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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pakistan halts NATO supplies after border attack

30 Sep 2010 11:03:30 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Three Pakistani soldiers killed in attack

* ISAF says helicopters did not cross into Pakistan

* Continued incursions could lead to 'snapping of relations'

(adds comments by intelligence official, execution video)

By Zeeshan Haider

ISLAMABAD, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Pakistani authorities blocked a vital supply route for NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan on Thursday, angered by a cross-border NATO airstrike that killed three Pakistani soldiers, officials said.

Trucks and fuel tankers for foreign forces in Afghanistan were stopped at Torkham border post in Khyber tribal region near the city of Peshawar, hours after the raid, the fourth reported by Pakistani authorities in recent days.

"Yes, the NATO supplies have been stopped. It has been done locally," a senior security official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

A spokeswoman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, however, said none of its helicopters had crossed into Pakistani airspace. The incident was under investigation.

Pakistan is a crucial ally for the United States in its efforts to stabilise Afghanistan, but analysts say the move to disrupt the supply route underlines tensions in the relationship.

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For more Pakistan stories click [ID:nAFPAK]

or see http://link.reuters.com/kac58m

For a graphic on the incident: http://link.reuters.com/vyv26p

Pakistan blog: http://blogs.reuters.com/pakistan/

For a timeline on attacks, click [ID:nLDE6681G8]

For scenarios on battle with Taliban [ID:nSGE68205L]

For a Q+A on militant attacks, click [ID:nSGE68103X]

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The bulk of military supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan moves through Pakistan.

Early on Thursday, two NATO helicopters from Afghanistan attacked a border village in Pakistan's Kurram region, the Pakistani security official said.

"The helicopters shelled the area for about 25 minutes. Three of our soldiers manning a border post were killed and three wounded," he said.

But ISAF spokeswoman Major Sunset Belinsky said the helicopters targeted militants in Afghanistan's eastern Paktia province, opposite Kurram, and did not cross into Pakistan.

Pakistan's military had informed ISAF that their border forces had been struck in the attack, she said in a statement.

"ISAF is working with Pakistan to ascertain if the two events are linked. The matter remains under investigation," she said.

It was the fourth possible aerial incursion since last week.

CIA CHIEF

The border row occurred as CIA chief Leon Panetta began a previously scheduled visit to Pakistan for talks with top military and political figures.

Panetta met the head of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, officials said. He was expected to meet army chief General Ashfaq Kayani later.

A senior intelligence official said talks between Panetta and Pasha lasted three hours on Wednesday. Pakistan assured the CIA chief of its commitment to the war on terror, he said.

But the official said incursions into Pakistan were a "red line" and could lead to a "total snapping of relations".

Neither country could afford that, the official said, so it would be a disaster if further incursions took place.

"But we'll live with that or we'll die with that," he said. "We're in a state of war. We've lost more than 30,000 people since 2001. What more can we lose? Another 100,000? These incursions are not something we can tolerate."

Pakistan has said it would consider "response options" if NATO forces continued to violate its sovereignty.

Washington has stepped up missile strikes by unmanned drone planes in Pakistan's northwest, carrying out 21 in September, the highest for a month since it began such attacks in 2008.

Also on Thursday, a video purporting to show Pakistani troops in northwestern Swat region summarily executing a group of bound and blindfolded young men appeared on the Internet.

The military is investigating, the intelligence official said, although he believed it was likely a forgery by the Pakistani Taliban for propaganda purposes.

Allegations of extrajudicial killings have dogged Pakistan's military since it started its clearing operation in Swat and South Waziristan last year. Pakistan has always denied it.

If the video is found to be genuine, it raises troubling questions for the United States and its support for the Pakistani army. U.S. law forbids the support of foreign militaries that have committed gross human rights violations.

Pakistan has received more than $10 billion since 2001 for its help in the war against al Qaeda and other militants. (Additional reporting by Chris Allbritton, Javed Hussain and Kamran Haider; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Ron Popeski) (For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/places/pakistan.)



Suicide attack on NATO convoy kills 3 civilians
30 Sep 2010 07:27:25 GMT
Source: Reuters
KANDAHAR, Sept 30 (Reuters) - A suicide bomber in a Toyota Corolla blew himself up beside a convoy of NATO troops in Kandahar on Thursday morning, killing three civilians and wounding 9 others, the provincial governor's spokesman said.

Spokesman Zalmay Ayubi said he could not comment on possible casualties within the convoy, and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said it had no immediate information about any incident in Kandahar.

"A suicide bomber targeted a convoy of NATO troops, on the Kandahar-Spin Boldak highway, killing three Afghan civilians and wounding twelve," Ayubi said.

The convoy was near a small bazaar, with a mosque and gas station, when the attack happened, leaving civilians vulnerable, Ayubi said. (Reporting by Ismail Sameem; Editing by Kim Coghill)


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MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) – Pakistani Taliban on Monday claimed responsibility for two attacks on NATO supply convoys in Pakistan and threatened to carry out more.

"We accept responsibility for the attacks on the NATO supply trucks and tankers," Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Azam Tariq told AFP.

"I am talking about attacks both in Sindh and in Islamabad," he said in a telephone call from an undisclosed location.

"We will carry out more such attacks in future. We will not allow the use of Pakistani soil as a supply route for NATO troops based in Afghanistan.

"This is also to avenge drone attacks," he added.

At least three people were killed when about 20 oil tankers loaded with fuel for NATO troops in Afghanistan were attacked and set ablaze near the Pakistani capital overnight, police said.

The attack came as Pakistani authorities continued their own blockade of a main land route for NATO supplies for a fifth consecutive day, in response to a NATO helicopter strike that Islamabad says killed three of its soldiers.

Television pictures showed flames towering from the trucks. The trucks were being filled just outside Islamabad en route to Afghanistan early in the morning when gunmen attacked the convoy with molotov cocktails.

In a similar incident on Friday in the south, heavily armed gunmen set ablaze more than two dozen trucks and tankers carrying fuel for the 152,000-strong foreign force fighting the Taliban-led insurgency.

"Three people have died, eight are injured. They have all received bullet injuries and are mostly drivers and their helpers," police emergency official Mohammad Ahad told AFP by phone after the latest incident.

Police said around a dozen people who attacked the supply tankers fled the scene.

Ambushes of NATO convoys are not uncommon, but are normally concentrated in strongholds of Islamist militants in the lawless northwest.

An administrative official at Torkham, the main border crossing, confirmed the blockade was continuing for a fifth day.

Queues of more than 200 trucks and oil tankers have formed at the northwestern Khyber pass border as they wait to deliver supplies.

Washington has described Pakistan's tribal belt on the Afghan border as a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda, a hub of militants fighting in Afghanistan and the most dangerous place on Earth.

More than 3,700 people have been killed in the last three years in a series of suicide attacks and bomb explosions in Pakistan, many of them carried out by the Taliban and other Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist extremists.

