Thugocracies shooting down their own citizens in the streets

Bahrain and Libya - two nations that have decided that this democracy nonsense can only be stopped by firing indiscriminately into crowds of unarmed protestors.

We may disagree as a country about the course that government reform must take in the Arab world, but I hope we are united in the belief that shooting citizens is not the way to achieve it.

In Bahrain, the protestors won a victory of sorts after a brutal crackdown left at least 10 dead. The royal family ordered the military to back off and today, protestors retook the square that was the scene of a bloody battle on Wednesday.

CNN:

Thousands of joyous Bahrainis retook a major square in the heart of the island nation's capital Saturday -- a dramatic turn of events two days after security forces ousted demonstrators from the spot in a deadly attack.The sight of citizens streaming into Pearl Roundabout came as the Bahrain royal family appealed for dialogue to end a turbulent week of unrest and the crown prince ordered the removal of the military from the Pearl Roundabout, a top demand by opposition forces.

Police were placed in charge but withdrew on the heels of the military.

The roundabout -- the focal point of protests in central Manama, much like Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital of Cairo -- was filled by people waving Bahraini flags, praying and honking horns.

 Meanwhile, no such restraint is being shown by Gaddafi in Libya where at least 60 protestors have been gunned down in the streets.

The Guardian
live blog of the demonstrations:

3.32pm, Libya: Security forces in Benghazi have shot dead at least one person and injured a dozen after opening fire on mourners at a funeral for 35 protesters killed in the violent unrest.

A hospital official told Reuters that snipers were firing from the top of the Benghazi security headquarters.

They tried to attack the security forces but when they heard shots fired in the air they ran away.

Local cleric Abellah al-Warfali told al-Jazeera that he had a list of 16 people being buried, most with bullet wounds to the head and chest.


I saw with my own eyes a tank crushing two people in a car. They hadn't done any harm to anyone.

The private Quryna newspaper, which is based in Benghazi and has been linked to one of Gaddafi's sons, said 24 people were killed in Benghazi on Friday.

It said security forces "were forced to use bullets" to stop protesters attacking the police headquarters and a military base where weapons were stored.

If Gaddafi's son says 24 were killed, you might want to at least double that number to get an approximation of reality.

Now that the army has backed off in Bahrain, will the Shias agree to dialogue? Or will their numbers grow until they threaten the stability of the Sunni monarchy once again? No doubt the US is applying tremendous pressure to our ally to talk so it is likely that some kind of negotiations will be tried. But given the schism between Sunni and Shia that has lasted more than 1200 years, no one should be hopeful of a positive outcome.

And we can expect more blood in Libya. Gaddafi will apparently shoot anyone who disagrees with this one man rule which means more martyrs will pile up in the morgues and further radicalize the mob. As long as the military is willing to pull the trigger, Gaddafi is safe. But if they balk at further bloodshed, Gaddafi will be in deep trouble.





Bahrain and Libya - two nations that have decided that this democracy nonsense can only be stopped by firing indiscriminately into crowds of unarmed protestors.

We may disagree as a country about the course that government reform must take in the Arab world, but I hope we are united in the belief that shooting citizens is not the way to achieve it.

In Bahrain, the protestors won a victory of sorts after a brutal crackdown left at least 10 dead. The royal family ordered the military to back off and today, protestors retook the square that was the scene of a bloody battle on Wednesday.

CNN:

Thousands of joyous Bahrainis retook a major square in the heart of the island nation's capital Saturday -- a dramatic turn of events two days after security forces ousted demonstrators from the spot in a deadly attack.

The sight of citizens streaming into Pearl Roundabout came as the Bahrain royal family appealed for dialogue to end a turbulent week of unrest and the crown prince ordered the removal of the military from the Pearl Roundabout, a top demand by opposition forces.

Police were placed in charge but withdrew on the heels of the military.

The roundabout -- the focal point of protests in central Manama, much like Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital of Cairo -- was filled by people waving Bahraini flags, praying and honking horns.

 Meanwhile, no such restraint is being shown by Gaddafi in Libya where at least 60 protestors have been gunned down in the streets.

The Guardian
live blog of the demonstrations:

3.32pm, Libya: Security forces in Benghazi have shot dead at least one person and injured a dozen after opening fire on mourners at a funeral for 35 protesters killed in the violent unrest.

A hospital official told Reuters that snipers were firing from the top of the Benghazi security headquarters.

They tried to attack the security forces but when they heard shots fired in the air they ran away.

Local cleric Abellah al-Warfali told al-Jazeera that he had a list of 16 people being buried, most with bullet wounds to the head and chest.


I saw with my own eyes a tank crushing two people in a car. They hadn't done any harm to anyone.

The private Quryna newspaper, which is based in Benghazi and has been linked to one of Gaddafi's sons, said 24 people were killed in Benghazi on Friday.

It said security forces "were forced to use bullets" to stop protesters attacking the police headquarters and a military base where weapons were stored.

If Gaddafi's son says 24 were killed, you might want to at least double that number to get an approximation of reality.

Now that the army has backed off in Bahrain, will the Shias agree to dialogue? Or will their numbers grow until they threaten the stability of the Sunni monarchy once again? No doubt the US is applying tremendous pressure to our ally to talk so it is likely that some kind of negotiations will be tried. But given the schism between Sunni and Shia that has lasted more than 1200 years, no one should be hopeful of a positive outcome.

And we can expect more blood in Libya. Gaddafi will apparently shoot anyone who disagrees with this one man rule which means more martyrs will pile up in the morgues and further radicalize the mob. As long as the military is willing to pull the trigger, Gaddafi is safe. But if they balk at further bloodshed, Gaddafi will be in deep trouble.





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