Original Articles

An open letter to President Obama: People of Bahrain need your help

Related articles: LUBP Archive on Bahrain

An open letter to President Obama: If there is any country where the USA can install democracy without a single bullet fired, it is Bahrain

Dear Mr. President,

In one of your recent addresses to international audience, you pledged that America’s “commitment—our responsibility—is to stand up for those rights that should be universal to all human beings”. The commitment you made is rooted in the founding principles of your country, echoed in the Declaration of Independence, which states that all men and women around the world are endowed with the right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These founding principles are undeniable truths that have guided the United States, since its inception, on a path toward justice and universal rights for all people. We call upon you, Mr. President—as the leader of this country and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate—to wholeheartedly pursue these ends in your dealings with the popular uprising for democracy in Bahrain.

Mr. President, It is a known fact that because of its strategic and short-term interests, the United States has often aligned itself with repressive autocrats in the Middle East right from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and from Bahrain to Jordan.

The current uprising in Bahrain presents a test of America’s commitments to the American and universal values of human rights, freedom and democracy.

Therefore we, the undersigned, academics and researchers, teachers and students, lawyers and traders, women and men, young and old, U.S. citizens, Bahraini citizens, call upon you to use all the powers of your office to stand unequivocally behind the Bahraini People’s Movement, withdraw US support from King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah’s security state, and establish 2011 as a watershed in US relations with the peoples of the Middle East.

All we want is freedom, free and fair elections, a representative government, equality of women and men, equality of Muslims and non-Muslims, equality of Shia and Sunni, and a responsible government in Bahrain. These basic rights cannot be achieved without moving to replace the current regime, and the transition process must include real representation from the pro-democracy movement.

While it is not the role of any other country to determine Bahrain’s leaders, the Bahraini people’s right to self-government has been obstructed by a military and intelligence apparatus that is trained and funded by Washington and London, fiercely loyal to the current King, and inimical to popular sovereignty. The current Prime Minister, an uncle of the King, widely known as Manama’s renditions czar, provides a constant reminder of American complicity in the Bahraini repression — as do the helicopters flying over the Pearl Square and the tanks that stood passively while the dictators forces killed peaceful protesters freely.

It is imperative that your administration rescind support from all Bahraini security forces opposing democracy and civilian control.

Compared to the U.S., Bahrain is a tiny nation with a population of 1 million, almost half of them foreign workers. The tiny island is home for 6,000 members of the U.S. Fifth Fleet. Bahrain’s military numbers about 9,000 personnel who remain totally dependent on the U.S. and U.K. for their training and equipment.

If there is any single country on this planet where the U.S. can constructively help the local people in achieving their aim of democracy without a single bullet fired, it is Bahrain.

Mr. President,

Accordingly, we kindly ask you to use your strategic and political influence forcing King Hamad Khalifah to resign, the current government be replaced by an interim civilian council representing proportionate number of Shias, Sunnis and Christians who will oversee a free and fair election in the next three months.

We kindly ask that you leverage American power in the United Nations Security Council to demand from Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay to send special envoys to Bahrain on a fact-finding mission to investigate the regime’s human rights abuses particularly against the 80% Shia majority who remain oppressed and discriminated against. Specifically, we call for the UN to inspect the condition of prisoners, investigate the claims of torture or other cruel and unusual treatment, and meet with members of the rights groups and lawyers concerning restrictions on their ability to defend their clients. During the past years the regime has systematically increased its violations of numerous articles within its own constitution that guarantee the right of freedom of speech and assembly.

The demonstrators have called for democratic regime change, not a US-facilitated transition to another despot, nor any intervention by the neighbouring dictator kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We urge you to help ensure that their demands are met, their rights are honored, and the Bahraini kingdom and its security apparatus ceases its attacks on journalists and peaceful protesters.

In the end, we would like to emphasize the importance for America of being seen as an advocate for human rights for all peoples in all parts of the world. Throughout the years, the vast majority of Bahraini people have expressed their utmost respect for Americans. We encourage you to stand on the side of the people in their time of difficulty by focusing on human rights and democracy in our motherland.

With Utmost Respect,
Citizens of Bahrain and the U.S.A.

Great sign on Bahrain roundabout: “No Sunni, No Shia, Just Bahraini.” That’s the spirit! (Nicholas Kristof)

Female protesters gather at Pearl Square, after riot police opened all roads leading to the venue, in the Bahraini capital of Manama February 19, 2011. Anti-government protesters in Bahrain swarmed back into the symbolic Pearl Square on Saturday, putting riot police to flight in a striking victory for their cause. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

About the author

Abdul Nishapuri


Click here to post a comment
  • Obama must demand reform from Bahrain’s leaders

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    John Moore / Getty Images

    Anti-government protesters face off against the Bahraini army on Friday.

    After its uncertain handling of Egypt, Washington has a second chance at playing a forceful role in another Middle East uprising. Bahrain’s rulers, longtime allies of the United States, have turned violent in suppressing street protests – and President Obama should make every effort to stop such tactics and urge democratic change.

    Why Bahrain, a tiny nation five times the land size of San Francisco with a population of 1 million, half of them foreign workers? Because it’s a country with deep ties to Washington, giving the White House leverage it doesn’t have in Yemen or Libya, where protests are being met with similar bloody crackdowns.

    Pro-democracy forces are asking for a constitutional monarchy – a hardly radical request – in an oil state where near-feudal rule by the al-Khalifa family is the norm. The island country lies on the eastern hip of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, making it a prime spot for the U.S. Navy to station a base to contain nearby Iran.

    There are clearly strategic interests to weigh carefully, but these don’t excuse the government’s heavy-handed crackdown. Sleeping protesters bedded down in the main square of the capital city were rousted in the middle of the night by riot police, who left five dead and hundreds wounded. This mayhem against unarmed demonstrators was inexcusable, and such steps only make reconciliation and long-term solutions harder to achieve.

    Obama, who neglected to mention the early troubles in Bahrain in his first comments on the Middle East uprisings, is finally responding, tepidly for sure. Both he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are proceeding too cautiously, issuing bland statements calling for calm.

    As with Egypt, that’s not enough. Bahrain may be a different place where religious tensions, geographic location and Washington’s future interests require diplomatic calibration.

    But the overall issue is the same: A timeworn autocracy that has failed to deliver must give way to change. Obama can play a role in shaping this turning point in history, and his first step should be confronting Bahrain’s rulers with the need to reform now, not later.

    This article appeared on page A – 11 of the San Francisco Chronicle

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/18/EDU41HQ66T.DTL#ixzz1EVpgPtBM

  • INSKEEP: NPR’s Peter Kenyon is in the capital city of Bahrain. And, Peter, do the protestors want reforms only or do they want a regime change here?

    KENYON: You have been hearing calls for down Khalifa, down Khalifa, for example. That’s the name of the Sunni royal family that runs this majority Shiite country.

    But the organizers of the protest are very clear that their demands remain the same, and that is political reform, not necessarily having the king step down. It’s something that the government has promised for some time. And according to the Shiite majority here, according to these protestors, they have not delivered sufficiently on it.

    Ultimately what these people would like is to turn Bahrain into a constitutional monarchy. In other words, devolve a lot of power away from the king and make it something along the lines of say Britain’s constitutional monarchy.

    INSKEEP: Sounds like it’s getting a little noisier there, Peter. What’s happening now?

    KENYON: It’s always in flux here. You never know what’s going to happen. There’s helicopters going overhead. That is the only security presence here. They’re monitoring the activity, trying to keep track of how many people are where.

    INSKEEP: Of course, the United States is also monitoring the situation. Although I notice, Peter Kenyon, that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, although she spoke out against the crackdown on demonstrators in Iran in recent days has not said as much about Bahrain.

    KENYON: Well, now that has been very much noticed here, Steve. I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and spoken quite excitedly about the Obama administration’s – what they call here, you know, them cheering on the protestors in Tehran but not saying a word about the protestors here. That’s how it looks to them anyway.

    But here in Bahrain you have a slightly different security situation. There’s U.S. interests. The king of Bahrain is a reliable ally in counterterrorist activities, they host the 5th Fleet for the Navy here. And he’s also a bulwark for Saudi Arabia, which is just a 15 minute drive away over a causeway here. They are very concerned about Shiite uprisings possibly fomented by Iran. And so they’re very happy to see this small island run by a Sunni royal family.


  • The Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy is responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and coast off East Africa as far south as Kenya. It shares a commander and headquarters with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). The commander of the 5th Fleet is currently (2010) Vice Admiral Mark I. Fox.[1] Fifth Fleet/NAVCENT is a component command of, and reports to, CENTCOM.

    Active 26 April 1944–January 1947
    1 July 1995–Present
    Country United States of America
    Branch United States Navy
    Type Fleet
    Role Direct Fleet Operations
    Part of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command
    U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)
    Garrison/HQ Naval Support Activity Bahrain
    commander Vice Admiral Mark I. Fox
    commanders Admiral Raymond A. Spruance

  • 18 February 2011 Last updated at 22:33

    Bahrain troops ‘fire on crowds’

    Dr Bassem Deif, an orthopaedic surgeon at Salmaniya hospital, is treating wounded protesters

    Bahraini security forces have opened fire on anti-government protesters, witnesses and opposition activists say.

    The protesters were fired on after they had gathered in the capital Manama from the funerals of demonstrators killed in a security crackdown earlier this week.

    Witnesses said the army fired live rounds and tear gas, and officials said at least 120 people had been hurt.


  • The BBC’s Caroline Hawley, in Manama, says the funeral procession of one of the dead protesters turned into another anti-government demonstration.

    The mourners were trying to make their way to the Salmaniya Hospital, where their injured colleagues are being treated.