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Gunmen in Pakistan torch nearly 30 NATO fuel tankers
09 Oct 2010 02:42:02 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Militants increase attacks after NATO's cross-border raid

* U.S. apology raises hopes Pakistan will reopen supply route (Adds drone strike, background)

By Gul Yusufzai

QUETTA, Pakistan, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Gunmen in southwestern Pakistan set fire to nearly 30 tankers carrying fuel for NATO troops in Afghanistan on Saturday, an official said, two days after the United States apologised to Pakistan for a cross-border air raid that killed two Pakistani soldiers.

Suspected Islamist militants have stepped up attacks on convoys carrying supplies for NATO forces since the Sept. 30 NATO air strike in northwestern Pakistan described by the U.S. ambassador as a terrible accident.

About 20 gunmen set fire to around 30 tankers parked outside at a roadside restaurant near the southwestern town of Sibi in a pre-dawn attack, the official said.

The tankers were on their way to the border town of Chaman.

"The attackers first fired shots and then fired small rockets at the tankers. Twenty-eight to 29 tankers caught fire," local government official Naeem Sherwani told Reuters. He said one of the paramilitary soldiers escorting the convoy was wounded.

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For more Pakistan stories click [ID:nAFPAK]

or see http://link.reuters.com/kac58m

Pakistan blog: http://blogs.reuters.com/pakistan/

Q+A on militants in Pakistan [ID:nSGE69307F] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

The U.S.-backed Pakistani government is battling Taliban insurgents who remain effective despite military crackdowns on their strongholds in the northwest near the Afghan border.

Two suspected suicide bombers struck at a crowded Sufi Muslim shrine in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Thursday, killing at least seven people and wounding 65.

The U.S. apology for the Sept. 30 cross-border raid had raised the hopes that Pakistan would reopen a vital supply route in the northwest for coalition forces which Islamabad shut after the NATO strike, citing security reasons.

A second supply route passing through southwestern Pakistan has remained open.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said after the U.S. apology that security was being evaluated and a decision on reopening the supply route through the famous Khyber Pass would be taken "in due course", but also emphasised Washington and Islamabad were "allies in the fight against militancy".

Trucking routes through Pakistan bring in around 40 percent of supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan, according to the United States Transportation Command. Of the remainder, 40 percent come through Afghanistan's neighbours in the north and 20 percent by air.

The helicopter strike was the most serious of recent cross-border incidents involving NATO-led forces fighting in Afghanistan, which have stoked tensions with Pakistan.

The United States has been pressing Pakistan to take a harder line against militants launching cross-border attacks from their Pakistani safe havens on Western forces in Afghanistan.

An alleged al Qaeda plot to attack European targets has put Pakistan's performance against militants under further scrutiny.

The United States has also stepped up missile strikes against al Qaeda and Taliban militants by pilotless drones in Pakistan's lawless northwestern border regions in recent weeks.

On Friday night, at least five militants were killed in the latest such strike in the North Waziristan tribal region.

(Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Nick Macfie)

(For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/places/pakistan.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lt Gen KS Wyne gets top slot

Lt Gen KS Wyne gets top slot

President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday appointed Lieutenant General Khalid Shamim Wyne as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC). PHOTO: ISPR

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday appointed Lieutenant General Khalid Shamim Wyne as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) in what is seen as the first tangible outcome of hectic political maneuvering in the power corridors this week. Lt Gen Wyne will assume the post on October 8.

The decision that came a little over 24 hours after a crucial meeting of the power troika — the president, the prime minister and the army chief — is also expected to have a deep impact on the country’s political horizon.

The president, in his capacity as supreme commander of the armed forces, approved the appointment in consultation with the prime minister.

Gen Wyne, who is currently serving as Chief of General Staff, will replace General Tariq Majid as 14th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee on October 8. The Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee comprises three services chief and the secretary of the defence ministry is also part of it. Its chairman automatically replaces the president as the supreme commander of the armed forces in times of war.

The appointment was reportedly one of the ‘conflicting’ issues the troika met to settle on Monday afternoon.

According to a ruling party insider, President Zardari had wanted to appoint Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Nauman Bashir as CJCSC. Admiral Bashir is the brother of Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.

According to experts, Zardari would have wanted to appoint Bashir for a couple of “politically-motivated” reasons, one of them to lessen the army’s dominance over other services — the navy and the air force.

In historic perspective, the Pakistan Army has always been the most dominant of forces. Last week, Admiral Nauman made no effort to deny that he was being appointed as CJCSC during a chat with reporters.

Had there been no extension in Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani’s tenure by three years, Gen Wyne would have been the senior-most general in the army and thus a potential candidate for a four-star post.

Observers say that by handing him the key post of a four-star general, Gen Kayani has somehow compensated Gen Wyne.

The office of chairman JCSC was created in 1976 by the late prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on the recommendation of the White Paper on Higher Defence Reorganisation. Its headquarters is located in Chaklala. Bhutto appointed General Muhammad Sharif as the first CJCSC. He served the office from 1976-78.

The 57-year-old Khalid Shamim Wyne is a three-star general who has been serving as Chief of General Staff (CGS) since April 2010.

He has previously headed the Southern Command (formerly the XII Corps) in Quetta from 2007 till 2010, overseeing the Baloch insurgency and the fallout of the war in the tribal areas.

Wyne comes from an army background. His father, Colonel Arshad Shamim Wyne, served in the army until 1972.

His unit was the 20th battalion of the Punjab Regiment.

He received his earlier education from different cantonment schools all over Pakistan and joined Cadet College Hasan Abdal as special entry in 1969 after Matriculation.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2010.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Iran reports 6.1 earthquake west of Shiraz

27 Sep 2010 12:04:06 GMT
Source: Reuters
TEHRAN, Sept 27 (Reuters) - A 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit southern Iran on Monday but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

The Iranian Seismological Centre reported that the quake hit at 11:22 GMT at a depth of 8 km (5 miles) in Konar Takhteh, west of the city of Shiraz. The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 5.7 magnitude quake west of Shiraz.

A local official confirmed the quake, saying: "So far we have no reports of casualties." Residents in Shiraz felt the quake, a witness told Reuters.

Iran is criss-crossed by major faultlines and is frequently hit by earthquakes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Food for worms

Altaf Hussain claims MQM enemies who killed Farooq now baying for his blood

Karachi, Sep 25 : Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain has claimed that the 'enemies of the MQM' who had killed the party's senior leader- Dr Imran Farooq- were now wanting to take his life as well.

"Now the enemies of the movement are after my life, but I want to tell them that I am not afraid of anyone, whether it's a superpower like the United States or its Nato allies or their Pakistani agents," the Dawn quoted Hussain, as saying in a telephonic address from London to a condolence meeting at the MQM headquarters in Karachi.

"I fear the Almighty Allah and will never bow down before the conspirators even if they get my British citizenship rescinded,"
he added.

