parties and leaders who could serve as the figurehead for popular discontent with the current government.
posted by atrazine at 9:40 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

The remarkable thing about that cable (and really, all the wikileaks cables) is how little attention is paid to the people who live in the country.

Eponysterical! But really, it's the State Department, not a human rights NGO.

These protests seem to have caught the West entire foreign policy establishment by surprise.


In some sense, there has been an "Arab exceptionalism" at work, in that people have wondered for years why there wasn't more populist-democratic dynamic in the politics of these countries. But there were similar exceptionalisms for Latin America and Africa and even Southeast Asia at one time (which, like this one, tended to have racist tinges to them), and those regions have all seen swathes of dictators and autocrats fall away to more democratic systems of government. (I'm not sure Eastern Europe counts in this same dynamic, but there were also clear similarities.) We've seen this sort of thing before, of course, with international waves of political unrest such as 1848 or 1968. Clearly there is a copycat or even mentor relationship at work in some of these.
posted by dhartung at 9:48 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

The key to these things being pulled off successfully seems to be: Facebook|Twitter + army of conscripts or the lower middle class + peaceful demonstration.

- Lose the internet and you have the abyss of state run press and TV in which people can't effectively find each other in near-real time.

- Replace the conscript army with some career praetorian force like the Republican Guard or with national police force and you'll have a massacre.

- Demonstrate violently, and even the conscript army will follow the ruler's order to maintain peace.

The problem is that the rulers are not limited to state TV, and they always have the internet. It's also possible they have the stability fetishists in the State Department and Israeli government telling them where to look for agitators online. In either case, we have to appreciate that while the demonstrators are essentially trying to run the Tunisia/Egypt playbook with local variation, their rulers are not going to run the suicidal Mubarak playbook.

I think we are seeing the new ruling party playbook unfold in Bahrain:

- Send in the praetorians or the police to deal with the demonstrators, not the conscripts in the army.

- Disinformation campaigns - seed facebook and twitter with police or loyalists to create confusion or temper enthusiasm

- Send undercover police or thugs into the protests to stir up violence against the state, not against the protests. In other words, transform the peaceful protest agaisnt the state into a violent one, before the state visibly intervenes. To save his ass, Mubarak should have sent his thugs into the crowds dressed as muslim brotherhood or students with guns and tell them to shoot harmelessly at official buildings. The crowd would have panicked, the military would have intervened, and the Western press would write the narrative that this was a radical uprising by extremists, etc.

What matters more to me in reading threads here and elsewhere is an almost jealous sentiment in the West of the Egyptians, not that they were able to rise up against their oppressors, but that what was oppressing them was something that could be risen up against. It isn't that we in the west feel happy, we generally don't. We seem to be aware that something somewhere is wrong, broken, but it's hard to take to the streets over it, not because we can't, but because we know it won't matter. The thing that's broken isn't really in the streets or over here or over there.

In the west, the thing that is wrong is just as metamorphic and ambulant as the uprising we would mount against it.

I like to think about these things in terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs rather than the spent paradigm of class struggle. In egypt and tunisia, the combination of dictatorship and rising food commodity prices knocked the people who were living on the first two tiers of Maslow's pyramid right off the pyramid entirely. At the other end, you had your Wael Ghonims and El Baradeis, your well-off, western educated elites, who having achieved wealth,power, and influence internationally still felt they hadn't become who they were meant to become. Who have not brought to their lives the meaning that is only achieved through moral action.

Ghonim wrote a tweet to his wife that "we were looking for Egypt". I believe these people felt in a very personal way that whatever success or stature they achieved in their lives was always diminished by the fact that they had to leave their country to do so. They had to stop being Egyptians and be something else, even though deep down they are always Egyptians. They felt they had a duty given their success and influence to help their people. To help the Egyptian people, and in the process change what it means to be an Egyptian and thereby restore themselves to their culture. ("I'm not a moderate Arab, I am simply an Egyptian"). To mount this revolution was an act of great service and sacrifice but with a great personal dimension as well--this was what they were meant to do with their lives. They were finally fulfilling a long-felt duty.

