Crackdown: Police move to clear protesters from capital square in Bahrain

posted at 9:33 pm on February 16, 2011 by Allahpundit

Apologies for a blogging lapse on my part. I should have written about this sooner. People are paying attention to the demonstrations in Iran, Yemen, and even Libya(!), but I’d bet that the big flashpoint in the region will come in Bahrain. It’s hugely significant for two reasons: It’s the home of the Fifth Fleet, which is understandably nervous about what instability could mean for America’s strategic options, and it sits squarely on the political fault line between Saudi Arabia and and Iran. The king is a Sunni and a Saudi client but the population is 70 percent Shiite, making Bahrain the only country in the Middle East besides Iran and Iraq with a Shiite majority. The fear, of course, is that if the king is toppled, not only will Bahrain become an Iranian client state but reform fever might finally catch on next door in the kingdom and threaten the Saudis themselves.

Hence the odds of a flashpoint: Even if Bahrain’s king is willing to agree to constitutional changes, the Saudis might intervene on his behalf and try to crush the demonstrations to create an “autocracy firewall” and send a message to dissidents back home. There have already been three full days of protests, replete with Bahraini police temporarily withdrawing from the streets to give way to demonstrators, so if a crackdown’s coming, it’s probably coming soon. And in fact, according to this story at the Times, it might have already begun. Given the obvious U.S. interest in retaining Bahrain as a base, protecting Saudi Arabia from radical populism, and limiting Iran’s influence in the region (not to mention the $10 billion in mutual funds parked there), how forlorn do you think Obama and Hillary will be if Saudi tanks roll?

Hundreds of riot police surrounded the nation’s symbolic center, Pearl Square, in the early morning Thursday, raining tear gas and percussion grenades on thousands of demonstrators who had poured into the square all day Wednesday to challenge the country’s absolute monarchy…

Witnesses, some of them vomiting from the gas, said they had no warning the police were going to crack down on their peaceful protest before rows of police vehicles with blue flashing lights began to circle the area…

The protest was started early in the week by young people, but by midday on Wednesday political leaders had decided the nation had reached a tipping point and that they would try to leverage what appeared to have become an unstoppable political force.

The leaders of the largest Shiite political party, Al Wefaq, announced that they would not return to Parliament until King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, a Sunni, agreed to transform the nation into a constitutional democracy with an elected government. Though they had no formal authority over the protesters, the political leaders said they were confident that the community would heed their calls to end the protests if their fundamental demands were met.

This is, as Biden would say, a big effing deal. ABC is reporting that one of its reporters in the square was beaten by security forces during the crackdown and an opposition leader tells CNN that at least one protester is dead. That’s also a big effing deal, as it was the killing of two demonstrators a few days ago by Bahraini security that catalyzed the protests in the first place. (Just yesterday, the king took the unusual step of apologizing on television.) This morning, protesters were vowing to put at least 50,000 people in the square on Saturday, a hefty number in a country of just 1.2 million people. What happens now? Do the demonstrations end out of fear of an even more violent crackdown to come or do people turn out en masse tomorrow in a “day of rage,” which would force the Saudis to decide how far they’re willing to go? And if they decide to go all the way, what happens to their relationship with the White House?

Whatever happens, tomorrow’s a big day. As Michael Totten said of the mullahs, so too with the Saudis: Realistically, there’s nowhere to run.


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http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 9:39 PM

It’s hugely significant for two reasons: It’s the home of the Fifth Fleet,

Yes. We have a US military presence there, albeit small.

This push for “democracy” is like dominoes falling. The imminent question is, will it end well?

conservative pilgrim on February 16, 2011 at 9:40 PM

Do the demonstrations end out of fear of an even more violent crackdown to come or do people turn out en masse tomorrow in a “day of rage,” which would force the Saudis to decide how far they’re willing to go? And if they decide to go all the way, what happens to their relationship with the White House?