Urging people to distinguish between friends and foes and understand the conspiracies being hatched against Pakistan, Hussain said he had complete faith in the justice of the Almighty Allah and one day the killers of Farooq would be unmasked before the world.

He also claimed that some elements were "distorting facts to save the killers of Dr Farooq," and making misleading stories against the MQM, but added that despite all odds, the party would continue its struggle.

MQM leader Farooq, who was living in exile in north London, was found murdered outside his home some days back.



Food for worms
By Ardeshir Cowasjee
Sunday, 26 Sep, 2010
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‘Altaf Bhai’s request is not unreasonable, it may be unrealistic.’ – File Photo

For some months prior to the alarming ‘demand’ (yes, in Pakistan politicians and others who feel they are of import always ‘demand’), the rumour mills were churning out scenarios of a ‘change’ in the present stunningly alarming dispensation.

What that good British citizen, who dwells happily in the Mill Hill area of North London ‘demanded’ was that certain army generals, whose patriotism would spur them on, should step in and do something, anything, to bring about ‘change’.

He subsequently clarified that he had not ‘meant’ that the country revert to the 1958, 1977 or 1999 modes but that the mighty military (which denotes just the army) should oversee a type of transition from an unwieldy government (the identities of the majority of its members are unknown to the public) to a tighter form of government less tainted by gross corruption scandals and equally gross incompetence, which could usher in some sort of competence (even a modicum (A small, moderate, or token amount:) would do at this stage). His next clarion call from London was for a revolution, which he said he would be willing to lead if the Karachi chapter of his party were to ‘allow’ him to return to what was once his homeland.

Now, any sort of revolution, be it along the lines of an uprising or of the national mindset (which is desperately needed) is not on the cards. Revolutions demand national cohesion, a common goal and vitally, a charismatic leadership. Pakistan is endowed with none of these attributes.

Anyhow, the utterances of Altaf Bhai of London Town certainly make an impact. His ‘demand’ and suggestion hold the media transfixed. Millions of words, written and spoken, are being devoted to them — all to no avail as it would seem impossible, in this morass (An area of low-lying, soggy ground.) in which we exist, to locate individuals available, able or willing to step in on a rescue mission (if there is one it will have to be arranged in Washington).

The sad fact is that right now, in the government, there is not one credible figure amongst those who were shot into empty slots via the ballot boxes which were visited, it has been calculated, by some 30 per cent of the great unwashed electorate under thrall(One who is intellectually or morally enslaved.) of the feudals that control them.

So, Altaf Bhai’s request is not unreasonable it may be unrealistic. We have the White House, the army and the Supreme Court as bodies of men possibly capable of devising a team which could provide some sort of governance to replace the void in a country seen to be fast imploding (To collapse inward violently.). The scorn heaped upon the present so-called leadership is humiliating for the state and a large slice of public opinion — the media, internet, street talk — is firmly convinced that they can no longer stomach the government or parliament.

This does not denote that there is a clamour for martial law. But we do remember the mid-1993 situation when the presidential-prime ministerial relationship was such that the country was at a virtual standstill and violence a real and present danger. The army chief of the time, a most honourable general (yes, there are such men) stepped in and without raising his swagger stick, sent both the president and prime minister home. All was calm and collected; he organised an interim government of technocrats who constitutionally announced elections. The short-term problem was solved, the long-term problem remained.

As has been pointed out the president-prime minister situation today is quite different. As opposed to confrontation there is placidity (The quality or state of being placid; calmness; serenity.), with the party chief president in full charge with his coterie (A small, often select group of persons who associate with one another frequently.) of sycophants (A servile self-seeker who attempts to win favor by flattering influential people.) doing what they fancy.

Not only have we men and women placed in positions for which they are manifestly unfit but we have on our hands a national tragedy, the floods plus ongoing killings, bombings, and other sickening violence, all of which the nation has become so inured (To habituate to something undesirable, especially by prolonged subjection; accustom:)to that death and destruction are now a part of life.

As for priorities, for both the government and the nation they are skewed to the extreme. The national mindset is fixated upon concepts such as honour and dignity (of both of which we are bereft-Deprived of something), the chips on the shoulders the nation bears are so glaring and confidence in the state is so shattered as to make us undecipherable(Not easily decoded or comprehended.
) in the eyes of the world. How, asks one friend from Britain, is the west to determine the sense of ethical values in the Islamic Republic if on the one hand it has to deal with the arousal (To awaken from or as if from sleep.) of national ‘pride’ and indignation (Anger aroused by something unjust, mean, or unworthy.) over some perceived slight or honest criticism, and on the other hand its inhabitants remain immune to the deep schisms existing in the land and to acceptance when Pakistanis kill and maim (To injure, disable, or disfigure, usually by depriving of the use of a limb or other part of the body) their co-religionists and fellow citizens?



We are also witnessing the reaction of the world to the floods’ begging bowl. Pledges are made, but hard cash is a rarity and when it comes in, dissatisfaction is expressed as to how it has been spent and into which pockets it has landed. This is a shaming fact. We are regarded as mendicants (Depending on alms for a living; practicing begging) armed with suicide belts.

To repeat, ad nauseam (To a disgusting or ridiculous degree; to the point of nausea.

): we are not living in the country envisaged by its founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Somewhere along the way, there should have been some heeding(To pay attention to; listen to and consider:) of what it was he told us he wanted. But no, Pakistan is a travesty (An exaggerated or grotesque imitation, such as a parody of a literary work.)of all the man stood for. Ninety per cent of the disaster that is Pakistan today hinges upon two factors enunciated by Jinnah, two factors ignored and thrown to the wicked winds: the first duty of any government is to impose and maintain law and order and, emphatically, religion is not the business of the state.

arfc@cyber.net.pk

Tie-wallah gang ‘undressing’ houses in DHA, Clifton

Police on the vanishing trail of six-member gang

KARACHI: A six-member gang has been looting and robbing households across Clifton, Defence and Gulshan-e-Iqbal for the last four years. According to the police, these robbers are experts in disguise. They are also notorious for carrying out robberies while dressed in suits, which is why they have become infamous as the “Tie wallah group”.

“The Tie-wallah group is as infamous as the White Corolla Car Group,” said Clifton SP Tariq Dharejo. All members of the gang are expert robbers. They never misbehave with the women in the house they are robbing. They always use an expensive car so that the police will have a tough time finding them, he explained. Numerous cases have been filed against all members of the gang in police stations across the city, Dharejo added.

Police officials said that they believe this gang has amassed so much wealth and money through their robberies that they are actually doing business in Malaysia. However, they have yet to get more information on this, added the officials.

The gang leader is Muhammad Imran Khan alias Bhurmal, who is a resident of Kolokhara in Kasur district. According to police records, Khan lives in North Karachi. He is on the list of most wanted criminals.

His second wife, Samar, used to work as a receptionist at the ISM Hospital before her wedding. Police records state that Samar’s mother, Nighat, used to work in a hospital as a maid.

