More Mideast Turmoil: Update on Bahrain
There's just too much happening. Obviously, the possibility of a bad nuclear accident in Japan is the most nerve wracking, but it's hardly all there is. Have you heard about this one?
Saudi forces are preparing to intervene in neighbouring Bahrain, after a day of clashes between police and protesters who mounted the most serious challenge to the island's royal family since demonstrations began a month ago.
The Crown Prince of Bahrain is expected to formally invite security forces from Saudi Arabia into his country today, as part of a request for support from other members of the six-member Gulf Co-operation Council.
Thousands of demonstrators on Sunday cut off Bahrain's financial centre and drove back police trying to eject them from the capital's central square, while protesters also clashed with government supporters on the campus of the main university.
Amid the revolt Bahrain also faces a potential sectarian conflict between the ruling minority of Sunnis Muslims and a majority of Shia Muslims, around 70% of the kingdom's 525,000 residents.
The crown prince, Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, said in a televised statement that Bahrain had "witnessed tragic events" during a month of unprecedented political unrest.
Warning that "the right to security and safety is above all else", he added: "Any legitimate claims must not be made at the expanse of security and stability."[...]
The unrest is being closely watched in Saudi Arabia, where Shia are some 15% of the population.In an apparent reference to Iran, which Gulf Arab ruling elites fear may capitalise on an uprising by Shiites in Bahrain, he also expresssed "strong rejection of any foreign interference in the kingdom's internal affairs, asserting that any acts aiming to destabilise the kingdom and sow dissension between its citizens represent a dangerous encroachment on the whole GCC security and stability." Reports that the Saudi National Guard was poised to enter Bahrain were cited by the Foreign Office, alongside a recent increase in protests, as it changed its advice to advise British citizens against all travel to Bahrain.
The latest demonstrations took place a day after the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, visited Bahrain and said that the Khalifa family must go beyond "baby steps" reform and enact substantial economic and political change.
That can't be good.
From the middle east turmoil to the Japanese reactor accidents, our endless thirst for energy is at the center of many of our current crises.
Saudi forces have reportedly arrived in Bahrain to reinforce its police, who clashed with protesters yesterday in an escalation of the month-long Shiite-led protests calling for democratic reform...
The protest is led by Shiites, who make up about 70 percent of Bahrain’s population, which has been ruled by the Sunni Al Khalifa family since the late 1700s. The country's Shiites complain of discrimination and have called for government reforms.Opposition groups said Monday that the Saudi intervention was a declaration of war. Protests that began with calls for democratic reform and an end to Shiite discrimination are now calling for regime change.
“The entry of the Saudis does not mean these people are going to go back to their villages quietly,” says Toby Jones, a Gulf expert at Rutgers University. “It raises the stakes.”