Monday, February 21, 2011

Next stop: The House of Saud

Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, Feb 19, 2011

Here’s a crash course on how one of “our” – monarchic – dictators treats his own people during the great 2011 Arab revolt.

The king of Bahrain, Hamad al-Khalifa, has blood on his hands after his mercenary security forces – Pakistani, Indian, Syrian and Jordanian – with no previous warning, attacked sleeping, peaceful protesters at 3 am on Thursday at the Pearl roundabout, the tiny Gulf country’s version of Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

In the brutal crackdown, at least five people have been killed – including a young child – and 2,000 injured, some by gunshots, two of these in critical condition. Riot police targeted doctors and medics and prevented ambulances and blood donors from reaching the Pearl roundabout. A doctor at Salmaniya hospital told al-Jazeera there was a refrigerated truck outside the hospital, which he fears the army has used to remove more dead bodies.
The resourceful Maryama Alkawaka of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights was there; “It was very violent, [the police] were not showing any mercy.” An avalanche of tweets from Bahrainis denounced an “Israeli-style” sneak attack and shoot-to-kill approach. And many have denounced al-Jazeera for not having kept a live satellite link as it had in Cairo, and for implying that this was only a Shi’ite protest. The Pearl roundabout is now surrounded by nearly 100 tanks at every entrance and exit. Downtown Manama has been turned into a ghost city.

The Shi’ite opposition described it as “real terrorism”. Reem Khalifa, senor editor at the opposition newspaper al-Wasat, said, “The regime forces just came and massacred a crowd of people as they slept.” They had been “chanting together, shouting ‘neither Sunni nor Shi’ite but Bahraini’. We have not seen this before. And this is what annoyed the government agents the most – they are always trying to divide the people … And now the regime is spreading lies about me and other journalists who are trying to say what is happening.”

Khalifa had the courage to stand up and harshly confront Bahrain’s foreign minister at a press conference, totally debunking his version of events (he called the deaths “regrettable” but insisted protesters were sectarian, and armed).

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