La repressione in Bahrain ha l’appoggio dei paesi vicini

Bahrain, Golfo, rivolte popolari, sciiti
Wsws 110218
La repressione in Bahrain ha l’appoggio dei paesi vicini


– In Bahrain, le iniziali rivendicazioni di riforme, di monarchia costituzionale, avrebbero lasciato il posto alla volontà di rovesciamento del regime sunnita da parte della popolazione a maggioranza sciita.

o   Le proteste in corso sono capeggiate dall’opposizione sciita, che chiede per sé maggiore peso politico.

o   A metà anni Novanta gruppi sciiti di opposizione, dopo scontri sanguinosi con le forze di sicurezza, ottennero dal regime una maggiore rappresentanza politica.

– Le monarchie sunnite del Golfo temono analoghe rivolte della propria popolazione sciita, ed hanno espresso il proprio sostegno alla repressione violenta in Bahrain tramite il Consiglio di Cooperazione del Golfo (CCG):

o   «Il CCG è unito di fronte a qualsiasi minaccia ad un suo membro. Qualsiasi minaccia è una responsabilità collettiva».

o   Corazzati e camionette dell’esercito inviate in Pearl Square a Manama, capitale del Bahrain, per mantenere il controllo dopo la repressione delle proteste prima dell’alba di giovedì per opera della polizia; rimosse tende e ristori costruiti dai manifestanti, la piazza è stata chiusa da filo spinato. Emanato tramite televisione il divieto di assembramento in luoghi pubblici.

– A sera calata centinaia di persone si sono trovate fuori dal pronto soccorso dell’ospedale, formato un corteo con slogan contro la famiglia reale.

o   cinque le vittime dei cinque giorni di scontri tra manifestanti e forze di sicurezza.

– Gli Usa hanno chiesto al Bahrain di agire in modo pacifico verso i manifestanti.

– Allarmata anche la Finanza internazionale per le proteste in Bahrain, centro finanziario del Golfo usato come centro bancario offshore anche dall’Arabia Saudita e sede di una importante base militare navale Usa. Il Fitch Rating per Bahrain potrebbe essere rivisto al ribasso

– A rischio il premio di Formula 1 di marzo, tra i maggiori stimoli di mercato internazionali per Bahrain.

Continuano le proteste in Libia, Yemen e Irak; l’Iran avrebbe chiesto all’Egitto di far passare per il canale di Suez le sue navi da guerra.

Wsws 110218
Bahrain’s Crackdown Wins Neighbors’ Support


WSJ’s Joe Parkinson reports from the midst of ongoing protests in Bahrain in which at least three people have died. Also, protests continue in Libya where demonstrators plan more rallies after government officials clamp down on previous unrest.


–   MANAMA—Bahrain’s military sent tanks and armored personnel carriers into the streets Thursday to extend its control after a government crackdown on protests, while neighboring monarchies of the Persian Gulf endorsed the country’s violent response.

–   Before dawn Thursday, riot police firing tear gas and rubber bullets took over a traffic circle occupied by protesters, killing at least three people. Violence in five days of clashes brought the overall death toll between protesters and security forces to five, according to hospital workers. Bahrain acknowledged three deaths, saying journalists had exaggerated the violence.

–   By Thursday afternoon, columns of tanks and armored personnel carriers rolled down Manama’s highways and parked at key intersections. Scores of tanks stood at the Pearl Square roundabout, the scene of the morning’s clashes. Razor wire encircled the area. Evidence of the protesters’ former encampment—where demonstrators had erected tents and food stalls in what they said was their version of Cairo’s Tahrir Square—was removed.

–   Farnaz Fassihi has the latest on the military crackdown in Bahrain following three days of protests. Plus, unrest continues in Libya, Yemen and Iraq. Also, Egypt says Iran has asked for permission to allow its warships to pass through the Suez Canal.

–   "Force was used, but to protect the country," Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa said Thursday. "There’s no doubt that violence took place, and injuries were not intended to happen. But the security services were there for [a] very important reason: for Bahrain."

–   The crackdown in Bahrain, a tiny and prosperous banking hub on the Persian Gulf and the home of a key U.S. naval base, drew sharper expressions of concern than before from Washington, which called for restraint and said it supported the right of protesters to express themselves.

–   By late Thursday, an army officer appeared on state television warning people against congregating in public spaces, saying the army would take "strict" measures to prevent this.

Protesters relocated to the sidewalks and parking lot outside the capital’s Salmanyah Hospital, where bodies and injured have been sent. After nightfall, hundreds of people took over the parking lot outside the hospital’s emergency building, marching, repeating prayers for the dead and chanting slogans against the ruling family.

–   "This is the new roundabout," said Mohammed Hussein, 22, wearing a yellow vest denoting his role as a protest organizer.

–   Protesters said they sought the ouster of the country’s Sunni royal family. "At the start we wanted reforms like a constitutional monarchy," said protester Mohammad Khalil. "But now we want to topple the regime."

–   Such sentiments are sending a particular chill through leaders of neighboring Arab Gulf states also ruled by Sunni royal families.

–   Bahrain’s Shiite-majority population has for years pushed for more political and economic opportunities under the monarchy. In the mid-1990s, Shiite opposition groups fought bloody skirmishes with security forces that eventually pressured the royal family to open its political system to more Shiite representation.

–   Bahrain’s Shiite-led opposition has spearheaded the current protests, calling for more political say in the country’s affairs.

–   At an emergency meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes the six Arab states circling the Gulf, ministers issued a statement of support, underscoring regional fears that the protests here could spread. "The GCC stands hand in hand in the face of any threat to any GCC member," the communiqué read. "Any threat is a collective responsibility."

–   Before Thursday morning’s crackdown, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa had appeared eager to dial down tensions. After protests earlier in the week ended in two deaths, he made a rare TV appearance Thursday, apologizing to the victims’ families and promising to investigate.

–   But a few hours later, he sent troops to disperse crowds that had camped out in the roundabout. Witnesses said police in Pearl Square first attempted to shoot tear gas from a turnpike west of the square, but wind blew the gas back at them.

More forces then attacked from the eastern side, first bombarding the encampment with tear gas, then storming it from all sides at about 3 a.m., trampling tents and ripping banners, the witnesses said. Police regained control of the square and chased protesters through side streets, witnesses said.



–   U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament he had called Bahrain’s Foreign Minister on Thursday morning to "stress the need for peaceful action to address the concerns of protestors." Mr. Hague also called on the Bahraini government to carry out a "transparent investigation" into the deaths and any alleged human-rights abuses.

–   The protests also alarmed the global financial community, which has long viewed Bahrain as a liberalizing, regional financial hub. For decades it has served as an offshore banking center for Saudi Arabia, the Mideast’s largest—but still largely closed—economy. Fitch Ratings said Thursday it was reviewing Bahrain’s A rating for possible downgrade, citing expectations that protests will be prolonged.

–   International banks there said business was so far proceeding as usual, though they were in some cases looking for instructions from Bahrain’s central bank. A spokesman for J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. said employees there were advised to work from home Thursday.

–   The violence also threatened one of Bahrain’s key international marketing pushes. Formula 1 organizers said they may pull next month’s race in Bahrain, the opening event in the racing circuit’s season. Already, the GP2 Asia Series—a race similar to the main GP2 series that serves as a feeder to Formula 1—canceled its second round of races scheduled for this week at the Bahrain International Circuit due to the events there, according to the GP2 website. The site said the Bahrain Motorsport Federation requested the cancellation.

Through the day, demonstrators filed to Salmanyah Hospital, at one point forming a human chain around the facility.

–   Salmanyah Hospital officials said two of the dead men, one 23 years old and the other 62, had been shot at close range with buck shot. One witness, who gave his name as Khalil, said the older man had been arguing with security forces at the square when they made him lie on the ground and then shot him in the head at close range.

After nightfall, in the hospital’s parking lot, a man with a Bahraini flag led the protesters who shouted, "Death to al-Khalifa." Overhead, a government helicopter hovered.

–   Many people brought out bed sheets and sponge mattresses from the hospital and camped on sidewalks. A veiled girl sat on a scrap of cardboard at the emergency-room entrance reading the Koran. Others distributed food, water and refreshments.

Anti-regime slogans have been sprayed on walls on nearby buildings: "The revolution of rage will continue," read one. "The regime will fall," said another.

–   Mr. Hussein, one of the organizers, said protesters plan to hold the funeral for dead in the Shiite village of Sitra, outside Manama, on Friday morning, while others would attempt to hold their ground at the hospital.

—Julian E. Barnes in Washington and Dana Mattioli in New York contributed to this article.

Leave a Reply