Another member of the gang is identified as Farhan, who is Imran’s brother. He also lives in North Karachi with Imran.

The third member is Syed Afzal Ali while another member, Kamran, was recently killed in a police encounter.

Officials claim there are two other young criminals in the gang. Police also believe that the gang has contacts with an official in the jails department, who helps them out in tight spots.

The group operates early in the morning after the men of a household have left for office. All suited and booted, these men move around in a car. They often stop in front of a bungalow or house they plan to rob and try to get information from servants and those around the neighbourhood under the pretext of looking for directions.

“As soon as somebody is fooled into opening the gate, the job is made simple for them,” said an official. Once the door is opened, they use their weapons to hold anyone inside the house hostage and proceed to loot the entire house.

Dumping any and all valuables into plastic bags, the robbers escape with ease in their car. After spreading terror in Defence and Clifton, the group has now directed its attentions towards other parts of the city, said police officials.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2010.

PM gets list of over 70 serving beneficiaries

Updated list to be presented to Supreme Court tomorrow

ISLAMABAD: As the saga of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) beneficiaries gains momentum, the government has prepared a ‘separate list’ of beneficiaries of the scrapped law who are still working in different government departments, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Last week, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had directed the Establishment Division to compile a list of NRO beneficiaries holding public office which has been furnished to him, establishment division sources said.

The list carries the names of the more than 70 beneficiaries still working in departments including the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd (OGDCL) and different ministries in the federal government.

Another list that carries the names of leading politicians and technocrats was made public last year by the then state minister of law and justice Afzal Sandhu. The list carried 248 names out of over 8,000 beneficiaries of a law enacted by the former president General Pervez Musharraf in 2007.

The Supreme Court later struck down the legislation declaring it “void ab initio” – that is, the law never legally existed. The court had ordered the government to reopen the cases against all accused, including President Zardari and many top government functionaries.

The government will be presenting the list of major beneficiaries of the NRO in the Supreme Court tomorrow (Monday).

The name of President Asif Ali Zardari, who was allegedly involved in eight different cases, has been deleted from the other list that contains some 270 names that the government will submit with its summary on the implementation of the NRO verdict. The government insists that the president has immunity under the Constitution and no case against him can be opened till he holds office of the head of state.

The name of Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who was accused of illegal detention of complainants and illegal gratification, is on top of the list.

Establishment secretary Ismail Qureshi confirmed to The Express Tribune that the list carries some 270 serving officials, including some 15 top officials of ruling political groupings.

NAB director general operations, Kausar Malik, also confirmed that one list already has been put up in the Supreme Court. However, a fresh list of NRO beneficiaries will be presented on Monday, he added.

Meanwhile, the former state law minister was curious about the reported change in the list of NRO beneficiaries compared to the list he had made public. “I won’t comment on that but I believe in the list which I made public on November 2009 carrying 8,041 names of NRO beneficiaries,” he said.

While the Establishment Division list further revealed the names of Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, parliamentary leader of the MQM in the National Assembly Dr Farooq Sattar, Minister for Ports and Shipping Babar Ghauri, Sindh Provisional Minister Shoaib Bokhari, Minister of State for Housing Tariq Anis, Sindh Minister for Local Bodies Agha Siraj Durani, Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqani, Secretary President House Salman Farooqi, Assistant Director FIA Sajjad Haider, Inspector FIA Moeen Ashraf, Assistant Director FIA Ishrat Ali, Assistant Director FIA, Noor Muhammad Kaka, Additional Director FIA Ali Asghar Kaka, Assistant Manager GHQ, Habibullah Tasnim, Pir Mukaram-ul-Haq and many other top officials.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2010.


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ISLAMABAD: The list of officers who benefited from the National Reconciliation Order 2007 is nearing completion and reportedly contains numerous politicians and bureaucrats holding senior positions in the government.

Express 24/7 reports that Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, Hussain Haqqani is in the list of NRO beneficiaries that is being prepared by the Establishment Division. Another notable name on the list is that of Salman Farooqi, who is serving as the Secretary General to the Presidency.

Ambassador to Iran MB Abbasi and former DG Intelligence Bureau, retired Brigadier Imtiaz Ahmad, have also made the list. Another beneficiary of note is Ahmad Sadiq, the former personal secretary to the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto.


Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had directed the Establishment Division to prepare the list within 48 hours following a contempt notice issued by the Supreme Court on the appointment of Adnan Khwaja, an NRO beneficiary who was appointed as chairman of OGDC.

A 17-member larger bench of the Supreme Court had unanimously struck down the NRO on December 16 2009. However, the Supreme Court has been dissatisfied with the government’s inaction to implement the NRO verdict.

===============

EDITORIAL: A possible showdown

Prime Minister Gilani has stood his ground on the issue of reopening the Swiss cases. He has reiterated that parliament is supreme and President Zardari has immunity under the constitution. The president is part of parliament and the supreme commander of the armed forces.

Article 248 (2) of the constitution clearly says: “No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President … in any court during his term of office.”


But PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, on the other hand, is of the view that the Supreme Court (SC) will be the one to decide whether the president enjoys immunity. It seems that Mian sahib is taking sides with the judiciary for political gains. It should not be forgotten that today’s ‘champion’ of the judiciary was the same Nawaz Sharif whose last stint in power yielded an attack on the SC by his supporters in 1997.

It is time that we take stock of the current situation and the consequences that could ensue. The National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was a negotiated deal and a concession by General Musharraf to Benazir Bhutto and the PPP in order to pave the way for her to end her self-imposed exile and re-enter politics. Musharraf wanted a political lifeline after his popularity took a sharp turn downwards. Though the PML-N was not a direct beneficiary of the NRO, in the wake of the ordinance, the Sharifs were also able to reinsert themselves in the political process. Without the NRO and the re-entry of late Ms Bhutto into Pakistani politics, the Sharif brothers too would have been left high and dry in exile. The NRO’s controversial weight has largely been visited on the politicians despite the fact that out of the 8,041 beneficiaries, only 34 are politicians.

Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Chaudhry’s remarks that
“the prime minister is a wise man, he must know the consequences of the non-implementation of the NRO verdict”
can be construed in a negative sense. There is a risk that the institutions of the state are transgressing their limits as laid down in the constitution and thus the respected CJ’s words may make the SC controversial and bring into question the impartiality of the apex court. Judges have to be cautious in their utterances to avoid the risk of lowering the courts’ respect and dignity.

