Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bahrain Attacks Peaceful Protestors

Bahrain Forces in Drive Against Protesters

Tear gas fired as security forces attempt to disperse protesters from capital's Pearl Roundabout.

Al Jazeera
16 March 2011

Security forces in Bahrain have launched an assault on pro-democracy demonstrators camped out at the Pearl Roundabout in Manama, the capital.

Troops backed by tanks gathered in the area early on Wednesday in order to push out the protesters demanding political reforms, an Al Jazeera correspondent said.

There are reports of explosions in the Bahraini capital and smoke was seen billowing over the main square.

At least 500 protesters have been camping there as part of their demonstration.

The move by the security forces came a day after a state of emergency was declared on the island and at least two people were killed in clashes in the Shia suburb of Sitra outside Manama.

An order by the king "authorised the commander of Bahrain's defence forces to take all necessary measures to protect the safety of the country and its citizens," a statement read out on television on Tuesday said.

Hundreds of Saudi-led troops entered Bahrain on Monday to help protect government facilities there amid an escalation in the protests against the government.

The small kingdom with a dominant Shia majority has been swept by protests over the last several weeks. The protesters, alleging discrimination and lack of rights, are seeking political reforms.

The arrival of foreign troops followed a request to members of the Gulf Co-Operation Council (GCC) from Bahrain.

The United Arab Emirates also sent about 500 police to Bahrain, according to Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Emirati foreign minister. Qatar, meanwhile, did not rule out the possibility of its troops joining the force.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, the Qatari prime minister and foreign minister, told Al Jazeera: "There are common responsibilities and obligations within the GCC countries.

International concern

The US, which counts both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia among its allies, has called for restraint, but has refrained from saying whether it supports the move to deploy troops.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, who was speaking in Egypt, said Bahrainis must "take steps now" towards a political resolution of the crisis.

Iran, meanwhile, has warned against "foreign interferences".

"The peaceful demonstrations in Bahrain are among the domestic issues of this country, and creating an atmosphere of fear and using other countries' military forces to oppress these demands is not the solution," Hossein Amir Abdollahian, an official from the Iranian foreign ministry, was reported by Iran's semi-official Fars news agency as saying.


  1. Sarah, sorry please dont keep repeating peaceful protestors. The army is on the streets only as the protestors have taken law into their own hands. Bahrain is not Libya or Egypt, people have to understand that this country has more expats than the shia protestors, who are slowly taking the whole country hostage. This cannot continue and cannot be allowed to continue. If they need reforms they have to sit & talk not keep sleeping on the streets & block the complete economy.

  2. Hi Khalid... thank you for your comment :) However I have not read any media accounts suggesting that the vast majority of protestors are not peaceful and nothing you say in your comment suggests that either.

    I was not clear about your point about the country being taken hostage. By whom? Shi'is who were born in Bahrain or foreigners who have been recruited by business and the government to either work cheaply or change the sectarian balance of the country?

    Dialogue is obviously the most desirable method for achieving democracy but requires an even playing field, one which the King is refusing to provide. Thus people are taking to the streets in the same way people protested to secure civil rights for all Americans in the 1960s. Real change requires compromise by all parties.