Is it now acceptable to bring up the “Archduke Ferdinand” incident in the context of it being a catalyst to WWI? Multiple Arab countries revo1ting including the one that houses the epicenter of the US power projection capability in the Gulf region?

ok, instead, I’ll resort to dominoes falling…

ted c on February 16, 2011 at 9:40 PM

At least we are oil independent…

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on February 16, 2011 at 9:41 PM

Fitna.

blatantblue on February 16, 2011 at 9:42 PM

Apologies for a blogging lapse on my part. I should have written about this sooner.
==========================
AllahPundit:

Your doing a fine job,H*ll is about to break loose across the entire M.E.soooo little time…tooooooo much happening
all over da place,over there!

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 9:42 PM

The Shi’ites are a tad crazier than the Sunnis, so look for another Islamo-disaster in the offing.

profitsbeard on February 16, 2011 at 9:42 PM

Realistically, there’s nowhere to run.

….

Berkeley.

artist on February 16, 2011 at 9:42 PM

This push for “democracy” is like dominoes falling. The imminent question is, will it end well?

conservative pilgrim on February 16, 2011 at 9:40 PM

I think the governments of Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the other oil states in the Gulf will pull through. They’re making so much money off that oil that they’re going to go to the mattresses to stay in power.

What they have to do *in order* to pull through, though, probably won’t be pretty at this rate.

teke184 on February 16, 2011 at 9:44 PM

I wonder how long it will take for the “Democracy” movement to reach the U.S.A.? Would the President resign and flee the capital if enough Americans showed up in Washington, D.C.?
Probably not!

Lew on February 16, 2011 at 9:45 PM

Thank heavens we have Barack & Co. to make sense of these events for us./

pugwriter on February 16, 2011 at 9:45 PM

Riots in Mexico, Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, etc.

Bombs in Russian airports, drug cartels in South America.

Tyranny in Asia.

What’s wrong with this world?

blatantblue on February 16, 2011 at 9:47 PM

Note to reporters on the ground; wear chastity belts. Don’t assume you are among friends.

Electrongod on February 16, 2011 at 9:47 PM

Riot police attack Bahrain protest camp; 2 dead
Feb 16 2011

http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2011/feb/16/riot-police-attack-bahrain-protest-camp-2-dead-ar-848971/

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 9:48 PM

What’s wrong with this world?

blatantblue on February 16, 2011 at 9:47 PM

we are destroying ourselves and this world.

ted c on February 16, 2011 at 9:49 PM

“Hey, I’m willing to watch all of you shove Israel into the sea. Stop making trouble for me!”

-PBHO

Bishop on February 16, 2011 at 9:50 PM

OH Shiite!

AZCON on February 16, 2011 at 9:51 PM

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-the-corrupt-feudal-world-of-the-house-of-saud-538468.html

If I were a Saudi royal, I’d be discreetly gone already.

cynccook on February 16, 2011 at 9:52 PM

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 9:48 PM

ugh! thx.

ted c on February 16, 2011 at 9:52 PM

blatantblue on February 16, 2011 at 9:47 PM

People are bad. Very, very bad. (But not me!)

cynccook on February 16, 2011 at 9:54 PM

Whatever happens, tomorrow’s a big day.

Is Jay Carney going to practice his punting again tomorrow?

ted c on February 16, 2011 at 9:54 PM

So who’s up for a little alternative energy whether you like it or not? Yay for wind-powered Super Hornets.

Bishop on February 16, 2011 at 9:55 PM

What’s wrong with this world?

blatantblue on February 16, 2011 at 9:47 PM

blatantblue:I count my lucky stars,crap,I mean,my lucky
leaf,that I live in North America!!:)

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 9:56 PM

Apologies for a blogging lapse on my part. I should have written about this sooner.

==========================
AllahPundit:

Your doing a fine job,H*ll is about to break loose across the entire M.E.soooo little time…tooooooo much happening
all over da place,over there!

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 9:42 PM

I’ll second that one!

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 9:56 PM

So who’s up for a little alternative energy whether you like it or not? Yay for wind-powered Super Hornets.

Bishop on February 16, 2011 at 9:55 PM

and get some sails back on those aircraft carriers while you’re at it!

change.

ted c on February 16, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Are they killing each other?

Then more please.

BowHuntingTexas on February 16, 2011 at 9:58 PM

At least we are oil independent…

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on February 16, 2011 at 9:41 PM

Why we need President Palin in 2013. She’s the only one who won’t settle for anything less than a full on effort to be as energy independent as possible.