The combination of the poor and middle class confronted with a future where they can not longer meet their basic survival needs--a future where they are knowck off Maslow's pyramid--with an educated elite ashamed of the conditions in their home country allied against the oppressive regime led to the events of the past 3 weeks.

But where are we, in the West? We are jammed up on levels three and four of Maslow's pyramid. We spend the bulk of our lives on trying to build meaningful relationships, to love and be loved, but also to belong. To be part of the culture and the broader collective experience. To be confident that we are loved by those close to us and respected as one of their own by others more distant.

But we never get there because all of those things, those relationships, are mediated. We use Facebook to seek attention, to collect images and messages as proxies for friends and intimacy. We log in and are presented with a wall of bright smiling faces who when photographed were all smiling at different people, at different times and in difference places. But we see them all at once directed at us, and it is oppressive. Who themselves feels as bright and happy as a wall of dozens of their smiling friends? We know intellectually they are images, but our prehistoric minds see only a happiness that we lack. The people you were friends with are cast about the globe, and all you have now are the emails and tweets. The bond formed by shared experience is reduced to status updates.

Add to this the stories and myths of our time, the images of advertising and popular culture, the expectations from all sides. The religions that promise salvation and peace and deliver guilt and judgment. Everything is about what is coming next, what you can become if only we act now in a way that is not action at all.

We never belong to anything, we conform. Our belonging is really just membership in a demographic group, and what we think of as culture or experience is really just following trends. And when another (or god forbid newer) demographic group breaks the trends, and even mocks it, we immediately feel old, marginalized and unimportant.

It's true that the internet shattered the Society of the Spectacle. But it replaced with with a society of Infinite Spectacles, each uniquely tailored to our own individual condition at any given moment in time. We carry with us our own unique Spectacle tailored to our custom preferences that change us and change in response to those changes in us.

In the West we experience different things at different times, but we all experience anxiety all the time. Anxiety is the one emotion that never lies. For any given physical characteristic or personality trait there exists a cultural artifact, celebrity, or facebook/internet friend that surpasses us with respect to it, and this disparity on all fronts is sensed in the present. Every single person knows what they are missing, but they can never get it, but then it will change instantly to something else.

We make small insignificant moves on the chessboard to soothe our anxiety and those moves constitute the field or our lives--the kitchen, the gym, the website, the school, the therapist, the confessional. All lateral moves in a confined space.

This existence is choking us, but only slightly. But at some level we know this. We see the Egyptian experience and we gasp for air. We can sense that real love, real culture, real purpose is out there. Somewhere. A real-life adjacent to our own.

We want to rise up, but we don't know against whom, where and for what. We want to take the streets but only because that's what we see others doing.

I don't know. I think the territory that needs taking, that needs deterritorializing isn't the street. It's our minds. The apparatus of this Thing, this morphing mutating whatever-it-is, has completely restructured and defined our entire way of seeing and being in the world.

I have no idea how one rises up against this.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:49 AM on February 15, 2011 [20 favorites]

Some neocons have that I know of, but many are waiting silently to see how it all turns out before laying any claim

Please tell me they're not chalking this up to Bush's wars or the PNAC. I don't know if I can stomach another chapter in the ongoing story of how Republican presidents' military spending is responsible for everything good in the world.
posted by Hoopo at 9:51 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Interesting bit of timing to consider. The 2011 Formula One World Championship kicks off in Bahrain in less than a month, with a major testing session a week before that (March 3-6).