Prime Minister Gilani has now asked the NRO beneficiaries to step down voluntarily, but this should have been done earlier given the logical implications after the NRO was struck down by the SC. On the other hand, the ruling party seems to have decided to gird up its loins and defend its position vis-à-vis President Zardari. It is extremely unfortunate that in the middle of immense crises, we have come to this pass. Presumably, the summary sent by the law ministry to the prime minister has suggested that the government should not write a letter to the Swiss authorities, which is what the SC has asked them to do. A bare reading of the overall situation seems to suggest that it may be difficult to reopen the Swiss cases and satisfy the court. If the government does send the letter to the Swiss authorities, what would happen if the Swiss refuse to entertain its request?
A wiser course of action would be for the SC to review its directive regarding the reopening of Swiss cases, as it would lower the respect of our country if a sitting president is put in an embarrassing position before the world. *




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Sunday, September 26, 2010

ANALYSIS: Democracy at the brink? Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

Democracy is a joint exercise of different state institutions and the political class with an emphasis on constitutionalism, the rule of law and respect for democratic principles. If one institution develops an aura of self-righteousness and adopts a unilateral approach of setting everything right, the political process will be stifled

Democracy is a delicate system of governance that can easily be destroyed if its spirit is violated and competing political players are strongly motivated by partisan interests, immediate gains or personal ego, or if they engage in a self-serving interpretation of democratic principles and the constitution.

Democracy calls for institutional autonomy and balance. Different state institutions need to function within their defined constitutional and legal parameters. They need to respect each other’s autonomous status and no state institution should endeavour to overwhelm another institution.

Out of the major state institutions, parliament has an edge over other institutions because of its representative character and its position as the supreme legislative body. However, it exercises power within the limits set out by the constitution and the laws it frames.

Such a democratic system faces challenges from two major sources. First, if an institution of the state stretches its domain of authority at the expense of other institutions or if one institution attempts to overwhelm other institutions. Second, a fragmented and divided political class whose commitment to democracy and constitutionalism is nominal and self-serving, i.e. as long as it serves partisan interests. Democracy cannot become viable if the major players are prepared to adopt or encourage non-democratic and unconstitutional methods to pull down the elected government of their adversaries.


In the past, the military dominated other institutions of the state. Four military governments engaged in constitutional and political engineering to hold on to power and advance their professional and corporate interests. This stifled the democratic process and undermined the autonomous growth of civilian institutions and processes.

Pakistan returned to democracy for the fourth time in March 2008 when elected governments were installed at the federal and provincial levels after the February 2008 general elections. Thirty months later, even an optimist finds it difficult to suggest that democracy has become sustainable. Democracy is under strong pressure from the superior judiciary in the wake of a possible executive-judiciary confrontation, sections of the political class that want to get rid of the government by all possible means, and the government’s own poor performance.

All sections of the political class, including the leaders in power, are more enthusiastic about imposing the strictest standards of morality, accountability and democracy on each other without bothering to consider if their individual disposition conforms to the desired criteria.

Most opposition leaders want the Supreme Court (SC) to knock out President Asif Ali Zardari or the PPP-led federal government either directly or by asking the army to send tanks and troops to do this, because they think that the federal government cannot be removed through parliament. They have the mistaken notion of the judiciary and the army fulfilling their partisan agenda.

However, parliamentarians and other leaders do not want anybody to raise any issue about their overall performance or their financial assets. The recent publication of a comparative study of their assets by a non-governmental organisation, the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), has perturbed most parliamentarians irrespective of party affiliations. They have described this as a conspiracy to malign them and democracy. The data used for the study is taken from the annual statements of assets that parliamentarians submit to the election commission. This information is available in the public domain. Still, they do not want anyone to analyse it and release their findings to the media.

An over-active judiciary may facilitate the opposition’s objective of keeping the government under pressure or its removal altogether. However, the political class is unable to realise the long-term implications of this for the future of democracy and the political leaders and parties.

Past experience suggests that the removal of governments by non-elected institutions like the military did not help democracy and accountability of the ruler; nor did it improve governance. It placed restrictions on the role of political leaders except when they agreed to be co-opted by the ruling generals. Now, another non-elected institution, the judiciary, is mounting pressure, which, if not handled carefully, can lead to a confrontation among the state institutions, causing acute political instability.

The threat of confrontation between the PPP-led federal government and the superior judiciary is going to be extremely destabilising and will be detrimental to the future of democracy. The major opposition parties are expected to support the SC in this confrontation. Unlike November1997, when Nawaz Sharif confronted the SC to save his government, he is expected to support the SC this time for punitive action against the present prime minister and/or the president.

Democracy is a joint exercise of different state institutions and the political class with an emphasis on constitutionalism, the rule of law and respect for democratic principles in letter and spirit. If one institution develops an aura of self-righteousness and adopts a unilateral approach of setting everything right, the political process will be stifled.

All the major cases currently before the superior judiciary involve specific articles of the constitution. Some of the articles like immunity to the president from initiating or continuing with any criminal proceedings (Article 248(2)) are so clear-cut one wonders why this matter should stay unresolved for such a long time. Similarly, the constitution recognises the primacy of parliament for constitutional amendments (Article 239(5), (6)), and a party office is not yet labelled as an office of profit. In the past, the heads of state and government have held the top party slot without triggering appeal to the superior judiciary. Such political issues should be settled in parliament by legislation for the separation of the two offices.

These controversies have brought Pakistan’s current democracy to the brink of collapse. The fact remains that if the present state of affairs is not changed, Pakistan may become a non-functional and non-effective state. What will the military do, whose stakes are very high in political stability, because it is addressing the triangular challenge of terrorism, India’s security pressure, and rescue and relief work for the flood-hit people? It may be hesitant to get involved in another task. However, if the situation gets out of hand with the pro and anti-government elements confronting each other, the military top brass may find it difficult to stay indifferent. Alternatively, the superior judiciary may seek the military’s cooperation.

Unless the present drift between the superior judiciary and the executive is moderated, Pakistan’s capacity to cope with its acute economic problems, the threat of terrorism and the rehabilitation of the flood-hit people will be greatly undermined.

The writer is a political and defence analyst


==========


Bureaucracy in the eye of the storm

Two lists of NRO beneficiaries to be presented

ISLAMABAD: Not only some ministers but also the serving bureaucrats, who profited from the now-scrapped National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), might face temporary suspension till revived cases against them are decided by courts, according to NAB rules.

The government is expected to present to the Supreme Court this week a list of those civil servants who were the beneficiaries of the NRO but cases against them stood revived when the apex court struck down the ordinance last year.

The section 15 of the NAB Ordinance 1999 says the person convicted by courts stands disqualified for 15 years and has to cease public office, if any, forthwith, ex-prosecutor general Irfan Qadir said.

“Additionally, section 15 also disqualified the convicted person from contesting elections,” he said, adding, “the section 24 empowers the NAB chief to order arrest of the accused during the case investigation.”

Ikram Chaudhry, who also presented his arguments in the NRO case on behalf of his client, says that the NRO beneficiaries holding public offices must be suspended under NAB laws.

“Whether their cases are being tried in courts or their sentences have been suspended, it’s binding on NAB to suspend their services,” he said.

Attorney Geneal Maulvi Anwar-ul-Haq believes that the government would present two lists of NRO beneficiaries through ministry of law and NAB by end of this week.

According to fresh reports of public servants prepared by the NAB and the law ministry, Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s name appears on top of the NRO beneficiaries’ list. He was convicted in various cases of illegal gratification and recently his appeal was dismissed by the Lahore High Court.