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 9:59 PM

THIS:

I wonder how long it will take for the “Democracy” movement to reach the U.S.A.? Would the President resign and flee the capital if enough Americans showed up in Washington, D.C.?
Probably not!

Lew on February 16, 2011 at 9:45 PM

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 10:02 PM

we are destroying ourselves and this world.

ted c on February 16, 2011 at 9:49 PM

I firmly believe my children will be born into a world torn apart. I hope to be able to raise them to be prepared to live and fight for their rights (lives if necessary).

blatantblue on February 16, 2011 at 10:04 PM

Why we need President Palin in 2013. She’s the only one who won’t settle for anything less than a full on effort to be as energy independent as possible.

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 9:59 PM

I can picture it now. Unemployment drops at an unexpected rate. Tens of thousands jobs created out, what appears to be, thin air. Thousands of pipelines laid in her first term. In her second term, the finger is raised to the ME and our debt is paid in full to China.

I can dream.

Electrongod on February 16, 2011 at 10:04 PM

Feb 16, 10:43 AM EST

US military HQ in Mideast watching Gulf unrest

http://ap.stripes.com/dynamic/stories/U/US_US_MILITARY_GULF?SITE=DCSAS&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Well, that yellow snowball is rolling downhill now and about to hit the brown dirt!

bluemarlin on February 16, 2011 at 10:06 PM

Riots in Mexico, Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, etc.

Bombs in Russian airports, drug cartels in South America.

Tyranny in Asia.

What’s wrong with this world?

blatantblue on February 16, 2011 at 9:47 PM

No leadership from America. No leadership in the White House.

The United States matter. Anytime the US is weak, has weak leadership, this is what happens.

This is why someone like Ron Paul and his thinking is so dangerous. Like it or not, the US is the glue that holds the entire world together.

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 10:07 PM

I firmly believe my children will be born into a world torn apart. I hope to be able to raise them to be prepared to live and fight for their rights (lives if necessary).

blatantblue on February 16, 2011 at 10:04 PM

likewise.

ted c on February 16, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Like it or not, the US is the glue that holds the entire world together.

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 10:07 PM

Pax America has as much chance of lasting as Pax Romana. This kind of thing happens every time an empire falls.

Dark-Star on February 16, 2011 at 10:09 PM

This is why someone like Ron Paul and his thinking is so dangerous. Like it or not, the US is the glue that holds the entire world together.

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 10:07 PM

not necessarily. Despite the US, the world is a helluva bad place most days. It’s only worse, and I mean worse worse since the current WH occupant is fine with allowing the Muslims to have a run of the field for a few years.

ted c on February 16, 2011 at 10:09 PM

I can picture it now. Unemployment drops at an unexpected rate. Tens of thousands jobs created out, what appears to be, thin air. Thousands of pipelines laid in her first term. In her second term, the finger is raised to the ME and our debt is paid in full to China.

I can dream.

Electrongod on February 16, 2011 at 10:04 PM

It won’t be that easy! It will be quite hard, but at least we’ll have a leader who understands that, and does it anyway.

It took two terms of Reagan to really get things right after just one term of Carter.

We just have to make sure we keep electing REAL conservatives.

We must elect people who get it.

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 10:11 PM

It won’t be that easy!

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 10:11 PM

Yep.

Electrongod on February 16, 2011 at 10:14 PM

I need somebody in this administration to tell me if I should cheer this on or be the ‘anti-Bush’ and stay out of the internal affairs of other nations.

I checked with the Libertarian Party too. They said I could choose to blame either the Israeli settlements in the West Bank or President Taft for sending troops to Nicaragua in 1912.

All I know is that Islam has nothing to do with any of the riots.

/

mankai on February 16, 2011 at 10:15 PM

Official U.S. Fifth Fleet Web site

http://www.cusnc.navy.mil/
—————————-

Global Security
Fifth Fleet

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/navy/c5f.htm

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 10:17 PM

not necessarily. Despite the US, the world is a helluva bad place most days. It’s only worse, and I mean worse worse since the current WH occupant is fine with allowing the Muslims to have a run of the field for a few years.

ted c on February 16, 2011 at 10:09 PM

It was like this when Carter was in office too. Maybe not quite as bad, but very close.