    Continue reading the main story

    But they came under fire as they passed close to Pearl Square, which has been sealed off by the army for the past day to prevent further large-scale demonstrations.

    An eyewitness told al-Jazeera TV that the authorities gave no warning.

    “They just started shooting us. Now there is more than 20 injured in the hospital. One guy has already passed away because he got shot in his head,” said the witness.

    One protester, 27-year-old bank clerk Ali al-Haji, told AP news agency that live ammunition was used.

    “People started running in all directions and bullets were flying, I saw people getting shot in the legs, chest and one man was bleeding from his head,” he said.

    AP earlier reported that soldiers had fired anti-aircraft guns over the heads of the protesters.

    Medical officials told the BBC that more than 120 people had been admitted to hospital after the clashes, many suffering the effects of tear gas, some with broken bones and one person who had been shot in the leg.

    Bahrain is ruled by a royal family and a Sunni Muslim elite, but has a Shia majority who make up the bulk of the protesters.

    International concern
    Earlier, the country’s most senior Shia cleric Sheikh Issa Qassem described attacks on protesters as a “massacre” and said the government had shut the door to dialogue.

    Continue reading the main story
    Mid-East unrest: Bahrain

    King Hamad, 61, has been in power since 1999
    Population 800,000; land area 717 sq km, or 100 times smaller than Irish Republic
    A population with a median age of 30.4 years, and a literacy rate of 91%
    Youth unemployment at 19.6%
    Gross national income per head: $25,420 (World Bank 2009)
    Country profile: Bahrain
    Protests: Country by country
    As he spoke at emotionally charged Friday prayers in the Duraz neighbourhood, supporters shouted “victory for Islam”, “death for Al Khalifa [the ruling family]” and “we are your soldiers”.

    Western countries have urged Bahrain to show restraint in dealing with protesters and called for meaningful reform in the small Gulf state kingdom.

    The UN’s rights chief Navi Pillay condemned the use of force by governments across the region, and singled out the Bahraini authorities for targeting medical workers while they were treating protesters.

    “The nature and scope of the human rights violations taking place in several countries in the region in response to those who are largely demonstrating peacefully for their fundamental human rights and freedoms is alarming,” she said.

    Since independence from the UK in 1971, tensions between the Sunni elite and the less affluent Shia have frequently caused civil unrest. Shia groups say they are marginalised, subject to unfair laws and repressed.

    Washington is watching with growing concern as unrest and violence spread across the Middle East, threatening its regional interests, correspondents say.

    While Bahrain is tiny, with a population of less than one million, it is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and is near another key US ally in the region, Saudi Arabia.


  • Published 12:33 20.02.11Latest update 12:33 20.02.11
    U.S. troops won’t be eager to leave the good life in Bahrain’s opulent villas

    The tiny island, home for 6,000 members of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, is indeed a paradise. If you’re a Sunni Muslim or a foreigner, that is.

    By Zvi Bar’el

    “You drive through a long desert road, pass a huge bridge and then, as if out of nowhere, a city with green gardens appears, with paved streets lined with villas and palm trees.” That’s the way in which a U.S. soldier described Bahrain in a letter to his parents.

    Pamphlets published by the U.S. Navy go into great detail as to the favors awaiting those serving in Bahrain. You can rent, for a reasonable price, one of many wonderful villas, equipped with either open-air or indoor swimming pools, squash and tennis courts, bowling lanes, hot tubs and saunas.

    Thousands of protesters gathering in Pearl Square in the heart of the Bahraini capital of Manama, February 20, 2011.

    Photo by: Reuters

    There’s also one of the finest education systems in the Arab world. And if that’s not enough, the U.S. government pays a risk-factor bonus worth $150 a-month, along with such perks as “morale and adaptation” vacations to Europe or Thailand, servants, and special bonuses for remote service.

    The tiny island which is the home of about a 1.2 million residents – aside from the 6,000 members of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, who also call it home – is indeed a paradise. If you’re a Sunni Muslim or a foreigner, that is.

    That’s because the constitutional monarchy, which is how the island’s ruler Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa likes to call it, isn’t completely Bahraini. About half its population is made up of foreigners, the biggest community being the country’s 290,000 Indian residents, alongside a tiny Jewish minority made up mostly by jewel traders.

    Even three out of the king’s four wives aren’t Bahraini. Two hail from Qatar, another from Kuwait, with the only members of the local monarchy being the mother of the kingdom’s heir to the throne.

    Within the Muslim population, 67 percent are Shi’ite, with Sunnis comprising the other 33 percent. This is another reason for recent violent protests in the kingdom, for the king treats the Shi’ite majority like a dangerous minority. When necessary, as was seen in the most recent protests, he also accuses Iran of attempting a Shi’ite overthrow of his country.

    It is for those reasons that it wasn’t so odd to see that pro-democracy demonstrators at the Pearl Square, most of whom were Shi’ite, pitted against a pro-monarchy demonstration comprised of Indian and Pakistani workers, who were ordered to raise the king’s image alongside the kingdom’s flag.

    However, this isn’t necessarily an ethnic dispute. In 2002, three years after assuming power from his father, Khalifa revolutionized the country’s constitution, appointed himself king and ordered parliamentary elections be held. That’s how Bahrain turned from an Emirate to a kingdom, and not just any kingdom at that: a democratic kingdom.

    Elections for regional council heads and mayors were held in May of that year, and in October parliamentary elections were held, forming a house of representatives according to the country’s new constitution: 40 representatives (which include only 18 Shi’ite) and an advisory council appointed by the king.

    In addition, a constitutional court was formed, which was to judge whether or not the laws legislated by the parliament were in accordance with the country’s constitution. It was also decided that men and women would have equal political rights, as well as the prohibition of any discrimination based on race, creed, or gender.

    On the face of it, then, it all seems promising and fair. In reality, however, the regime handled itself in a stern and uncompromising manner. Shi’ites could not be appointed to high-ranking government or military positions; the monarchy controls the media and mans about 80 percent of all governmental positions, including the cabinet itself; and while the parliament has the power to fire ministers, such a move would require the king’s authorization.

    The kingdom is protected by a small army of 9,000 soldiers, but the royal family is guarded by internal intelligence, an intricate assortment of forces founded by a British officer by the name of Ian Henderson, who was in charge of suppressing the Mau Mau uprising in 1960s Kenya.

    Henderson, whose modus operendi during the Kenyan revolt made him a wanted man in the U.K., is the one who advised the king to import Bedouins from Jordan and Syria in order to balance out the gap between Sunnis and Shi’ites. These new residents were immediately awarded luxury houses, generous grants and, of course, citizenship.

    It is this portion of the Bahraini population that is at the center of the Shi’ites’ complaints, wishing to even out their rights with those of the “newcomers.”

    While the king canceled the military courts, whose rulings could not be appealed, the judicial system is still led by one of the king’s aides, the one who appointed Egyptian judges for senior positions in the kingdom. These are the same judges responsible for the severe sentences given to opposition members.

    Over the weekend, the king offered to hold negotiations with protesters, after his tanks reoccupied the Peal Square. In the meantime, it seems that pro-democracy activists have no other choice. Here even the United States isn’t on their side. It is too concerned for its naval base.


  • US condemns violence

    Barack Obama, the US president, discussed the situation with King Al Khalifa of Bahrain, asking him to hold those responsible for the violence accountable. He said in a statement that Bahrain must respect the “universal rights'” of its people and embrace `”meaningful reform.”

    “I am deeply concerned about reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries and wherever else it may occur.

    “The United States urges the governments of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to show restraint in responding to peaceful protests and to respect the rights of their people.”

    Tents at Manama’s Pearl Roundabout were cleared of protesters by riot police in a raid on Thursday [Reuters]
    Riot police using clubs and tear gas broke up a crowd of protesters in the city’s financial district in a pre-dawn swoop on Thursday, killing at least four people and injuring more than 200.

    Al Jazeera’s correspondent, who cannot be named for security reasons, reported from Manama on Friday that thousands of people observed the funerals of those killed in the police raid on the protesters’ tents in the city’s Pearl Roundabout area.

    Many of those present chanted slogans against Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifa family. They said they were both grief-stricken and angry at the heavy-handedness of the police, and that they were demanding that the international community take notice of what they call the brutality of the security forces.

    As Friday prayers commenced, Sheikh Issa Qassem, a prominent Bahraini Shia Muslim religious leader, delivering his sermon in a northwestern village, described Thursday’s violence as a “massacre”.

    Our correspondent reported that Qassem said the government was attempting to create a “sectarian divide” between Sunnis and Shias. He advocated peaceful protests, saying “violence is the way of the government”, and that protesters should not espouse violent actions.

    The crowd at the funerals in Sitra were not as large as those seen during previous funerals, our correspondent reported.

    He said this was because of a heavy security presence on the streets, with police and army closing off roads across the country.

    No security forces personnel were reported to be present at Sitra on Friday, though a helicopter was seen hovering over the funeral procession.

    “Many of those who in the past came out [to protests] … are afraid. They’re frightened and they don’t want to turn up at a protest like this because they are fearful for their lives,” he said, citing an incident on February 15 in Manama, when at least one person was killed when police fired on a funeral procession.

    Country profile: Bahrain
    Our correspondent further said that while it was “almost impossible” to confirm a figure for those who had gone missing during Thursday’s crackdown, one opposition politician put the number at 70.

    Members of the opposition Al Wefaq party have withdrawn from the country’s parliament. The party says MPs will not rejoin if the government continues to disallow protests.

    Meanwhile, Bahraini state television showed pictures of a pro-government rally, attended by hundreds, taking place in Manama, despite the ban on public gatherings.

    Just hours after Thursday’s deadly police action, the military announced the ban, saying on state TV that it had “key parts” of Manama under its control.

    Khalid Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, justified the Pearl roundabout raid as necessary because the demonstrators were “polarising the country” and pushing it to the “brink of the sectarian abyss”.

    Speaking after meeting with his Gulf counterparts, he said the violence was “regrettable”.

    Two people had died in police firing on protesters prior to Thursday’s deadly police raid. Al Jazeera’s correspondent said that hospitals had been full of injured people after police raid, with the injured including nurses and doctors who had rushed to attend to the wounded.

    After several days of holding back, Bahrain’s Sunni Arab rulers unleashed a heavy crackdown, trying to stamp out the first anti-government upheaval to reach the Arab states of the Gulf since the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

    During the assault at the Pearl roundabout, police tore down the protesters’ tents, beating men and women inside and blasting some with shotgun sprays of bird-shot.

    The interior ministry claims that protesters were carrying swords, knives and other bladed instruments.

    The pre-dawn raid was a sign of how deeply the island’s Sunni monarchy fears the repercussions of a prolonged wave of protests, led by members of the country’s Shia majority but also joined by growing numbers of discontented Sunnis.

    UK to review arms sale

    Bahrain is a pillar of US military framework in the region: it hosts the US navy’s Fifth Fleet, which the US sees as a critical counterbalance to Iran’s military power.

    Bahrain’s rulers and their Sunni Arab allies depict any sign of unrest among their Shia Muslim populations as a move by neighbouring Shia-majority Iran to expand its clout in the region. The army would take every measure necessary to preserve security, the interior ministry said.

    Against this backdrop of continued unrest, Britain’s government has decided to revoke some of its arms export licenses to Bahrain. The Foreign Office said arms export licenses have also been revoked for Libya. A review for exports to Yemen is ongoing.

    The ministry’s statement on Friday did not specify what the arms exports were. It said licenses will not be issued when officials judge that there is a risk that the exports may provoke regional or internal conflicts or be used to facilitate internal repression. It added that it had no evidence that British exports were used to crackdown on protesters in Bahrain.


  • “We are getting shot by American weapons fired by American-trained Bahraini soldiers with American-made tanks”


    Robert Fisk: These are secular popular revolts – yet everyone is blaming religion
    Our writer, who was in Cairo as the revolution took hold in Egypt, reports from Bahrain on why Islam has little to do with what is going on


  • In Bahrain we have a special case. Here a Shia majority is ruled by a minority of pro-monarchy Sunni Muslims. Syria, by the way, may suffer from “Bahrainitis” for the same reason: a Sunni majority ruled by an Alawite (Shia) minority. Well, at least the West – in its sagging support for King Hamad of Bahrain – can point to the fact that Bahrain, like Kuwait, has a parliament. It’s a sad old beast, existing from 1973 to 1975 when it was dissolved unconstitutionally, and then reinvented in 2001 as part of a package of “reforms”. But the new parliament turned out to be even more unrepresentative than the first. Opposition politicians were harassed by state security, and parliamentary boundaries were gerrymandered, Ulster-style, to make sure that the minority Sunnis controlled it. In 2006 and 2010, for example, the main Shia party in Bahrain gained only 18 out of 40 seats. Indeed, there is a distinctly Northern Ireland feel to Sunni perspectives in Bahrain. Many have told me that they fear for their lives, that Shia mobs will burn their homes and kill them.

    All this is set to change. Control of state power has to be legitimised to be effective, and the use of live fire to overwhelm peaceful protest was bound to end in Bahrain in a series of little Bloody Sundays. Once Arabs learnt to lose their fear, they could claim the civil rights that Catholics in Northern Ireland once demanded in the face of RUC brutality. In the end, the British had to destroy Unionist rule and bring the IRA into joint power with Protestants. The parallels are not exact and the Shias do not (yet) have a militia, although the Bahraini government has produced photographs of pistols and swords – hardly a major weapon of the IRA – to support their contention that its opponents include “terrorists”.

    In Bahrain there is, needless to say, a sectarian as much as a secular battle, something that the Crown Prince unwittingly acknowledged when he originally said that the security forces had to suppress protests to prevent sectarian violence. It’s a view held all too savagely by Saudi Arabia, which has a strong interest in the suppression of dissent in Bahrain. The Shias of Saudi Arabia might get uppity if their co-religionists in Bahrain overwhelm the state. Then we’ll really hear the leaders of the Shia Islamic Republic of Iran crowing.

    Robert Fisk: These are secular popular revolts – yet everyone is blaming religion
    Our writer, who was in Cairo as the revolution took hold in Egypt, reports from Bahrain on why Islam has little to do with what is going on


  • The heir to the throne has been tasked by his father, King Hamad, with launching a wide-reaching dialogue with the opposition.

    But emboldened by a wave of Arab uprisings which have toppled the strongmen of Tunisia and Egypt since last month, the opposition has raised its stakes, demanding a “real constitutional monarchy” and the government’s resignation.

    Prime Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman, an uncle of the king, has held office ever since independence from Britain in 1971 and is widely despised by the opposition.

    “The government that was unable to protect its people must quit and those responsible for the massacres must be judged,” said Abdel Jalil Khalil Ibrahim, head of the parliamentary bloc of INAA, Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group. “The opposition does not refuse dialogue but they ask for a platform that is favourable to dialogue.


  • بحرین میں احتجاج کرتی ہزاروں خواتین پرل اسکوائر پہنچ گئیں

    مناما…اپنے حقوق کے حصول کی شمع دل میں جلائے بحرین کی ہزاروں خواتین احتجاج کرتی منامہ کے پرل اسکوائر پہنچ گئی ہیں۔ حکومت مخالف مظاہروں میں روایتی لباس پہنے،ہاتھوں مین جھنڈے اٹھائے،موم بتیاں تھامے، کندھے سے کندھا ملائے مظاہروں کی مرکزی جگہ پرل اسکوائر پرجمع ہوئیں، ان کا مطالبہ تھا کہ حکومت کومستعفی ہوجاناچاہیے، ہم سب ایک ہیں اور پڑھے لکھے ہیں اس لیے مظاہروں کے لیے جمع ہیں۔


  • اب سب کی نظریں بحرین پر جمی ہیں۔

    برسوں سے یہاں کا سنّی شاہی خاندان اس آبادی کو کنٹرول کرنے کی کوشش کر رہا ہے جس میں سے ستر فیصد شیعہ ہیں۔ یہاں کے حکمرانوں نے آبادی کا تناسب تبدیل کرنے کے لیے دوسرے ممالک سے سنّیوں کو بلایا ہے اور انہیں شہریت کے ساتھ ساتھ ملک کی سکیورٹی فورسز میں نوکریاں دی گئی ہیں۔

    سالوں تک ان ممالک نے جو اپنے ہاں جمہوریت اور انسانی حقوق کی بہتر صورتحال پر فخر کرتے ہیں، ان غیر جمہوری حکومتوں کی حمایت کی ہے جو اپنے عوام کو دبا کر رکھتی رہی ہیں۔ یہ جمہوری منافقت کا اہم اور کارآمد حصہ ہے۔لیکن اب مغربی ممالک کو ایک نئے مشرقِ وسطٰی کا سامنا ہوگا اور یہ کوئی نہیں جانتا کہ حالات کیا رخ اختیار کرنے والے ہیں۔

    بحرین سعودی عرب کے مشرقی صوبے سے جڑا ہوا ہے اور بحرینی شیعوں میں بےچینی سعودی عرب کے شاہی خاندان کے لیے بھی باعثِ تشویش ہے۔ سعودی عرب کا مشرقی صوبہ ہی وہ علاقہ ہے جہاں تیل کے بیشتر ذخائر ہیں اور یہاں شیعوں کی ایک بڑی تعداد آباد ہے۔

    شاید سعودی شاہی خاندان کو پریشان ہونا بھی چاہیے۔ بادشاہ اور ولی عہد دونوں معمر اور بیمار ہیں۔

    عرب دنیا میں حکومت مخالف مظاہروں کا سلسلہ شروع ہونے سے قبل ہی سعودی عرب میں شہزادوں کی اگلی نسل کو اقتدار کی منتقلی کے حوالے سے فکر پائی جا رہی تھی۔ اور اگر سعودی فکرمند ہیں تو آپ اس حساب کتاب کا اندازہ لگا سکتے ہیں جو واشنگٹن، لندن اور دیگر مغربی دارالحکومتوں میں لگایا جا رہا ہوگا۔


  • The signs on Tuesday were somewhat optimistic, as the President warned all regional leaders that they should “get ahead of the wave of protest” by moving towards democracy as quickly as possible. Yet Obama refused to mention Bahrain by name in his press conference, even as the government was cracking down on the protesters.

    Instead, the US president argued that “each country is different, each country has its own traditions; America can’t dictate how they run their societies,” an utterly meaningless declaration since it contradicts the very advocacy of democracy that the President has made out of the other side of his mouth.

    And now, once again, in the wake of government violence against peaceful citizens, the Obama administration stands silent, refusing to openly condemn the Bahraini government. Is the administration incapable of learning from mistakes in the immediate past ?

    In fact, Bahrain isn’t even the most important country where the ambivalence of US democracy advocacy continues to frustrate real change.


  • Maryam Al Khawaja, a representative of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said she was there to document any crackdown.

    “I hope they don’t make the same mistake again of using violence against peaceful protesters,” said Al Khawaja, who narrowly escaped Thursday morning’s attack.

    Behind her was brand new graffiti on the base of giant Pearl sculpture in the centre of the roundabout. Arabic writing expressed the same slogan that has reverberated across the Middle East, from Tunisia and Egypt to Libya and Bahrain: “Ash-sha’ab, yurid, isqat an-nizam” (the people want the regime to fall).