Moreover, Sindh Minister Shoaib Bokhari, Minister for Local Bodies Sindh Agha Siraj Durrani, Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, MQM Parliamentary Leader Dr Farooq Sattar, Minister for Ports and Shipping Babar Ghauri, Minister of State for Housing Tariq Anis, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqani and Political Secretary of President House Salman Farooqi have been convicted by accountability courts.

Interestingly, the name of President Asif Ali Zardari has been omitted from the list prepared by clubbing the ones put together by the law ministry and NAB.

Besides, the lists, copies of which are available with The Express Tribune, cite the names of 13 Auditor General of Pakistan officials. Among them are Assistant Superintendent Abdul Razzaq Bhatti, account officer Shahamat Ali, typist Tariq Mehmood, assistant audit officer Hanif Ahmad Rahi, senior auditors Abbas Ali, Muhammad Safdar Hussain and junior CM Ibrar Hussain.

The officials of Capital Development Authority were also not far behind in getting benefits under the NRO. Prominent among them are Assistant Director Manzoor Hussain Shah, Naib Tahsildar Muhammad Farooq and Taramat Hussain.

The officials of Post Qasim Authority also derived benefit from this law. Among the leading names are XENs Civil Pir Bux Solangi and Hamzo Khan Gabol.

Some 19 names of Federal Board of Revenue employees figure in the list. They are: Collector Custom Muhammad Nawaz Butt, Assistant Collector Muhammad Ali Changezi, Inspector Custom Khalid Aziz, Collector Adjudication Customs Javed Iqbal Mirza, Superintendent Dry Port Customs Muhammad Saleem, Assistant Collector Customs Asim Majeed and Khizar Iqbal, Appraising Officer Naseerud Din, Principal Appraisar, Sakhi Muhammad, Appraising Officer Customs Qasim Pervaiz, Principal Appraiser Custom Qazi Afzaal Hussain, UDC Income Tax Muhammad Usman, LDC Income Tax Arshad Mehmood, AC Custom Javid Iqbal Mirza, Inspector Custom Sarwar Akhtar, Accounts Officer Muhammad Sarwar, Superintendent Custom Muhammad Younis Butt, Inspector Customs Sher Dad Khan and Sajjid Hussain.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani recently asked the NRO beneficiaries to resign ‘voluntarily’, saying that the list of public servants who profited from NRO would be submitted to the SC once the verification process is completed.

Published n The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2010.

=====

A question of ‘strategery’
By Feisal Naqvi
Published: April 22, 2011
The writer is a partner at Bhandari, Naqvi & Riaz and an advocate of the Supreme Court. The writer can be reached at http://twitter.com/#!/laalshah. The views presented in the article above are not those of his firm
The problem of how to resist a superior force is one that is as old as time. As it happens, so is the answer.

When confronted with overwhelming force, the solution is not to offer open battle but to hide in the shadows, emerging only to snipe at a passing column, to draw a detachment into a small but deadly skirmish; in short, to inflict the death of a thousand cuts on the enemy.

The term ‘guerrilla’ literally means ‘little war’ and was first coined to refer to the fighters who harassed the armies of Napoleon in Spain. From there, it is a direct line descending through the Long Marchers of Chairman Mao to the Viet Cong, the Mujahideen, the Taliban, the rope-a-dope tactics of Muhammad Ali, and, most pertinently, the legal wing of the PPP.

When the PPP first came to power, it had the option of embracing the lawyers’ movement. Instead, while the PPP repeatedly swore to reinstate the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), perhaps even with one hand on the Holy Quran, it also repeatedly reneged on those oaths. It was only as a consequence of a popular convulsion which left the PPP no choice, that Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was restored as the CJP.

One likely reason why the PPP took such an obstructive stance is that there is very little which can be done about a rampant judiciary. At the end of the day, the only real check on the superior judiciary is its sense of propriety. That sense of propriety depends in part on inherited tradition and in part on public perception. The Pakistani public, however, sees the judiciary as a solution for all evils. All of which is another way of saying that our judiciary is currently not significantly constrained by public perception.

In these circumstances, how does one survive an evidently (but perhaps righteously) hostile court? The solution, as noted above, is to adopt the standard tactics of the insurgent. The PPP, therefore, does not pick direct fights with the judiciary: Instead, it prevaricates, it delays, it finesses, it draws the court into a debilitating sequence of meaningless fights and so it lives to fight another day.

Take, for example, the case challenging Musharraf’s infamous National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) which had erased criminal charges pending against many persons (coincidentally including the late Benazir Bhutto and her husband). In December 2009, the Supreme Court (SC) declared not only that the NRO was unconstitutional but that all cases processed under the NRO were still open, including, most importantly, the cases against Asif Ali Zardari earlier pending in Switzerland.

After its decision, the SC exerted every sinew to get the federal government to ‘implement’ the NRO judgment, by writing to the Swiss and asking them to restart the cases. Even though any such letter would have been a waste of time, the Swiss having no interest in pursuing Mr Zardari any more, the PPP refused. This, in turn, produced a series of hearings in which the federal government presented every possible excuse to refuse to send the letter in question, including the official version of ‘the dog ate my homework’ (‘Sir, voh file nahin mil rahi’). Eventually, the SC gave up and suspended its own judgment in review proceedings.

There is much speculation that the shelving of the review petition was intended by the judiciary as some sort of an olive branch. If it was, the gesture failed. Instead, the relationship between the judiciary and the PPP has continued to be one which, in colloquial Punjabi, is described as existing between a brick and a dog.

Many members of the legal community regard the PPP government’s approach as shameful. That may well be true, but it misses the point. By entangling the judiciary in a never-ending series of skirmishes, the PPP government has succeeded in muddying the waters. Faced with daily reports of strife between the government and the judiciary, the average citizen tends to triangulate so that even those who favour the judiciary leave open the possibility that, perhaps, the judges are also at fault. This response operates to the advantage of the government because, while the regime is already subject to heavy criticism in any number of fields, the judiciary must, like Caesar’s wife, avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

The manner in which the government has handled the recent re-emergence of the NRO review petition is a perfect example of legal guerrilla warfare. On day one, the federal government asked to change its lawyer, knowing full well that the application was likely to be refused. Had the SC called the government’s bluff and allowed the change of counsel on day one, the review would have been decided by now. Instead, the SC unwittingly cooperated by sternly rejecting the application. The Feds then challenged the rule which says that lawyers cannot be changed in review (again on the basis of a risibly defective argument), at which point it finally became clear to everyone that the government was not interested in arguing the matter, only in claiming victim status.

