By Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, March 20, 2011
In Yemen police and snipers on rooftops opened fire on Friday on a mass demonstration outside the main university, killing at least 42 people. The government has since declared martial law and set up checkpoints throughout the capital, Sanaa.
In Bahrain repression began a few days earlier, when King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa called for military support from other Gulf monarchs and 1,000 troops from Saudi Arabia crossed into the island kingdom. “This was the green light for our army to kill people,” says Ali Salman, the leader of al-Wefaq, the main opposition party.
As decisively as in Yemen the Bahraini al-Khalifa royal family has rejected reform and showed that it intends to hold power by armed force. Serried ranks of riot police advancing behind a cloud of tear gas and backed by armoured vehicles and helicopters cleared protesters from Pearl Square, which has been the gathering point for protesters. The 300ft-high monument commemorating the pearl fishers of the Gulf, a rallying point for protesters, has been torn down by the army. “It was a bad memory,” said the Bahraini Foreign Minister, Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa.