Crackdown in Bahrain leaves 5 dead

Rick Moran
As the protest wave continues to roll forward, we will see different reactions from different governments to the temerity of their captive citizens to want a little more say in decisions that affect their lives.

Dateline: Bahrain. Peaceful protests launched in the last few days have now been met with government violence.

The New York Times:

Without warning, hundreds of heavily armed riot police officers rushed into Pearl Square here early Thursday, firing shotguns, tear gas and concussion grenades at the thousands of demonstrators who were sleeping there as part of a widening protest against the nation's absolute monarchy.

At least five people died, some of them reportedly killed in their sleep with scores of shotgun pellets to the face and chest, according to a witness and three doctors who received the dead and at least 200 wounded at a hospital here. The witness and the physicians spoke in return for anonymity for fear of official reprisals.
The military said later it had taken control of most of the capital and banned protests, The Associated Press reported. The announcement on state television said the military had "key parts" of Manama "under control," hours after the killings.

Television broadcasts showed tanks rolling through the capital.

Why the violent response from the government? Bahrain's monarchy is Sunni while the majority of the population is Shia. This incendiary mix is the same that existed in Iraq prior to Saddam's removal. The Sunni minority cannot grant what the protestors want or they are finished. Hence, the vicious crackdown in the middle of the night.

It would be easy to pin the blame on Iran for these protests, but the Shias have been agitating for more rights for a couple of decades. Taken with the situation in Egypt, it appears this particular round of protests was inspired more by events in Cairo rather than any direction from Tehran. No doubt there are Iranian agitators among the Shia protestors, but all signs point to a more homegrown protest - this time.

The Gulf states are particularly vulnerable given their corrupt monarchies and ultra traditionalist worldview. Considering how sensitive the world oil markets are to disturbances like this, expect the per barrel price of oil to continue to shoot up as long as the threat of instability remains.

As the protest wave continues to roll forward, we will see different reactions from different governments to the temerity of their captive citizens to want a little more say in decisions that affect their lives.

Dateline: Bahrain. Peaceful protests launched in the last few days have now been met with government violence.

The New York Times:

Without warning, hundreds of heavily armed riot police officers rushed into Pearl Square here early Thursday, firing shotguns, tear gas and concussion grenades at the thousands of demonstrators who were sleeping there as part of a widening protest against the nation's absolute monarchy.

At least five people died, some of them reportedly killed in their sleep with scores of shotgun pellets to the face and chest, according to a witness and three doctors who received the dead and at least 200 wounded at a hospital here. The witness and the physicians spoke in return for anonymity for fear of official reprisals.

The military said later it had taken control of most of the capital and banned protests, The Associated Press reported. The announcement on state television said the military had "key parts" of Manama "under control," hours after the killings.

Television broadcasts showed tanks rolling through the capital.

Why the violent response from the government? Bahrain's monarchy is Sunni while the majority of the population is Shia. This incendiary mix is the same that existed in Iraq prior to Saddam's removal. The Sunni minority cannot grant what the protestors want or they are finished. Hence, the vicious crackdown in the middle of the night.

It would be easy to pin the blame on Iran for these protests, but the Shias have been agitating for more rights for a couple of decades. Taken with the situation in Egypt, it appears this particular round of protests was inspired more by events in Cairo rather than any direction from Tehran. No doubt there are Iranian agitators among the Shia protestors, but all signs point to a more homegrown protest - this time.

The Gulf states are particularly vulnerable given their corrupt monarchies and ultra traditionalist worldview. Considering how sensitive the world oil markets are to disturbances like this, expect the per barrel price of oil to continue to shoot up as long as the threat of instability remains.