Rajab told Arabian Business: "For sure F1 is not going to be peaceful this time. There'll be lots of journalists, a lot of people looking and [the government] will react in a stupid manner as they have done, and that will be bloody, but will be more publicised.
posted by philip-random at 10:04 AM on February 15, 2011

Eighty percent of the Prime Minister’s cabinet is filled with members of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa’s royal family. The Shiite opposition group--another branch of Islam--wants to see more diversity in the cabinet and greater power be instilled in the parliament. Shiites make up 70 percent of the country, but have only a 45 percent share in parliament. They also own siginificantly less wealth than Sunnis. Bahrain's entire voting population is about the same size as the voting population of a single Congressional district in the United States. Half of Bahrain's population of 1.2 million is made up of foreigners. The security forces are heavily dominated by foreigners. via neontommy.
posted by adamvasco at 10:49 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Where did all these fucking leeches come from anyways?

Excellent question, go get some popcorn and a comfy chair!

First thing first, all these countries basically came into existence after the First World War.

The Short Answer
The provenance of "these fucking leeches" in the Mid-East started with influential families who played their cards right by first siding with Britain and France against the Ottomans in WWI and then with the Allies against the Nazis in WWII. During the Cold War some of the old Kings got tossed out, typically replaced by police states propped up (or knocked down) by US and USSR machinations. This (and Israel) is why "Death to America!" is has the meme-force of a cheeseburger loving cat in the Mid-East.

The Long Answer

Start with who got put in power either before or after WWI
- The Hashemites: Installed by the French in Syria and the British in Iraq and Jordan. The French would later scoop a chunk off Syria to form a Christian dominated Lebanon.
- The Sauds: Given control over most of what is now Saudi Arabia by the British, later consolidate their rule (forming what is now SA) by kicking the Hashemites out of Mecca.
- The Sabahs: Already ruling Kuwait, so the British just annexed them into the British Empire. Allah save the Queen.
- The Khalifas: Long standing buddies/puppets of the British in Bahrain. Reforming modernists get kicked out post WWI.
- The Thanis: Given control of Qatar after the British split it off from Bahrain.
- The Saids: Sultans of Oman since the mid 1700s, clients of the British since the late 1800s.
- The Muhammed Alis: Installed as puppet Kings in Egypt by the British (again) to counter reformists, nationalists, and Islamists (i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood).
- The UAE: Yup, British protectorate in 1853.
- Imam Yahya: Kicks out the Ottomans and sets up North Yemen. The British hold onto South Yemen.
- The Husayns: Already ruling in Tunisia in the 1880s when the French used some trumped up "get off my Algeria" charges to annex the country. Kept on as puppet rulers.
- The Qajars: Having spent the last century selling chunks of Iran to the Russians and British, are replaced in 1925 by the Pahlavis, who try to avoid giving foreign powers monopolies on Iranian natural resources for a quick buck. Starts off strong, but goes awry pretty quickly.
- Algeria: following an incident where the Ottoman governor smacked the French ambassador with a fly swatter (really), is invaded in 1830 and placed under direct French rule.
- Palestine: Annexed by the Brits. The Balfour Declaration then encourages Jewish immigration. This will not wendell.
- And the rest: Morocco (Alouaites "accept" French Protectorate 1912), Libya (Italian colony in 1912), and Turkey (That annoying Chuck Norris meme? It used to be about Ataturk.)

Anyway, basically most of the original leeches were -- as is typical -- the fault of the British. Later, after WWII, the region got all independent-y and some of those initial ruling families were deposed. A lot of them though, are still in power: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, and Qatar are all still ruled by families either directly or indirectly put into power by the British or French.

Just about all the countries that did throw out those initial colonial puppets had nominally democratic movements which quickly devolved into one party police states propped up by enormous amounts money and political leeway from the Cold War blocs. Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia all fit this bill. Iran is special because a popular uprising threw out the puppet shah, but never really got a chance to either prove its merit or descend into a dictatorship before Kermit (really!) Roosevelt helped stick the Shah back on the throne.

So, where do these fucking leeches come from? The come from us. They come from a century or more of Western powers ruling through puppet tyrants or paying tyrants to rule directly, periodically deposing them when their usefulness ran out. The First Gulf war was ostensibly to kick Iraq out of Kuwait, thereby re-securing rule by the Sabahs. Saddam Hussein himself went from shaking hands with Donald Rumsfeld in 1983 to being deposed by him in 2003. Par. For. The. Course.