    “If they don’t accept the calls for reform, perhaps in 10 years we will be seeing the same thing as today. We want freedom, human rights that will benefit all Bahrain – not just the Shia,” said Al Khawaja.

    The victory made the protesters feel a little more emboldened. Throngs of women sit in a group, forming a sea of black in the faint light of dusk. Amina, sat with her four-year-old niece on her lap. They were both smiling.

    “I’m so happy, I can feel freedom. I don’t care if it’s not safe; I’ll stay here. I won’t leave like last time,” she said.

    Her friend Fatma added: “We don’t know what will happen. Last time I brought my children, but not today. Then I trusted the King, but not this time.”

    “Don’t worry, we’ll stay,” responded Amina, “Here we have a message for the Shuhada: we’re here, we’re back. You gave your lives, and they killed you. But we’re here, and we will stay.”

    Another protester, Noor, her face veiled, was just as defiant.

    “There is no fear. That’s the most important thing now in Bahrain. No matter what the government tries, even if it brings in foreign troops, we won’t be beaten. This will be a victory for us, I’m sure.”


  • 22 February 2011 Last updated at 10:42 Share this pageFacebookTwitter ShareEmail Print
    Bahrain King orders prisoner release

    Redha Mohammed’s son rode on his father’s coffin in Manama
    Continue reading the main story
    Mid-East Unrest

    Mid-East and North Africa unrest Live
    The Gaddafi family tree
    Do Libya’s tribal ties matter?
    Crackdown backfires
    Thousands of Bahrainis are attending the funeral of a Shia protester, a day after King Hamad ordered that a number of political prisoners be freed.

    The freeing of dissidents is a key demand of pro-democracy protesters who have occupied Manama’s Pearl Square for much of the week.

    It comes as opposition parties called for a rally later on Tuesday – their first official backing of the protests.

    Organisers say it could draw the largest crowds to date.

    The pro-democracy supporters remain camped out in Pearl Square, in the city centre, refusing to enter talks with the Crown Prince until their demands are met.

    Aside from the prisoner release – no details of which were given – they want the government to resign, the deaths of protesters to be investigated, and political reforms that will lead to a constitutional monarchy.

    Some protesters have also called on King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifah to step down.

    Seven people were killed and many wounded in the past week as security forces used force to quell protests, before being ordered to withdraw on Saturday.

    Funeral march
    Continue reading the main story
    Mid-East unrest: Bahrain

    King Hamad, 61, has been in power since 1999
    Population 800,000; land area 717 sq km, or 100 times smaller than Irish Republic
    A population with a median age of 30.4 years, and a literacy rate of 91%
    Youth unemployment at 19.6%
    Gross national income per head: $25,420 (World Bank 2009)
    Country profile: Bahrain
    Resentment boils over
    Global concerns over Bahrain
    Earlier today, thousands joined the funeral procession of Redha Mohammed as it wound its way through the streets of Manama while mourners chanted anti-government slogans, the AFP news agency reported.

    The 20-year-old died of his wounds on Monday after he was shot by police while attending another funeral march three days earlier, his family said.

    The mass rally called for Tuesday afternoon has been dubbed “the march of loyalty to martyrs,” said Ibrahim al-Sharif, a Sunni secularist opposition activist.

    The marches come after pro-government Sunnis rallied in their thousands at a Manama mosque on Monday evening, pledging loyalty to the al-Khalifa royal family, and calling on protesters to answer an invitation by Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad to engage in wide-ranging talks on political reform.

    Bahrain is one of several Arab countries to have experienced pro-democracy demonstrations since the fall of long-time Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was forced from power on 11 February.

    The majority Shia population in Bahrain have long said they are discriminated against when it comes to housing and government jobs. They have also been calling for greater political rights from the Sunni royal family.

    But the protesters have been careful to describe their revolt as non-sectarian, chanting slogans such as: “There are no Sunnis or Shias, just Bahraini unity.”


  • 5,000 Teachers in Bahrain join protests
    English.news.cn 2011-02-22 19:39:02 FeedbackPrintRSS
    MANAMA, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) — Thousands of public school teachers in Bahrain have vowed to continue their general strike to support anti-government protestors, who managed to force authorities to give up the Formula one race scheduled for next month.

    Protestors, camping at the Pearl Roundabout now dubbed as ” Martyrs’ Square”, got further inspired after more than 5,000 teachers in government schools and hundreds of medical staff joined the protest.

    “We will not resume our duties until the demand of the protestors are fulfilled,” said Bahrain Teachers Society (BTS) president, Mahdi AbuDeeb.

    “All options are open at the moment and the response we have received is overwhelming with thousands of teachers not going to work,” he told Xinhua.

    Education ministry already announced it was accepting applications for volunteers and retired educators to cope with the shortage of teachers. It said the schools situated in the Capital and Northern Governorate were most affected with low attendance of staff and students.

    Seven people have died since the wave of protests that started from Egypt and spread to Bahrain last week. Meanwhile, Shiite protestors camped out in thousands at the landmark in the city center continued with their unity slogans shouting “No Shiite.. No Sunni. Only Bahraini.”

    “We do not want to change the regime. But we want some equality in political, social and economic sphere. The youth want jobs, families want housing, activists want political prisoners to be released and stop blocking internet,” said Saad Samaheej, 23, who has been camping with his comrades for three days now.

    On Monday night, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa ordered political prisoners to be freed in a bid to pour cold water over the brewing tensions on the street against the leadership.

    According to sources, some of those granted amnesty are Shiite protestors arrested during the unrest and people suspected for being a part of terror cells.

    One of them includes senior opposition leader Shaikh Hassan Mushaima, who is expected to return to Bahrain from London Tuesday.

    Sources told Xinhua that the leader was returning before the dialogue process starts between the opposition groups and the government.

    Bahrain, a close U.S. ally is home to its Navy’s Fifth Fleet.


  • Tension escalates in Bahrain as hard-line Shiite leader urges end to monarchy

    PHOTOS Previous Next

    Tens of thousands of government supporters gather for a demonstration at the Al Fateh mosque in Manama. (John Moore)

    Network NewsXPROFILE

    View More Activity
    Resize Print E-mail
    Yahoo! Buzz Reprints

    By Michael Birnbaum and Janine Zacharia
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Tuesday, February 22, 2011
    MANAMA, BAHRAIN – A key hard-line Shiite leader called for an end to Bahrain’s monarchy on Monday and another made plans to fly back to the country on Tuesday, escalating tension and threatening to open fissures in the opposition as protests stretch into a second week.

    Bahrain’s crown prince called off a mid-March Formula One race, a major source of revenue and pride for the government and a sign that this tiny nation’s leaders do not expect the conflict to end soon.

    Many moderates encamped at the Pearl Square roundabout in Manama said on Monday that they simply want Bahrain’s royal family to look more like Britain’s and that the country’s Shia majority deserves the same opportunities as the minority, who, like the royal family, are Sunni.

    But calls for the royal family to go escalated on Monday, and it remained unclear what changes would be necessary to satisfy protesters – and even who could credibly negotiate on their behalf.

    “The government goes back on its promises,” said Ghadeer Kadhim, 34, who works in an oil field and was in Pearl Square. He said he is not convinced that Al Wefaq, the main Shiite political party, can speak for protesters. He said he wants equal opportunities for Shiites.

    “They say we are loyal to Iran,” he said. “That’s not true. We are loyal to this land.”

    But outside Manama in poorer Shiite villages, where the modest but tidy homes receive fewer government services such as road maintenance and streetlights, calls for the king’s ouster grew stronger.

    In an interview at his home in Nuwaidrat, a village south of Manama, Abdulwahab Hussain said that he and the officially illegal Wafa movement that he founded would not accept any deal short of the king’s departure.

    “The people are now asking the regime to step down,” he said. After the violence of the past week, “the regime doesn’t have the legitimacy to be ruling the people.”

    Analysts and moderate political leaders said that those calls could further radicalize the opposition and that the situation could grow even more tense with the planned return Tuesday of the secretary general of Haq, the other large hard-line Shiite opposition movement. Hassan Mushaima was a leader in a major Shiite uprising in Bahrain in 1994 and has been living in London since last year after seeking medical treatment.

    “If he is arrested, it’s going to cause a lot of problems. If he is denied entry, it also could cause a lot of problems,” said Jassim Hussain, a member of Al Wefaq, which is seeking more moderate political reforms, including transforming King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa into a constitutional monarch.

    Hussain’s party, which fears alienating protesters in the roundabout by entering into talks with the government, was still deliberating on Monday whether to meet with Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa.

    Political observers said that the hard-liners remained marginal, but that the crown prince is harming the chances of a successful dialogue with Hussain’s party by not offering to speak with them.

    “If any mistake is committed now by the Wefaq people, it means that popular support . . . might shift” toward hard-liners, said Mansoor al-Jamri, editor in chief of the independent Bahraini newspaper, Al Wasat.

    “The shouting now of bringing down the monarchy is only taking place because everybody is very angry at the killing of people. Many of them could be tamed down if there’s a credible response from the ruling family,” Jamri said.

    In Manama on Monday night, streets were gridlocked with thousands of cars streaming toward Pearl Square and to a competing government-organized rally at the city’s Al Fateh mosque. Village streets outside the capital city were deserted, as everyone had gone into the city to rally for one side or another.

    A major opposition protest is planned for Tuesday afternoon at Pearl Square. Also planned for Tuesday is the funeral of zoo worker Abdul al-Redha, who died Monday after being shot by Bahrain’s military last week.

    birnbaumm@washpost.com zachariaj@washpost.com


  • In Manama’s upscale diplomatic quarter, hundreds of cars jammed the roads for a demonstration in support of the ruling family. In an hourlong speech there, Abdul Latif al-Mahmood, a prominent Sunni cleric, called for national unity. He warned foreign states not to interfere in Bahraini affairs and cautioned antigovernment protesters that they don’t speak for the people. “This is our hand reaching out to you, so we can work together,” he said, to whoops and chants of “Long live the king” and “Long live the prime minister.”