Having already boxed itself in, the SC then tried to extricate itself by saying that (a) the additional attorney-general (AAG) could be heard as he had been a lawyer in the original case and (b) the AAG could — nudge, nudge, wink, wink — be assisted by any counsel of the government’s choice. This eminently sensible option was, of course, rejected by the government on “grounds of principle”. In the meantime, the solicitor instructing the AAG withdrew, as he was allegedly “indisposed” (though apparently healthy enough to deal with 400 other cases, as was acidly noted by the CJP) while the file dealing with the withdrawal of instructions was found to have been “misplaced”. The net result so far is that two weeks of judicial time have been wasted and the SC seems stuck with no option but to dismiss the review application; which is perhaps why the case was recently adjourned for two weeks.

Law schools tend to teach jurisprudence more than military tactics. But if the judiciary is to avoid being outfoxed, the CJP may have to replace his copy of Black’s Law Dictionary with Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2011.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jews have America, we have Iran on our side

No wonder the USraelis were enraged when Shah and his brutal autocratic regime fell to the Iranian people.Late Ayatollah Khomeini proved his Islamic credentials by handing the keys of the Israeli embassy in Tehran to late Yasser Arafat to raise the Palestinian flag on its mast. Under Ahmedinejad, Iran has been a strong supporter for Arab and Muslim causes; especially for the implementation of 39 UN security council resoutions which Israel ignores. Although it is not militarily wise to announce what weapons one has , but it is necessary to show Iran's USraeli enemies what they expect if they ever dare to harm the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Americans claimed that Iraq had violated 2 UN resolutions concerning its weapons of mass destruction. So Iraq had to be invaded and destroyed but no-one goes to invade let alone destroy Israel for developing and stockpiling all kinds of WMD besides being in breach of 39 UN Security Council Resolutions. To the hard luck of the Americans and their stooges, Iraq didn't have WMD. American foreign policy supported by the miltary is an insult to people intelligence. Obama or President Watermelon will not be able to change people perception about American brutal double standards and unjust selective morality.


Shame on Obama . Shame on America. The Israelis are in total control of
American foreign policy. Nothing is more umiliating to Obama than having the
Israelis boycotting his speech at the United Nations.

What is left and right in politics has been confused following the collapse of the Soviet Union. For example, Mr Mikhail Gorbachev is to the left of Mr Yeltsin although both belonged to the communist party. And the position of Mr Tony Blair, the former UK Prime Minister of the leftist labour party, can be easily classified as being to the right of the British conservative party. In Iraq, the Iraqi communist party accepted the brutal US occupation and took part in the US-established political process, while religious leaders like Shiite Saayd Muqtada Al-Sadra and Sunni Dr Hareth Al-.Dhari have opposed it. In my opinion, all those who support the US occupation and control of Iraqi affairs must be considered as representing the extreme right who betrayed Iraq, while all those who are carrying arms and fighting it are the real leftists, regardless of their religious or political affiliation. I call on the various splinter groups of the left (including the three communist parties of Iraq) to unite and to embrace the Iraqi resistance. Furthermore, Mr Ahmedinejad, Mr Hannia of Hamas, and Sayyad Hassan Nassulrallh of Hizbullah who are opposing the USraeli hegemony and aggression must be regarded as the revolutionary leaders of the new left movement in the Islamic and Arab worlds.


Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

=============


By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer Matthew Lee, Associated Press Writer – Fri Sep 24, 5:23 pm ET

NEW YORK – President Barack Obama and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traded heated remarks Friday on the emotional subject of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and hopes for a quick resumption of talks on Iran's suspect nuclear program appeared to fade.

Obama accused Ahmadinejad of making "offensive" and "hateful" comments when he said most of the world thinks the United States was behind the attacks to benefit Israel. The Iranian president defended his remarks from a day earlier at the United Nations General Assembly and suggested that a fact-finding panel be created by the U.N. to look into who was behind them.

"It was offensive," Obama said in an interview with the Persian service of the BBC that was to be broadcast to the Iranian people. "It was hateful."

"And particularly for him to make the statement here in Manhattan, just a little north of ground zero, where families lost their loved ones, people of all faiths, all ethnicities who see this as the seminal tragedy of this generation, for him to make a statement like that was inexcusable," Obama said.

Obama said Ahmadinejad's remarks will make the American people even more wary about dealing with his government.

"For Ahmadinejad to come to somebody else's country and then to suggest somehow that the worst tragedy that's been experienced here, an attack that killed 3,000 people, was somehow the responsibility of the government of that country, is something that defies not just common sense but basic sense — basic senses of decency that aren't unique to any particular country — they're common to the entire world," he said

In a news conference at a Manhattan hotel, Ahmadinejad shot back, saying he had not made any judgments about who was responsible for 9/11 and lashed out at the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as an overreaction to the attacks.

"I did not pass judgment, but don't you feel that the time has come to have a fact finding committee," he said of his General Assembly address that prompted the U.S. delegation to walk out of the session along with those from all 27 European Union nations, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Costa Rica.

America should "not occupy the entire Middle East ... bomb wedding parties ... annihilate an entire village just because one terrorist is hiding there," Ahmadinejad said.

Accusations that the U.S. or Israeli governments were culpable in the Sept. 11 attacks surfaced not long after U.S. authorities blamed young Arab men for hijacking American passenger jets and crashing them into the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

A survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project in 2006 found that majorities of Muslims in Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan said they did not believe groups of Arabs carried out the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks. The survey also found that just over half the Muslims in Great Britain held similar opinions, as did almost a fifth of Muslims in the U.S.

Ahmadinejad routinely makes incendiary remarks, including verbal threats to destroy Israel, that the West believes are aimed at diverting attention from heavy international pressure on Tehran to end uranium enrichment and prove that it is not trying to build a nuclear weapon.

Iran, which insists it is enriching uranium only to fuel nuclear reactors to generate electricity, is under four sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions as punishment for its failure to make its nuclear ambitions transparent.

It has continued to defy international demands to come clean about its intentions despite offers of incentives to cooperate.

Earlier this week, the five permanent members of the Security Council — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China — and Germany renewed their invitation for Iran to return to the table amid signs that Tehran might be willing to resume long-stalled negotiations.

Ahmadinejad said Friday that he thought Iran might be able reopen contact next month to set a framework for negotiations with the group, known as the P5+1. He added that he would "consider" a halt to uranium enrichment if an outside source would provide the 20-percent enriched fuel Iran needs for a medical research reactor.

But Obama seemed unimpressed with the Iranian position. He sharply criticized Iran's leadership for hurting its people by incurring severe financial and trade sanctions when it refuses to comply.

"Right now what the Iranian government has said is, it's more important for us to defy the international community, engage in a covert nuclear weapons program, than it is to make sure that our people are prospering," he told the BBC. "And the international community I don't think prefers the choice that has been taken."

Obama stressed, however, that the door to negotiations remains open. Ahmadinejad has so far refused to return to talks because of the latest round of sanctions that followed Iran's failure to respond to Obama's initial overtures.

___

Associated Press writer Mark S. Smith contributed to this report.


=================
Obama is an 'international villain': Iranian speaker

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran's parliament speaker on Saturday called US President Barack Obama an "international villain" for saying the United States supports the Iranian people's democratic aspirations.