Keep all this in mind the next time you, or anyone else, starts calling for stronger words or actions on the part of American or European leaders in supporting the movements that are sweeping the Mid-East right now. I know those cries are meant well, meant to support a truly noble ideal of democracy. But you have to keep in mind, to a lot of people in those countries it looks like the West pulling its fingers out of one puppet and jamming them into the next.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:16 AM on February 15, 2011 [24 favorites]

The people in the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan have 'royal' families who were foisted on them by the British. For some weird reason the British felt that kings were cool. Arabs never really went in for that. So there's where some leeches came from.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:10 PM on February 15, 2011

Further to Panjandrum's previous comment: please draw your attention to CIA Worldbook's ranking of countries by % of GDP spent on military expenditures in around 2006. Notice anything odd? Look closer. Closer...ah, yes. Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen, Kuwait, and Bahrain, 7 countries in the Arabian Gulf, are in the top 20.

Guess what kind of military hardware they purchase? Guess which country sells it? No, please, I insist, you should do the guessing. Oh, really, you want me to spell it out?

The USA. With some British/French hardware on the side.

(This is not true for Yemen...but will soon be).
posted by asymptotic at 12:24 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

(Yeesh, Jordan isn't in the Arabian Gulf. Got a bit carried away).
posted by asymptotic at 12:27 PM on February 15, 2011

Guess what kind of military hardware they purchase?

Mostly fighter planes, tanks, and other toys they plan to use to keep that Gulf Arabian rather than Persian.
posted by atrazine at 12:47 PM on February 15, 2011

Or What Panjandrum said! Never fall asleep while previewing!

The Ottoman Empire got a lot of undeserved bad press. The British just *had* to take it down.

T.E. Lawrence had a huge guilt complex about his sexuality so he had this huge respect for the Wahabi tribes who usually did not like the Turks. If the Turkish officer who caught T.E. Lawrence had not abused him, his hatred of Turks might not have been as great. Basically Lawrence trained the Wahabi tribesmen in terrorist tactics.
The Wahabi strain might never have reached power were it not for T. E. Lawrence.
The guy was Bat.Shit.Crazy.

As far as other foreign presences, France, Spain, all of them were resented deeply.

Syed Qutb who helped found the Muslim Brotherhood was educated for a time in the United States. He was in Iowa, and people dragged him along to church activities hoping to convert him. Qutb returned to Egypt with a HUGE case of culture shock and the realization that Muslims had to be more organized to resist Euro-American-Christian intrusions.

I have read some of his work and he greatly misunderstood American social mores in some cases, church dances for example struck him as a very bad idea.

Egyptian Christians did not have church dances! He saw Americans indulgeing in premarital sex despite the fact that it is really not Christian or good behavior and carried huge risks for the girls.
He saw a lot if drinking, and bad consequences from that. So he did not want any of this happening in Egypt.
He wrote a book in English about all this and I read it ages ago. Sorry Sleepy Geezer Sydrome is kicking in. Anyway so many Westerners felt Qutb had gone too far, and they did not want a stricter sort of Islam to deal with once the West had booted out the Ottoman Empire. So wealthy 'extremists' who would sneak a drink or go to Europe to gamble in casinos and go to brothels were ok, but poor and lower middle class 'extremists' were a threat right up there with Communists.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:54 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Wahabi strain might never have reached power were it not for T. E. Lawrence.

Would you say the same for Aaron Aaronsohn using the same criteria?
posted by clavdivs at 1:03 PM on February 15, 2011

I wish I could take that Dan Rather interview with Maddow last night and subtitle some of the more blatant double-speak about our 'security' vs. 'resource extraction' for our elites. The idea that day-to-day Americans rely on Arabs / South Americans living shitty lives under horrible dictators is one of the most monstrous ideas we live with. I want fucking proof.

Anyone have good Saudi or Kuwait newssources?