It was also out of control under Clinton too.

The only democrat president since 1900 that actually made a positive difference was FDR. He was a socialist domestically, but he helped save the world.

The rest, not so much.

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 10:17 PM

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 9:48 PM

ugh! thx.

ted c on February 16, 2011 at 9:52 PM

ted c:)

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 10:18 PM

This is why someone like Ron Paul and his thinking is so dangerous. Like it or not, the US is the glue that holds the entire world together.

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 10:07 PM

The problem with RP and his ilk is that they’ve already decided what the problem is… US foriegn policy. Period. Every terrorist, every rogue nation… all created by US foreign policy. Every other thing on the planet is benign until ignited by US policy (or by Israel’s existence).

Islam was just a kind and peaceful relgion for 1300 years until the west came along.

And they stick vociferously to that conclusion no matter what.

mankai on February 16, 2011 at 10:24 PM

And they were singin’…

….Caliphate……..oh, oh……Caliphate.

Chop off their hands
Chop off their heads
Honor kill your family
Burn down the Zionist house
Gonna have a Caliphate

Stone the slutty western girl
Look she’s showin her curls
We gotta kill her now
Look it’s a golden cow
Gonna have a Caliphate

Oh Oh, we’re gonna have a Callllliiiiiphayyyyyyyte!

PappyD61 on February 16, 2011 at 10:24 PM

ok, i went to movements.org to see what they had.

In case you didn’t know, this is called Arab Spring.

here’s a poster re: Bahrain.

http://www.movements.org/blog/entry/unrest-in-the-middle-east-updates-from-iran-bahrain-algeria/

I have no idea if this is representative…but upraised fists always make me a little suspicious.

r keller on February 16, 2011 at 10:24 PM

I need somebody in this administration to tell me if I should cheer this on or be the ‘anti-Bush’ and stay out of the internal affairs of other nations.

I checked with the Libertarian Party too. They said I could choose to blame either the Israeli settlements in the West Bank or President Taft for sending troops to Nicaragua in 1912.

All I know is that Islam has nothing to do with any of the riots.

/

mankai on February 16, 2011 at 10:15 PM

The Religion of Piece.

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Well, that yellow snowball is rolling downhill now and about to hit the brown dirt!

bluemarlin on February 16, 2011 at 10:06 PM

bluemarlin:What idiot has a Husky(dog)over there!!:)
=======================================================

Frank Zappa Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow – Father O’Blivion

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws5Xeu3BEQk

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 10:27 PM

The problem with RP and his ilk is that they’ve already decided what the problem is… US foriegn policy. Period. Every terrorist, every rogue nation… all created by US foreign policy. Every other thing on the planet is benign until ignited by US policy (or by Israel’s existence).

Islam was just a kind and peaceful relgion for 1300 years until the west came along.

And they stick vociferously to that conclusion no matter what.

mankai on February 16, 2011 at 10:24 PM

It’s always the Jooooooooooooos fault!

The Jooooooooooooos run everything, you know.

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 10:29 PM

Oh Oh, we’re gonna have a Callllliiiiiphayyyyyyyte!

PappyD61 on February 16, 2011 at 10:24 PM

It’ll be harder than you think!

Sunni and Shi’a have a lot of disagreements over the line of Khalifs for the Khalifa.

blatantblue on February 16, 2011 at 10:30 PM

So if the U.S. helps the Saudis would Obama get accused of shedding blood for oil?

Cindy Munford on February 16, 2011 at 10:31 PM

Oh Oh, we’re gonna have a Callllliiiiiphayyyyyyyte!

PappyD61 on February 16, 2011 at 10:24 PM

PappyD61:Yup,the Muslims version,of Western Freedom,

their Freedom to enforce Sharia and Islamic
Tenent thingys,and the 79′ Iranian Revolution
continues,uninterrupted!!:)

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 10:32 PM

gnite fellas.

ted c on February 16, 2011 at 10:32 PM

That would be the best thing that could happen to us as a country to have all of these countries fall and kick our troops out of there. We need less of a presence in that region and there are far more important things we should be using our tax dollars on.

thphilli on February 16, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Well,ahem,when this M.E Mess,gets done,

its gonna take a good ole’fashioned
*CRUSADE!!