    “But we [don’t support] changes to [the] constitution that cause trouble between the sects,” he said.

    U.S. officials said they believed Bahrain was moving in a positive direction and that Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa had taken a more active role in coordinating a response to the unrest. The Obama administration was caught off guard last week by the crackdown and believed more conservative members of the Bahraini royal family were running the security forces.

    U.S. officials said they were pressing the crown prince to follow through on the sweeping reforms he promised in a Saturday speech as an essential step find common ground with the political opposition.

    “There’s a mix of views inside Bahrain’s leadership on the proper course, and this is being sorted out,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on Bahrain. “They’ve bought themselves some time, but now they need to ante up. There’s a great disparity between the Shiites and Sunnis.”

    View Full Image

    Getty Images
    A Bahraini woman mourns over the body of a 20-year-old demonstrator killed during last week’s police crackdown in Manama’s Pearl Square.

    Saudi Arabia, with its own large Shiite minority, and connected to the island kingdom by a short causeway, has voiced concern over the unrest. A senior Saudi official Saturday pledged that Riyadh stands “with all its capabilities behind the state and the brotherly people of Bahrain,” according to the Saudi press agency.

    Protest organizers and participants have stressed the nonsectarian and secular nature of their demands for democratic reforms, and their independence from any Iranian or pan-Shiite agenda.

    Sheik Ali Salman, the head of Shiite opposition group Wefaq, said portraying the protests as an Iranian-backed Shiite uprising is a “political tactic” by the royal family to win sympathy and support from other Sunni-dominated Gulf monarchies.

    But in Karzakan, a Shiite suburb of the capital Manama, fresh leaflets bearing portraits of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and of Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah are plastered on the walls.

    That is likely to raise fresh alarm in Bahrain and in Sunni-dominated Arab states across the region. Many Saudi watchers say the possibility of intervention from Riyadh—including militarily—is a real one should protests persist or gain strength.

    U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen said concern about Iran’s role in Middle East protests dominated his meetings with Saudi military officials.

    Adm. Mullen, who arrived in Saudi Arabia on Sunday as part of a week in the Middle East, said to reporters after his talks with Saudi officials on Monday that the U.S. and its Middle Eastern allies are wary about how Iran may be trying to take advantage of the pro-democracy protests. Tehran “continues to foment instability in the region and take advantage of every opportunity,” Adm. Mullen said.

    Adm. Mullen, the top U.S. uniformed military officer, left Monday night for Qatar. He is also due to visit the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti and Kuwait. Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for Mullen, said in an email message that a stop in Bahrain could be added.

    “There are always concerns in this region with Iran. Certainly the United States has them, as well as all the regional players,” Adm. Mullen said, according to comments reported on the Department of Defense Web site and confirmed by the chairman’s aides. “Certainly that was part of the discussion today with the Saudis.”

    Adm. Mullen made clear he doesn’t believe Iran has played any role in supporting the protests in Tunisia and Egypt. But many Saudi officials believe Iran pushed the Shiite majority in Bahrain to protest against the Sunni monarchy that rules the small Island kingdom.

    “Obviously the Saudis, in particular—but everybody in the region—is watching what’s happening in Bahrain very closely,” Adm. Mullen said.

    —Julian E. Barnes in Washington and Angus McDowall in Dubai contributed to Jay Solomon contributed to this article.
    Write to Joe Parkinson at joe.parkinson@dowjones.com and Sam Dagher at sam.dagher@wsj.com


  • Robert Fisk

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    Saudi Arabia is fearful that gains by the Shia majority in Bahrain will provoke the Shia minority in Saudi Arabia to demand reforms
    8 hours ago Favorite Reply Delete

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    it is now clear that many soldiers in the “Bahraini” army R not Bahrainis but Pakistanis, many had trained in their own country’s army
    8 hours ago

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    Stun gun cartridges: “DISPO PROP 200M 02-SAE-08 2 BANG Delay 1,5S NIC – 07/07-03 2 KNALL VZ 1,5” US, UK France major arms suppliers #Bahrain
    8 hours ago

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    1 rubber-bullet cartridge, & Bahrainis have died from them: “NonLethal Technologies, Homer City, PA 15748 USA, Solid Rubber Baton, MP-4-R3.”
    8 hours ago

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    a distinct note of anger when Shia men & women found, amid protesters’ camp destroyed, tear-gas & baton rounds imported from the US #Bahrain

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    Fisk: I asked a govt official in Manama, Why not an elected PM? he said. “The GCC would never permit this.” For GCC, read Saudi Arabia.

  • Blooms replace bullets in Bahrain, while the region hits boiling point
    Shias retake Pearl Square as forces withdraw after two days of bloodshed, but there is fury as US munitions are found

    By Robert Fisk in Bahrain

    Chanting, singing and waving roses, Bahrain’s Shia Muslims ran in their tens of thousands back into Pearl Square in the centre of Manama yesterday after two days of bloodshed as police and soldiers battled to keep them from the streets of the capital. The army’s tanks withdrew from the area – Bahrain’s version of Cairo’s Tahrir Square – in the morning, and then more than a thousand riot police, standing in ranks before the democracy protesters, suddenly retreated. Several of them ran away in front of us, pursued by women in chadors waving flowers.

    Just why the Bahraini military, after firing live bullets into the crowds 24 hours earlier, allowed the protesters to take back the square yesterday was a mystery to many of them. Perhaps Crown Prince Salman ben Hamad al-Khalifa, who appealed to both the protesters and his own soldiers and police to show restraint on Friday night, believed that a return to the mini-insurrection in the square earlier this week would persuade the Shia opposition to open negotiations with the royal family. Indeed, Prince Salman appeared on television last night to say that talks with the opposition had begun and that “a new era” had started in the history of Bahrain.

    Perhaps the Crown Prince was forced to end the brutality of the security forces after more calls from the White House. “This nation is not for only one section – it is not for Sunnis or Shias,” he said in a state television broadcast. “It is for Bahrain and for Bahrainis.” Opposition MPs had demanded a withdrawal of army tanks from the square, along with police units, as a condition of opening talks with the royal family. But yesterday afternoon, many of those who stormed joyously towards the giant concrete pearl monument had gone much further in their aspirations, wanting the abolition of the monarchy itself.

    Many held posters bearing the faces of Saddam Hussein, ex-Egyptian president Mubarak and former Tunisian dictator Bin Ali, all of the portraits crossed out alongside a picture of King Hamad and the words “Down, Down Hamad.” Crowds sang “go away Khalifas” and said that only a new constitution and the trial of police and soldiers who had fired at them with live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas grenades would satisfy them. There was also a distinct note of anger with America when Shia men and women found – amid the debris of the protesters’ camp destroyed by the police early on Thursday – dozens of tear-gas and baton rounds imported from the United States. One rubber-bullet cartridge – and Bahrainis have died from these weapons – carried its manufacturer’s identity and military codes: “NonLethal Technologies, Homer City, PA 15748 USA, http://www.nonlethaltechnologies.com, Solid Rubber Baton, MP-4-R3.” Cartridges from a stun gun carried the coding “DISPO PROP 200M 02-SAE-08 2 BANG Delay 1,5S NIC – 07/07-03 2 KNALL VZ 1,5”. It was unclear if this weapon was made in the US, Britain or France – all major arms suppliers to Bahrain.

    Many of the protesters who “re-took” the central square yesterday were still asking how Bahraini troops could have shot at their own citizens on Friday. However, it is now clear that many soldiers in the “Bahraini” army are not Bahrainis at all but Pakistanis, many of whom had trained in their own country’s army – and who had no hesitation at all in shooting at their own fellow Pakistanis as well as at the Taliban in the massive offensives against the Taliban over the past three years. Speaking Urdu, Pushtu – even Baluch – these men also make up a core unit of the Emirates army. In any event, these soldiers had disappeared from Pearl Square. But are they to return?

    Saudi Arabia is only one of the Gulf states fearful that gains by the Shia majority in Bahrain will provoke the Shia minority in Saudi Arabia to demand reforms identical to their co-religionists in the tiny nation that borders the Saudi kingdom. And if President Obama was insisting that there should be no more violence by the Bahraini security forces, you can be sure that the Saudis would have been advising the opposite. Last night, the Shias appeared to have won the right to occupy the square again; but whether the police will allow them to keep their encampment, which was already being resupplied with tents yesterday evening, is quite another matter.


  • Robert Fisk in Manama: Bahrain – an uprising on the verge of revolution
    The protesters who are calling for an end to royal rule are in no mood to compromise

    Monday, 21 February 2011

    Bahrain is not Egypt. Bahrain is not Tunisia. And Bahrain is not Libya or Algeria or Yemen. True, the tens of thousands gathering again yesterday at the Pearl roundabout – most of them Shia but some of them Sunni Muslims – dressed themselves in Bahraini flags, just as the Cairo millions wore Egyptian flags in Tahrir Square.

    But this miniature sultanist kingdom is not yet experiencing a revolution. The uprising of the country’s 70 per cent – or is it 80 per cent? – Shia population is more a civil rights movement than a mass of republican rebels, but Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa had better meet their demands quickly if he doesn’t want an insurrection.