Our media is failing so big right now, it reminds me of 2008. The Right Wing is doing its big budget distraction dance about Will Ayers in Egypt, community organizing, bunga bunga...We have a president that is so averse to being seen as liberal (comically familiar)
posted by lslelel at 1:06 PM on February 15, 2011

Bahrain Police Use Force to Crack Down on Protests
MANAMA, Bahrain — Without warning, hundreds of heavily armed riot police officers rushed into Pearl Square here early Thursday, firing tear gas and concussion grenades at the thousands of demonstrators who were sleeping there as part of a widening protest against the nation’s absolute monarchy.

Men, women and young children ran screaming, choking and collapsing.

The square was filled with the crack of tear gas canisters and the wail of ambulances rushing people to the hospital. Teams of plainclothes police officers carrying shotguns swarmed through the area, but it was unclear if they used the weapons to subdue the crowd.

“There was a fog of war,” said Mohammed Ibrahim as he took refuge in a nearby gas station. He was barefoot, had lost his wallet and had marks on his leg where he said he was beaten. “There were children, forgive them.”

At least two people were killed in the mayhem, according to an opposition member of Parliament, Ibrahim Mattar, who was quoted by Reuters. Many people were injured in the chaos — trampled, beaten or suffocated by the tear gas.

posted by metaplectic at 8:36 PM on February 16, 2011

*sniff* I miss home!

Bahrain forces storm square, 2 reported dead:
Hours after police retook control of the plaza, the tiny island nation was in lockdown mode. Tanks and armoured personnel carriers were seen in some areas — the first sign of military involvement in the crisis. Police checkpoints were set up along main roadways and armed patrols moved through neighbourhoods in an apparent attempt to thwart any mass gatherings.
Tanks, armoured personnel carriers! US hardware put to good use putting down those pesky Shiites!
posted by asymptotic at 12:30 AM on February 17, 2011

AP now reports that four were killed, and that the forces that stormed the square were distinctly non-Bahraini:
Dr. Sadek Akikri, 44, said he was tending to sick protesters at a makeshift medical tent in the square when the police stormed in. He said he was tied up and severely beaten, then thrown on a bus with others.

"They were beating me so hard I could no longer see. There was so much blood running from my head," he said. "I was yelling, 'I'm a doctor. I'm a doctor.' But they didn't stop."
He said the police beating him spoke Urdu, the main language of Pakistan. A pillar of the protest demands is to end the Sunni regime's practice of giving citizenship to other Sunnis from around the region to try to offset the demographic strength of Shiites. Many of the new Bahrainis are given security posts.
posted by asymptotic at 12:42 AM on February 17, 2011

The Bahraini Ministry of Interior tweeted this:
Security forces evacuated protesters from Pearl roundabout
HAHAHAHAHAHA! In Soviet Russia, Pearl Roundabout evacuates you!
posted by asymptotic at 12:48 AM on February 17, 2011

"We are against violence and we would call to account the Iranian government that is, once again, using its security forces and resorting to violence to prevent the free expression of ideas from their own people. Secondly, we support the universal human rights of the Iranian people. They deserve to have the same rights that they saw being played out in Egypt and that are part of their own birthright. And thirdly, we think there needs to be a commitment to open up the political system in Iran, to open up to opposition figures in society." -- Hillary Clinton, 15th February 2011
I demand a verbatim statement from Hillary Clinton in the next few days about Bahrain, or else I charge the USA with gross hypocrisy and narrow-minded empire-building.
posted by asymptotic at 4:26 AM on February 17, 2011

Blood Runs Through the Streets of Bahrain
One nurse told me that she was on the roundabout, known as Pearl Square, and saw a young man of about 24, handcuffed and then beaten by a group of police. She said she then watched as they executed him at point-blank range with a gun. The nurse told me her name, but I will not use full names of some people in this column to avoid putting them at greater risk.

I met one doctor, Sadiq al-Ekri, who was lying in a hospital bed with a broken nose and injuries to his eyes and almost his entire body. He couldn’t speak to me because he was still unconscious and on oxygen after what colleagues and his family described as a savage beating by riot police who were outraged that he was treating people at the roundabout.

