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A LOSING STRATEGY? February 18, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Middle East, North Africa.
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In Bahrain, Yemen,and Libya rulers have unleashed violence on their own subjects.

The situation in Bahrain is extraordinary. Al Jazeera reports:

The Bahrain capital of Manama was rocked by sporadic clashes, hours after riot police attacked a makeshift encampment of pro-reform protesters in the centre of the city, killing at least six and injuring dozens of others.

An Al Jazeera correspondent, who cannot be named for security reasons, said on Thursday that “clashes were no longer limited to one place…they are now spread out in different parts of the city”. He said that the hospitals are full of injured people after last night’s police raid on the pro-reform demonstrators.

“Some of them are severely injured with gunshots. Patients include doctors and emergency personnel who were overrun by the police while trying to attend to the wounded.”

Another Al Jazeera online producer said that booms could be heard from different parts of the city, suggesting that “tear-gas is being used to disperse the protesters in several neighbourhoods”.

Latest reports, however, indicated that a tense calm had descended on the capital with troops patroling the streets. There were also reports of dozens of armoured vehicles moving towards the Pearl Roundabout, the protest site that was raided by the riot police.

Heavily-armed police stormed the traffic circle while the protesters camping overnight were asleep.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Salmaniya hospital, the main medical facility in Manama, Maryama Alkawaka of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said that she saw dozens of injured demonstrators being wheeled into emergency rooms early on Thursday morning.

Nazea Saeed, a journalist with Radio Monte Carlo, said hundreds of people had gathered at the hospital.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from the scene, she said the crowd is chanting: “Down with Al-Khalifa”, in reference to the country’s ruling family.

“People are also chanting that the blood of the victims will not be in vain,” she added.

Al Jazeera reported the doctors attending the wounded were beaten so they were hospitalized. They were lucky. Other wounded people were collected by the army. There are reports of missing people, including children.

Similarly from Benghazi in Libya, a live report was broadcast of armed mobs, including released prisoners attacking demonstrators.

Juan Cole suggests the situation in Egypt remains “explosive” despite the measures that the Military Government has put in place that may provide a transition to a parliamentary democracy.

The oligarchs of the Arab World have decided based on their reading of the Egyptian popular uprising and their individual circumstances to use extreme repression. What do they do when this does not stop the demonstrations? The economy of Bahrain, for example, must be extremely damaged. I suspect that no only will be process of following the lead but at some point mutual support.

Protests in Iran have been revived – suggesting that brutal repression does not work over time.

The situation is fluid. I would be surprised that if any regime in the Middle East and North Africa will be left untouched, including Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Equally, I would be surprise if the price of oil does not increase significantly.

ABC Lateline also reported mass protests in Iraq.

Martin Chulov in The Guardian is reporting that main hospital in Manama is the centre of the resistance to the regime, including opposition from doctors in the Intensive Care Unit. This seems to be a replication of the Egypt phenomenon in which there is a broad social result based on long standing grievances exacerbated by state repression.

The problem about people who use violence, whether it is the ruler of the Bahrain and his assault on the people in Manama, or the President of the United States who launches drones attacks on civilians, and all those who merely obey orders, is that in the course of history they have to be forgiven for what they do. Violence is the the quick fix that never works, even when it appears to work. I ought this insight to a friend I meet at the Supermarket. ( I am generalizing beyond what he said. He was referring to families).

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