    Indeed, the calls for an end to the entire 200-year-old Khalifa family rule in Bahrain are growing way ahead of the original aims of this explosion of anger: an elected prime minister, a constitutional monarchy, an end to discrimination. The cries of disgust at the Khalifas are much louder, the slogans more incendiary; and the vast array of supposedly opposition personalities talking to the Crown Prince is far behind the mood of the crowds who were yesterday erecting makeshift homes – tented, fully carpeted, complete with tea stalls and portable lavatories – in the very centre of Manama. The royal family would like them to leave but they have no intention of doing so. Yesterday, thousands of employees of the huge Alba aluminium plant marched to the roundabout to remind King Hamad and the Crown Prince that a powerful industrial and trade union movement now lies behind this sea of largely Shia protesters.

    Yet Crown Prince Salman talks more about stability, calm, security and “national cohesion” than serious electoral and constitutional reform. Is he trying to “do a Mubarak” and make promises – genuine ones for the moment, perhaps, but kingly pledges do tend to fade with “stability” and time – which will not be met?

    In an interview with CNN, he acknowledged the Belfast parallels, exclaiming that “what we don’t want to do, like in Northern Ireland, is to descend into militia warfare or sectarianism”. But the crazed shooting of the Bahraini army on Thursday evening – 50 wounded, three critically, one already pronounced brain dead – was a small-size Bloody Sunday and it didn’t take long for the original civil rights movement in Northern Ireland to be outrun by a new IRA. Clearly, the royal family has been shocked at the events of the last week. Sultan al-Khalifa’s admission that “this is not the Bahrain I know, I never thought I would see the day that something like this would happen” proves as much. But his words suggest that this huge manifestation of public fury was merely provoked by television pictures of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. For the record, the Shia rebellion against the country’s Sunni rulers has been going on for years, with hundreds of political prisoners tortured in four prisons in and around Manama, their tormentors often from the Jordanian army – just as many Bahraini soldiers come from the Punjab and Baluchistan in Pakistan. Yesterday, there were repeated demands for the release of political prisoners, banners carrying photographs of young men who are still in jail years after their original sentencing: they run into the hundreds.

    Then there are the disturbing stories of the refrigerated trucks which reportedly took dozens of corpses for secret burial, perhaps in Saudi Arabia. These could be part of the carapace of rumour that has settled over the events of the past few days, but now some of the names of the disappeared – men who were present at the shootings near the Pearl roundabout last week – are known.

    Twelve of their names have just been released. So where is 14-year-old Ahmed Salah Issa, Hossein Hassan Ali, aged 18, Ahmed Ali Mohsen, 25 and Badria Abda Ali, a woman of unknown age? And where is Hani Mohamed Ali, 27, Mahdi al-Mahousi, 24, Mohamed Abdullah, 18, Hamed Abdullah al-Faraj, 21, Fadel Jassem, 45, and Hossein Salman, 48? English residents of a nearby apartment block were warned before the shooting that if they took photographs of the soldiers, they would be shot.

    Matar Ibrahim, one of 18 Bahrain Shia MPs, agrees that there is an increasing gap now between demonstrators and the official political opposition that is being sought out by Crown Prince Salman.

    “We are waiting for an initiative from the Crown Prince,” he told me. “He has not mentioned reform or constitutional monarchy and a fully elected parliament. If people have a properly elected government, including the prime minister, they will blame their representatives if things go wrong. Now, they blame the King.

    “What we are suggesting is a removal of the barriers between the people and the ruling family. When Hillary Clinton came to Bahrain, I told her that we don’t want to see the US 5th Fleet in Bahrain [its military headquarters] as an obstacle to change, but currently, Bahrain is the worst strategic ally for the US.”

    The head of the Alba factory trade union, Ali Bin Ali – who is a Sunni – warned that his members could go on strike if they wanted to. “Now that people have been shot down on the roads, we will be political,” he said.

    Which, of course, is not what the Crown Prince wants to hear.


  • Regional implications of the unrest in Bahrain became more obvious when U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Manama on March 12 and urged the Bahraini regime to implement bold reforms. Gates said Iranian interference would become a greater possibility if Bahrain fails to do so. While Bahrain and Saudi Arabia seem to be coordinating to avoid that possibility, it is not without risks. Leader of hardliner al-Haq movement, Hassan Mushaima, who is believed to be increasing the Shiite unrest in Bahrain by Iranian support, said on Feb. 28 that Saudi intervention in Bahrain would give Iran the same right to intervene as well. A scenario of regional Sunni Arab forces cracking down on Shia would apply pressure on Iran to respond more overtly, but its military ability is limited and it is a very risky option given the U.S. 5th fleet is stationed in Bahrain. As of this writing, there is no sign that Iranian military is taking steps toward that end, however, the situation on the ground could escalate if Shia in Bahrain ramp up demonstrations.

    Source: Stratfor, March 14, 2011 http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110314-saudi-intervention-bahrain

  • US review

    The White House, which considers Bahrain a key ally, condemned Sunday’s violence, urging the government to “pursue a peaceful and meaningful dialogue with the opposition rather than resorting to the use of force.”

    The Wall Street Journal reported that the US state department is “investigating the actions of the Bahraini police and ministry of interior forces” as part of a broader review of US military aid to the region.

    There is a federal law which bars the US government from providing military aid to security forces which commit human rights abuses, though that requirement is often ignored.

    Bahrain received roughly $19 million in military aid from the US in 2010, and expects to receive a similar amount this year.

    But apart from rhetorical condemnation, the US has yet to take any action against Bahrain’s government.

    Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, met with King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in Manama on Saturday, and while he urged political reforms, he also praised Bahrain’s government for moving ahead with “a process of reform while sustaining stability and continuity.”

    The British foreign office, meanwhile, said on Sunday that its citizens should avoid all travel to the Gulf kingdom.


  • USA’s consent?

    The Invasion of Bahrain
    by craig on March 14, 2011 2:38 pm in Uncategorized
    A senior diplomat in a western mission to the UN in New York, who I have known over ten years and trust, has told me for sure that 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.

    The hideous King of Bahrain has called in troops from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait to attack pro-democracy protestors in Bahrain.

    Can you imagine the outrage if Gadaffi now called in the armies of Chad. Mali and Burkina Faso to attack the rebels in Ben Ghazi?

    But do you think that those in power, who rightly condemn Gadaffi’s apparent use of foreign mercenaries, will condemn this use of foreign military power by oil sheiks to crush majority protestors in Bahrain? Of course they won’t. We just had Sky News rationalising it by telling us that the Gulf Cooperation Council have a military alliance that a state can call in help if attacked. But that does not mean attacked by its own, incidentally unarmed, people. NATO is a military alliance. It does not mean Cameron could call in US troops to gun down tuition fees protestors in Parliament Square.

    This dreadful outrage by the Arab sheikhs will be swallowed silently by the West because they are “our” bastards, they host our troops and they buy our weapons.

    I do hope this latest development will open the eyes of those duped into supporting western intervention in Libya, who believe those who control the western armies are motivated by humanitarian concern. Bahrain already had foreign forces in it – notably the US fifth fleet. Do you think that Clinton and Obama will threaten that they will intervene if foreign armies are let loose on pro-democracy demonstrators? No they won’t.

    Whether this will have any effect on the railroading of public opinion behind military intervention in Libya remains to be seen. I am fascinated to hear, for example, whether Ming Campbell and Phillippe Sands, who wrote of Our Duty To Protect The Libyan People , also believe we have a duty to pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain to protect them from attack by foreign forces.

    We know from Iraq and Afghanistan, Serbia, Lebanon and Gaza that the “collateral damage” from the initial bombing of Libyan air defences will kill more people than are dying already in the terrible situation in Libya. While a no-fly zone would help rebel morale, most of the actual damage rebels are sustaining is from heavy artillery; without a no tank, no artillery and no gunboat zone, a no-fly zone will not in itself tip the military balance.

    It appears that getting rid of Gadaffi may be a longer slog than we would like, but an attempt at a quick fix will lead to another Iraq, and give him an undeserved patriotic mantle. It was former UK Ambassador to Libya, Oliver Miles who said western military intervention in Libya should be avoided above all because of the law of unintended consequences. One consequence has happened already, unintended by the liberals who fell in behind the calls for military attacks on Gadaffi. They helped cause the foreign military suppression of democracy in Bahrain. For Clinton and Obama, it is a win-win forwarding US foreign policy on both Libya and the Gulf, where they don’t want democracy.

    People of good heart should weep.


  • If the Saudi government accedes to America’s request to send guns and missiles to Libyan rebels, however, it would be almost impossible for President Barack Obama to condemn the kingdom for any violence against the Shias of the north-east provinces.

    Thus has the Arab awakening, the demand for democracy in North Africa, the Shia revolt and the rising against Gaddafi become entangled in the space of just a few hours with US military priorities in the region.


  • Bahrain Uprising::5th Fleet:: Pakistan Army Cheif General Kayani-Mullen meeting:: and Iran

    by إرحل يا ملك البحرين حمد بن عيسى آل خليفة on Friday, February 25, 2011 at 9:34am

    In my opinion Americans would have discussed Yemen and Bahrain’s situation and Kayani would have been asked to send his troops to help Saudi-Bahraini-Yemni kings to counter uprisings in these countries. As Bahrain’s a Shia majority country so it’s obvious that role of Iran in the Gulf region would also been discussed.General Kayani met with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen recently, A website says U.S., Pakistan military chiefs hold secret talks in Oman. and today Admiral Mullen has arrived in Bahrain.Top US military officer Mike Mullen arrived in Bahrain on Thursday, an AFP reporter said, as anti-regime protests gathered steam in the kingdom, where Washington’s Fifth Fleet is based.”Obviously Bahrain has been important to us for decades,” Mullen told reporters shortly before his arrival in Manama.”They are a critical ally and have been for a long time,” he added.Mullen’s visit is part of a regional tour aimed at “reaffirming, reassuring and also trying to understand where the leaderships of these countries are going, and in particular in Bahrain,” the admiral said. Mullen is scheduled to meet Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, whom the United States has praised for taking “positive steps” to reach out to protesters.Bahrain is the home base of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.One of the most important U.S. Navy bases in the world is located a few miles from the site of the mass protests in Bahrain: the headquarters of the Fifth Fleet. There are presently more than 2,000 American military personnel, and several thousand more support contractors working in the 100-acre command facility in Jaffair suburb of the capital city of Manama. If one includes their families, then the U.S. military community in Bahrain exceeds 6,000 people.The key issue here isn’t simply a base. That’s part of it,” says defense analyst Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “But the key issue is Bahrain’s strategic position and the overall security of the area.”That strategic position is right in the middle of the Persian Gulf. So, Cordesman says, U.S. warships can ensure the flow of oil, keep an eye on Iran just across the Gulf and pursue Somali pirates farther to the south.