Dr. Ekri, a distinguished plastic surgeon, had just returned from a trip to Houston. He identified himself as a physician to the riot police, according to other doctors and family members, based partly on what Dr. Ekri, 44, told them before he lost consciousness. But then, they said, the riot police handcuffed him and began beating him with sticks and kicking him while shouting insults against Shiites. Finally, they said, the police pulled down his pants and threatened to rape him, although that idea was abandoned and an ambulance eventually was allowed to rescue him.

“He went to help people,” said his father, who was at the bedside. “It’s his duty to help people. And then this happened.”

Three ambulance drivers or paramedics told me that they had been pulled out of their ambulances and beaten by the police. One, Jameel, whose head was bandaged and his arm was in a cast, told me that police had clubbed him and that a senior officer had then told him: “If I see you again, I’ll kill you.”
posted by metaplectic at 11:50 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

from the comments:
Manama, Bahrain
February 17th, 2011
3:03 pm

I live in Bahrain and my wife is a doctor at Salmaniaya hospital and I can confirm just about everything in the article. My wife got to the hospital at 7am expecting to treat patients and instead they waited for several hours until the government gave permission to go pick up the casualties at the Pearl Roundabout. Initially the paramedics sent to the scene were attacked by the police/army and instructions were given to Salmaniya to not treat any protestor. Sometime mid morning the government relented and allowed the ambulances to do their work, however when the casualties finally did show up a significant (I can't say how many) of the women and children that Salmaniya expected to arrive didn't. Apparently these victims were sent to Bahrain Defense Hospital, a military hospital with much stricter controls on allowing the press in. Seems the government didn't want anybody to see or report on these. The riot police in Bahrain are rarely Bahraini, instead they are usually Pakistani imports. The ruling family doesn't trust most Shia Bahraini's in such a position.

Obama should come out and say something but my bet is nothing will be done.
posted by metaplectic at 11:58 PM on February 17, 2011

Some disturbing tweets from AP's Hadeel Al-Shalchi in Bahrain:

Protesters were carrying flowers saying they wanted to deliver it to police. Were shot instead. Blood on street now

Army firing live ammo from anti-aircraft guns from APC's at protesters

Protesters reached the #lulu square, sat down and army shot into them again

posted by jonesor at 7:27 AM on February 18, 2011

Security Forces in Bahrain Fire on Mourners and Journalists
MANAMA, Bahrain — Government forces opened fire on hundreds of mourners marching toward Pearl Square Friday, sending people running away in panic amid the boom of concussion grenades. But even as the people fled, at least one helicopter sprayed fire on them and a witness reported seeing mourners crumpling to the ground.

It was not immediately clear what type of ammunition the forces were firing, but some witnesses reported live fire from automatic weapons and the crowd was screaming “live fire, live fire.” At a nearby hospital, witnesses reported seeing people with very serious injuries and gaping wounds, at least some of them caused by rubber bullets that appeared to have been fired at close range.

Even as ambulances rushed to rescue people, forces fired on medics loading the wounded into their vehicles.

A Western official said at least one person had died in the mayhem surrounding the square, and reports said at least 50 were wounded. The official quoted a witness as saying that the shooters were from the military, not the police, indicating a hardening of the government’s stance against those trying to stage a popular revolt.

The mourners who were trying to march on symbolic Pearl Square were mostly young men who had been part of a funeral procession for a protester killed in an earlier crackdown by police.

Minutes after the first shots were fired, forces in a helicopter that had been shooting at the crowds, opened fire at a Western reporter and videographer who were filming a sequence on the latest violence.
posted by metaplectic at 9:24 AM on February 18, 2011

"This is a war," said Dr Bassem Deif, an orthopedic surgeon examining people with bullet-shattered bones.
posted by adamvasco at 12:05 PM on February 18, 2011


The Bahrain GP risks becoming the first event canceled in F1 history.
posted by philip-random at 10:51 PM on February 18, 2011

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