Saturday, February 19, 2011

#Bahrain's National Dialogue Starts with the Bloody Kind

Viewer discretion is advised.

This is horrifying to watch, a government that turned against the peaceful assembly of its people. Yesterday, Bahrain's government was reported as saying it used proportional force against the demonstrators. I hate to imagine what its disproportional force looks like.

Today, the BDF was ordered to leave the Pearl Roundabout and the crowd has surged back.  Here is an update via NYT:

The government had ceded the square before, on Wednesday, only to return with a deadly assault on Thursday. On Friday, the army opened fire on a group of about 1,000 peaceful demonstrators trying to walk into the square.

The varying responses appeared to reflect an inner turmoil within the government to grapple with a response to the uprising. The confrontation on Friday, with the Bahrain Defense Forces firing on Bahraini citizens in plain light, seemed to be the shock that forced a change in the government’s approach.

On Saturday, it was Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the son of the king and deputy commander of the military, who ordered troops to leave the square.

NYT's Nick Kristof who is in Bahrain writes:

We don’t know what exactly President Obama said to the king in his call last night, but we do know that the White House was talking about suspending military licensing to Bahrain. This may have been a case where American pressure helped avert a tragedy and aligned us with people power in a way that in the long run will be good for Bahrain and America alike.

Americans will worry about what comes next, if people power does prevail, partly because Gulf rulers have been whispering warnings about Iranian-influence and Islamists taking over. Look, democracy is messy. But there’s no hint of anti-Americanism out there, and people treated American journalists as heroes because we reflect values of a free press that they aspire to achieve for their country. And at the end of the day, we need to stand with democracy rather than autocracy if we want to be on the right side of history.

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