  • Times Topic: Middle East Protests (2010-11)
    ¶ “This is about dignity and freedom — it’s not about filling our stomachs,” said Ebrahim Sharif, a former banker who helped lead a protest on Sunday at the gates of a government building.

    ¶ Protesters in Bahrain have held daily demonstrations for the past three weeks, undeterred by a government crackdown that killed seven people. The protests continued on Sunday, with thousands of people gathering in Manama’s Pearl Square, the epicenter of the movement.

    ¶ Bahrain’s Interior Ministry announced over the weekend that it was seeking to hire 20,000 people, a measure it said was designed to benefit job seekers and improve security in the country, which is home to a United States naval base.

    ¶ The oil-rich countries of the gulf, led by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, are also reportedly considering a plan to provide billions of dollars to Bahrain and Oman as part of an effort to address social problems and quell protests.

    ¶ The recent spike in oil prices has given Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, and its neighbors more scope for handouts and subsidies, part of a longstanding tradition of trading cash for domestic peace.

    ¶ As protests have spread across the Arab world, the Persian Gulf countries have opened their wallets more than usual.

    ¶King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia last month announced $37 billion worth of pay raises, unemployment checks and other benefits. The king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, offered 1,000 dinars, about $2,600, for each family. In January, the government of Kuwait said each citizen would receive the equivalent of $3,500. And last week the sultan of Oman decreed that anyone without a job would be eligible for a monthly stipend of $375.

    ¶ But in Bahrain and Oman, monetary concessions have yet to assuage protesters.

    ¶ More than 100,000 people — about one in five Bahraini citizens — joined a protest in Manama on Friday where many shouted “Down, Down Hamad!” The king’s family, which is Sunni, has ruled the Shiite-majority country for more than two centuries.

    ¶ Smaller protests have also continued in Sohar, a northern industrial city in Oman, which is ruled by Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

    ¶ “Poor people took the money, but are still insisting on getting political reform,” said Abdul Jalil Khalil Ebrahim, a senior member of Wefaq, the largest opposition party in Bahrain.

    ¶ Mr. Ebrahim says future payments in Bahrain by regional governments will be diminished by corruption and may not reach the people who need them. In addition, the cash does not address the central demands of protesters — for democracy.

    ¶ “They are throwing slogans to absorb the anger of people,” Mr. Ebrahim said of the government, which is controlled by Bahrain’s royal family. “But the core of this is political, not financial.”

    ¶ In response to e-mailed questions, Maysoon Sabkar, a spokeswoman for Bahrain’s government, said that support from the gulf countries and the initiative to create jobs at the Interior Ministry were “not aimed at ending protests in Bahrain, but they do form part of an overall program to make necessary improvements for the benefit of all.”

    ¶ Ms. Sabkar reiterated that the government’s main focus was a proposal for a national dialogue.

    ¶ The opposition has refused to negotiate until the government, led by the king’s uncle, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, steps down. The prime minister has been in power 40 years.

    ¶ The opposition says it plans to ratchet up pressure on the government in the coming weeks. The protests have damaged tourism and the financial industry, said Mr. Sharif, the former banker, who now heads a secular opposition party known as Wa’ad.

    ¶ “We will see every week another activity that will take the momentum higher,” Mr. Sharif said in an interview on Sunday. “We are attacking peacefully all the institutions of the state.”


  • U.S. says Saudi forces in Bahrain “not an invasion”

    WASHINGTON | Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:23pm EDT

    (Reuters) – The United States does not consider the entry into Bahrain of Saudi Arabian security forces an invasion, the White House said on Monday.

    Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia sent about 1,000 troops into Bahrain to protect government facilities after mainly Shi’ite protesters overran police and blocked roads.

    “We’ve seen the reports that you’re talking about. This is not an invasion of a country,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told a news briefing.

    “We urge the government of Bahrain, as we have repeatedly, as well as other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, to exercise restraint,” Carney added.

    The Gulf Cooperation Council comprises Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

    (Writing by Caren Bohan; editing by John Whitesides)


  • US turns blind eye to invasion of Bahrain
    Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:36AM
    Share | Email | Print

    White House spokesman Jay Carney
    The US refuses to term as an invasion the several Persian Gulf states’ deployment of troops to Bahrain to quell the popular uprising against the island’s monarchical rule.

    “This is not an invasion of a country,” White House spokesman, Jay Carney asserted, AFP reported on Monday.

    The US spokesman also recently defended Washington’s late response to the bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters and revolutionary forces in Libya.

    “There has never been a situation where the international community, with leadership by the United States, has acted as quickly as it has to respond to this kind of situation,” Carney said, dismissing suggestions that Washington had failed to respond with sufficient urgency.

    The kingdom’s fellow members of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar — have dispatched armed forces to the Persian Gulf island to assist Manama in its crackdown of countrywide protests at the Sunni-led monarchy’s suppression of the Shia majority.

    Demanding King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s ouster and constitutional reforms, the demonstrators have been peacefully camping in the capital’s Pearl Square since February 14th.

    The square, which is the epicenter for the rallies, has become known to many as ‘the Martyrs Roundabout’ in memory of those killed during Manama-ordered suppression of the popular uprising.

    On Sunday, demonstrators pushed to expand their rallies from the square to Bahrain Financial Harbor, the country’s main business hub.

    Hundreds of people were reportedly wounded in the security forces’ stepped-up violence on the anti-government movements with live footage showing the forces shooting a protester at close range.

    More than 1,000 people have reportedly been hospitalized mostly from exposure to the tear gas.

    The United States Defense Department claimed it had received prior notification of the recent incursion by foreign troops.

    The US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, however, made an unannounced visit to the Bahraini capital, Manama, on Friday.

    Iran’s Foreign Ministry Director General for the Persian Gulf and Middle East Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said, “It is surprising to see that immediately after the recent trip of the US defense secretary we see the intensified use of violence against the people of Bahrain.”



  • State Dept. advises against travel to Bahrain
    (AP) – 30 minutes ago
    WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department is urging U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to Bahrain due to “the potential for ongoing political and civil unrest.”
    The department is also advising Americans currently in Bahrain to consider leaving.
    Bahrain has been swept up in the wave of protests that have arisen in the Arab world since December. On Monday, a military force from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations moved into Bahrain to shore up its Sunni Muslim rulers in the face of escalating Shiite-led protests.
    Although the protesters have not targeted Westerners, the State Department is advising Americans to “be vigilant regarding their personal security.”
    It also says U.S. citizens should avoid all demonstrations, which “have degenerated into violent clashes between police and protesters on several occasions.”
    Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press.


  • As Bahrain arrests the opposition leaders, no one is left for dialogue


    The footage that reveals the brutal truth about Bahrain’s crackdown
    Seven protest leaders arrested as video clip highlights regime’s ruthless grip on power

    By Patrick Cockburn


    UN condemns crackdown in Bahrain
    Anne Barker reported this story on Friday, March 18, 2011

    Iraqis protest against crackdown on Shiites in Bahrain
    From Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
    March 18, 2011


    Iraqi lawmakers support protests in Bahrain
    English.news.cn 2011-03-18 0


    Bahrain’s king as a royal wedding guest? What an dreadful message
    Being ‘royal’ doesn’t stop you being a violent dictator. Why are such people receiving invitations to Prince William’s wedding?


    Hospitals and medics attacked in Bahrain crackdown
    Hugh Tomlinson From: The Times March 18, 2011


    U.N. rights boss urges Bahrain to rein in forces

    By Stephanie Nebehay
    GENEVA | Thu Mar 17,


  • Pro-democracy protestors is a good laugh. The correct word should be used is the pro-saboteurs protestors. The protestors and their Shia doctors have already killed several Pakistanies because the foreign workers support the government. All expatriate in Bahrain know these peace loving protestors with flowers are liers and big killers.
    You can confirm it with any qualified or simple foreign guest workers. These saboteurs thoughts very soon they all will have each a BMW or new Ferari but now they are very disappointed and think President Obama should help them. I do like a good laugh with the peace loving protestors. I do live in Bahrain and I do know what I am talking about. Today at the Bahrain Shopping City Center all foreign workers feel the same as me and now much relaxed than few days ago. For clarification I am a Bahraini and my daughter is studying in PA. USA.

  • Scholars around the arab world are voicing their concerns that the prising is nothing more than a shia sectarian division of the country which long lived in harmony between sunni, shia, arabs, and expatriate labours.

    The leaders of this movement are opportunist trying to replicate the uprising in both Tunisia and Egypt which were the people against the rulers. In Bahrain, the situation is different, the people are satisfied with their leaders eventhough there are demands for better wages, housing and work. At the start of the riots, the crown prince offered the opposition to meet at negotiation table to discuss all issues without pre-conditions.

    Expatriates from both western countrioes and eastern countries were living in harmony with the Bahraini people and they were helping our country in serving the public. Since the peaceful demonstrations(better call them unpeaceful and illegal demonstrations and sit-ins) have disrupted our lives and turned our days in nightmares just for sake of those who have an evil agenda.