*(This statement should send trolls into fits)

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 10:34 PM

gnite fellas.

ted c on February 16, 2011 at 10:32 PM

ted c:Nite ted,I’m out too:)

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 10:35 PM

thphilli on February 16, 2011 at 10:34 PM

And leave Israel on her own?

Cindy Munford on February 16, 2011 at 10:35 PM

Nite as well everyone,sweet non-protesting dreams:)

canopfor on February 16, 2011 at 10:36 PM

The truly sad thing is that the Beiber thread generated more hits than this story.

darwin-t on February 16, 2011 at 10:42 PM

Oh Oh, we’re gonna have a Callllliiiiiphayyyyyyyte!

PappyD61 on February 16, 2011 at 10:24 PM

Cat Stevens, is that you?

bluemarlin on February 16, 2011 at 10:43 PM

Oh Oh, we’re gonna have a Callllliiiiiphayyyyyyyte!

PappyD61 on February 16, 2011 at 10:24 PM
Cat Stevens, is that you?

bluemarlin on February 16, 2011 at 10:43 PM

Sorry, left the sarc off of that, apologize :)

bluemarlin on February 16, 2011 at 10:44 PM

ALOL. Good one on Cat Stevens (or whatever his name is now).

PappyD61 on February 16, 2011 at 11:28 PM

I firmly believe my children will be born into a world torn apart. I hope to be able to raise them to be prepared to live and fight for their rights (lives if necessary).

blatantblue on February 16, 2011 at 10:04 PM

You’re gonna have to stop chasing post-menopausal cougars if you want some chillern.

I keed, I keed.

As Michael Totten said of the mullahs, so too with the Saudis: Realistically, there’s nowhere to run.
———-AllahP

I don’t know about the Saudis, but with the anti-American vitriol on record from the mullahs and Dinnerjacket, I’m sure that San Francisco would give them sanctuary in a minute.

hillbillyjim on February 17, 2011 at 12:26 AM

Come to think of it, given their vast wealth and their connections, the upper echelon of the Saudi regime has probably long had a contingency plan for just such an event — perhaps an uncharted island or three?

hillbillyjim on February 17, 2011 at 12:32 AM

protecting Saudi Arabia from radical populism,

Heh! Where does America stand on that? How fast can you head south from Iraq to save your noble Saudi King from “radical populism”? Heh!

It is good to get the showdown on a faster track.

BL@KBIRD on February 17, 2011 at 1:44 AM

darwin-t on February 16, 2011 at 10:42 PM

that’s pathetic…

*sigh*

Whatever happens, tomorrow’s a big day.

indeed

cmsinaz on February 17, 2011 at 6:28 AM

Realistically, there’s nowhere to run.

Especially since Bahrain is an island, connected to Saudi Arabia only by long viaducts. There may be somewhere to swim.

Protestors in Bahrain may not be of the same mentality of those in Egypt or Saudi Arabia. I have traveled to Bahrain, and the people there seem to be much more pro-West and cosmopolitan than in Saudi Arabia, and much less likely to impose or even tolerate Sharia law.

The city of Bahrain, on the north end of the island, has a lively “night life”, with many women walking around not accompanied by men and/or dressed Western style without head-scarves, and there are also bars which serve alcoholic beverages, and locals have told me there are even strip clubs there.

It would be unlikely that a small island kingdom, whose population is concentrated in a large city where most people enjoy freedom from the oppressive Sharia law, would ever impose Sharia law on itself, unless it were infiltrated by foreigners (Iranians?).

Steve Z on February 17, 2011 at 10:31 AM

gary4205 on February 16, 2011 at 10:07 PM

This is all in the WH plan. We are going to have those green jobs, a better life in Mexico, a real relationship in the Koreas and a continued march forward by Chavez.

Our Leader is reading the Koran to understand Koren stuff and had Big Ben in just the other day to teach him how to pass and score to help out our great national defense.

IlikedAUH2O on February 17, 2011 at 10:49 AM