    Please safe this beautiful country this hardship.

  • quoting from the above letter that is written annonymously by the so named ” citizens of Bahrain” I wonder what kind of ” universal values of human rights, freedom and democracy” one can expect from any form of islamic democracy that does not tolerate any other religious freedom . The democracy the writer is talking about shall be strictly copy-paste of the Iranian Islamic Republic as exemplified by the photo of the women covered in black head-to-toe cited in this article. Enough is said.

  • Dear President Obama,

    I would to pass my gratitude to the US administration for supporting Bahrain’s initiative to call the GCC forces to help in maintaining piece in Bahrain following the terrorist acts that some people have been practicing in the streets of Bahrain in the name of – so called – democracy. As you all know, the democracy in Bahrain may not be perfect; however, in the Middle East, it is a model that could be considered as a possible base for on-going improvements until it reaches an acceptable level.

    The demonstrators have been attacking innocent people, destroying public and private property and occupying vital areas like the central area of Manama (the capital) and the main hospital in the country (Salmania Hospital); not to mention the Financial Harbor and the main roads leading to it.

    As one of the Bahraini people, I wanted to pass my voice that the government has been more than patient with such hoodlum acts and showed good intentions for dialogue for more than 1 month without a serious action from opposition parties towards this initiative. However, there has to be a limit to such hoodlum actions; which we all feel that some neighboring country may have been supporting; hence, their ministry of exterior’s recent press conference pushing their nose in Bahrain’s internal affairs.

    The opposition had a hidden agenda and was never serious about dialogue, hence, the government has to be firm, as economy and the life of the majority in general were negatively impacted.

    In conclusion, the people of Bahrain condemn the fraud news coverage by some cable channels supported by known regimes in twisting the facts and showing the protesters as victims where we (the silent majority of the people of Bahrain) are the real victims due to the terrorist actions taken by these extremists and we all wish that this crisis find its way to conclusion in the short term.
    From the silent majority of the people of Bahrain

  • Dear President Obama,

    An evidence of Shia terrorists brutality against innocent Pakistani and Saudi soldiers in Bahrain:



    Bahrain police shoot man at close range
    During renewed unrest in Bahrain that has claimed the lives of anti-government protesters and security forces personnel, a clip has emerged of Bahraini police shooting a man and apparently leaving him for dead.


    Protester shot point blank in the head as five are killed in violent clashes in Bahrain

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1366749/Bahrain-protester-shot-point-blank-head-5-killed-violent-clashes.html

  • @Hashim

    You wrote: “As you all know, the democracy in Bahrain may not be perfect; however, in the Middle East, it is a model that could be considered as a possible base for on-going improvements until it reaches an acceptable level.”

    What the F**K!

  • The hub of Bahrain’s rebellion was destroyed as the country’s embattled leaders intensified moves to crush an implacable reformist movement rippling through the Gulf states.

    The giant white monument in the middle of Pearl Roundabout was brought down during Friday afternoon and the mound of grass that had been home for most of the last six weeks to thousands of demonstrators is now a pile of brown dirt.

    The destruction appeared to be part of a plan to revert central Manama to life before the two-month uprising, which has paralysed the kingdom and sharply destabilised its neighbours, two of which, Saudi Arabia and UAE, have deployed troops in an attempt to quell the revolt.

    The three-hour demolition was carried out as two demonstrators shot earlier in the week during clashes with police were buried in villages on the outskirts of the capital. By the time word had spread of the roundabout’s destruction, a curfew made it difficult for protesters to move on the site.

    The move was described by demonstrators as an attempt to symbolically cleanse the city of the main focal point of Bahrain’s most sustained reformist movement in 20 years.

    “It won’t work though,” said one man walking briskly through a central city street as sunset approached. “Symbolism means nothing. We have the momentum.”

    However, as the body of Ahmed Farhan, who was shot in the head on Tuesday, was being prepared for burial in the restive enclave of Sitra, some mourners envied the momentum with rebels in Libya.

    “There is a double standard with the Americans,” said Ali al-Akri, of the UN resolution to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. “It suits their interests to go after Gaddafi now because the crimes he committed cannot be defended by anyone.

    “Here, because of the strong support they have always had for the kingdom, they don’t want any radical change. They know that any change here will reflect on Saudi Arabia, which is deeply worried.”

    As hundreds of men chanted anti-regime slogans, Fadhil Radhi, 45, stepped forward. “I have a message for Obama,” he said. “He asked for change and change took him to the top. But since then he has given these people (Bahrain’s ruling al-Khalifa family) the green light.

    “The people know the truth now, it is not like before. They cannot hide things, the media is strong and it reveals their lies. Obama knows it too and he has to show us what change means.”

    Masked Saudi troops, discernible by their accents, stood alongside the Bahraini army manning approaches to one of the city’s main hospitals, the Salmaniya medical clinic, which remained under blockade, with doctors now living in wards and all but patients and their families prevented from entering.

    In Riyadh King Abdullah, who pushed intensively for the hardline stance shown this week by Bahrain’s leaders, pledged reforms in his kingdom as well as billions of dollars in grants to citizens.

    He is also expected to announce a cabinet reshuffle in a further attempt to ward of dissent.

    In a sign of unease elsewhere in the region, Kuwait dispatched several navy ships to patrol the waters off Bahrain and Qatar said it would not rule out also sending troops to the streets of Manama.

    “This is all because we are asking for our rights,” said Issa Mansour, whose son, Dr Ali al Akri, was arrested on Thursday, along with six other opposition figures as well as several prominent journalists and bloggers.

    “They’re killing us and arresting us because of that. There are 25 islands in Bahrain and all of them belong to the ruling family. We cannot buy land, we cannot get building approvals. The mercenaries they bring in and give nationality to can do all of this easily. But we, the original Bahrainis, can’t.”


  • Iraqi Shiites Protest Bahrain Crackdown
    Published: March 18, 2011

    ¶ BAGHDAD – In the southern port city of Basra, the slums of Sadr City, the divided city of Kirkuk in the north and other areas across Iraq, followers of Moktada al-Sadr, the populist Shiite cleric, flooded the streets after Friday prayers to denounce the violence unleashed on Shiite demonstrators in Bahrain and the presence of Saudi troops there.

    ¶ In Kirkuk demonstrators chanted slogans against Saudi Arabia, asking why, if it can send troops to Bahrain, it hasn’t sent an army to “free Palestine,” while a preacher in a mosque in Sadr City, the vast Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad, said volunteers were ready to go to Bahrain to help their fellow Shiites.

    ¶ Saudi troops rolled into Bahrain Tuesday to help quash the demonstrations there. They moved in as part of a force of 2,000 under the aegis of the Gulf Cooperation Council, an alliance of Sunni rulers.

    ¶ “No, No to America! No, no to Israel! No, no to the occupier!” the preacher, Sayid Muhanad al-Moussawi, exhorted his followers. Sheik Maytham al-Jumairi, a member of the Bahraini opposition, took part in the Sadr City demonstrations, saying, “there are real massacres in Bahrain, it is a bath of blood.”


  • President Obama ,
    I am a Bahraini i love my country . the media has played a vital role in this situation i find it sad
    that al alam tv which is run by iran showing the
    bahraini policeman who was UNARMED and was run over by the
    oppostion twice and then show him as one of their marter
    what else can i say is this what Islam teaches us i am so sad that we have reached to this stage .we want peace
    we DON’T want iran we are arabs not iraians
    and don’t want to have nothing to do with iran.

  • 2011-03-21 Open Letter to the US government from the people of #Bahrain
    Submitted by carwin biloquist on Tue, 03/22/2011 – 01:48

    Dear Mr. President and Honorable Representatives of the United States Congress,

    We, the people of Bahrain, are in deep pain and have great concern for our situation.

    We are attempting to deliver our voices.

    We have long supported you, and have appreciated the help that you have given our nation in the past.

    However, now, in this time of great crisis, it grieves us to realize that you have abandoned the Bahraini people.

    King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and the royal family are acting violently against unarmed and peaceful demonstrators in an unprecedented way.

    Bahrain’s government has mercenaries and thugs attacking and killing civilians in the streets and destroying people’s property.

    At first, they exploited the Sunni and Shia issue. Now they are using violent thugs. They are everywhere. The situation is especially dangerous when they discover that a person is Shia.

    The Bahraini security forces and Saudi army are attacking unarmed people with armed helicopters and tanks.

    They are killing and injuring people. They have used nerve gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators.

    Bahraini forces and the Saudi army have seized villages and are attacking people in the streets. There are arbitrary arrests, killings, kidnappings, and beatings of protesters. More than 20 people are dead, 63 are missing, and unknown numbers have been arrested.

    This campaign of violence has injured thousands, many of whom are critical and will die for lack of medical care.

    Security forces have even attacked and taken over hospitals and medical centers in order to prevent wounded demonstrators from receiving needed medical attention. They have also beaten medical personnel.

    The army is moving patients to unknown destinations, and seizing and deleting patient medical records. They have warned doctors and nurses to refuse admission to the wounded and to conceal what they have witnessed.

    We are calling on the world and human rights organizations to PLEASE SAVE US FROM ANNIHILATION.

    We put out a distress call to all the countries of the world: Our weapons are only roses and the Bahraini flag. We are up against foreign troops and GCC armies with real weapons.

    Where is everyone? Won’t you help us? Will you just watch us die? Where are the democracies of the world?

    These are crimes against humanity. We beseech you to protect the peaceful citizens of Bahrain.

    We also request a commission to discover the facts of this campaign of violence and killing committed by Bahraini authorities against unarmed citizens.

    We beg you. Help us.


    The People of Bahrain