"How dare Obama announce that he wants to help the Iranian nation? He should know that he is an international villain," Ali Larijani was quoted by ISNA news agency as saying during a visit to the southern city of Shiraz.

"The Americans are displaying an act that deserves an international evilness medal... Mr Obama should know that we do not need his message, what we need is to be able to trust the words he utters,"
he said.

Larijani's remarks came a day after the American leader told the BBC's Persian service that the door for diplomacy with Tehran was still open over its long-standing nuclear dispute with the international community.

"Our strong preference is to resolve these issues diplomatically. I think that's in Iran's interest. I think that is in the interest of the international community," Obama said.

"I think it remains possible, but it is going to require a change in mindset inside the Iranian government," he said.

Asked if he was for or against the Iranian people in their struggle for greater freedoms, Obama said Washington supports democratic aspirations.

"The answer is that for those who aspire to have their voices heard, to participate in a democracy that recognises their human dignity -- we will always stand with them."

Relations between Tehran and Washington have become increasingly fraught since the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency began in 2005, and over his defiant pursuit of Iran's controversial nuclear programme.

Ahmadinejad, while attending the UN General Assembly session in New York this week, said Tehran was open to new nuclear talks provided the United States and Western powers were respectful to the Islamic republic.

Minister summoned for anti-army, judiciary remarks



ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani summoned State Minister for defence production Sardar Abdul Qayyum Jaoti for making remarks against the army and the judiciary on Saturday.

Earlier, Jatoi had said the army is not meant to kill innocent citizens and alleged that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary belonged to Faisalabad but that he used a domicile of Balochistan to become a judge.

He was talking to the media after his meeting with the president of Jamhoori Watan Party Nawabzada Talal Bugti in Quetta.

He also said that former president Pervez Musharraf would be arrested upon his return to Pakistan as he has been nominated in Akbar Bugti’s murder.

Bikini or headscarf -- which offers more freedom?


LONDON: In a move that appears to be an act of moral policing, authorities in a small Italian town have decided to fine women who wear miniskirts or show too much cleavage. Women will face fines of up to 500 euros under new rules to be introduced in an Italian town..
By Krista Bremer, O, The Oprah Magazine
June 9, 2010 -- Updated 1609 GMT (0009 HKT)
Oprah

Krista Bremer holds her daughter Aliya in the scarf the child decided she wanted to wear.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

* Mother remembers summers of wearing shorts, her feelings wearing first bikini
* Her young daughter wants to wear headscarf for modesty
* Mom imagines scarf's magical powers protecting girl's unself-conscious goodness

(OPRAH.com) -- Nine years ago, I danced my newborn daughter around my North Carolina living room to the music of "Free to Be...You and Me", the '70s children's classic whose every lyric about tolerance and gender equality I had memorized as a girl growing up in California.

My Libyan-born husband, Ismail, sat with her for hours on our screened porch, swaying back and forth on a creaky metal rocker and singing old Arabic folk songs, and took her to a Muslim sheikh who chanted a prayer for long life into her tiny, velvety ear.

She had espresso eyes and lush black lashes like her father's, and her milky-brown skin darkened quickly in the summer sun. We named her Aliya, which means "exalted" in Arabic, and agreed we would raise her to choose what she identified with most from our dramatically different backgrounds.

I secretly felt smug about this agreement -- confident that she would favor my comfortable American lifestyle over his modest Muslim upbringing. Ismail's parents live in a squat stone house down a winding dirt alley outside Tripoli. Its walls are bare except for passages from the Quran engraved onto wood, its floors empty but for thin cushions that double as bedding at night.

My parents live in a sprawling home in Santa Fe with a three-car garage, hundreds of channels on the flat-screen TV, organic food in the refrigerator, and a closetful of toys for the grandchildren.

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I imagined Aliya embracing shopping trips to Whole Foods and the stack of presents under the Christmas tree, while still fully appreciating the melodic sound of Arabic, the honey-soaked baklava Ismail makes from scratch, the intricate henna tattoos her aunt drew on her feet when we visited Libya. Not once did I imagine her falling for the head covering worn by Muslim girls as an expression of modesty.

Last summer we were celebrating the end of Ramadan with our Muslim community at a festival in the parking lot behind our local mosque. Children bounced in inflatable fun houses while their parents sat beneath a plastic tarp nearby, shooing flies from plates of curried chicken, golden rice, and baklava.

Aliya and I wandered past rows of vendors selling prayer mats, henna tattoos, and Muslim clothing. When we reached a table displaying head coverings, Aliya turned to me and pleaded, "Please, Mom -- can I have one?"

She riffled through neatly folded stacks of headscarves while the vendor, an African-American woman shrouded in black, beamed at her. I had recently seen Aliya cast admiring glances at Muslim girls her age.

I quietly pitied them, covered in floor-length skirts and long sleeves on even the hottest summer days, as my best childhood memories were of my skin laid bare to the sun: feeling the grass between my toes as I ran through the sprinkler on my front lawn; wading into an icy river in Idaho, my shorts hitched up my thighs, to catch my first rainbow trout (A freshwater food and game fish); surfing a rolling emerald wave off the coast of Hawaii. But Aliya envied these girls and had asked me to buy her clothes like theirs. And now a headscarf.

Oprah.com: How do you get your daughter to talk to you?

In the past, my excuse was that they were hard to find at our local mall, but here she was, offering to spend ten dollars from her own allowance to buy the forest green rayon one she clutched in her hand. I started to shake my head emphatically "no," but caught myself, remembering my commitment to Ismail. So I gritted my teeth and bought it, assuming it would soon be forgotten.

That afternoon, as I was leaving for the grocery store, Aliya called out from her room that she wanted to come.

A moment later she appeared at the top of the stairs -- or more accurately, half of her did. From the waist down, she was my daughter: sneakers, bright socks, jeans a little threadbare at the knees. But from the waist up, this girl was a stranger. Her bright, round face was suspended in a tent of dark cloth like a moon in a starless sky.

"Are you going to wear that?" I asked.

"Yeah," she said slowly, in that tone she had recently begun to use with me when I state the obvious.

Oprah.com: Your kids are different...and it's okay

On the way to the store, I stole glances at her in my rearview mirror. She stared out the window in silence, appearing as aloof and unconcerned as a Muslim dignitary visiting our small Southern town -- I, merely her chauffeur.

I bit my lip. I wanted to ask her to remove her head covering before she got out of the car, but I couldn't think of a single logical reason why, except that the sight of it made my blood pressure rise. I'd always encouraged her to express her individuality and to resist peer pressure, but now I felt as self-conscious and claustrophobic as if I were wearing that headscarf myself.

In the Food Lion parking lot, the heavy summer air smothered my skin. I gathered the damp hair on my neck into a ponytail, but Aliya seemed unfazed by the heat. We must have looked like an odd pair: a tall blonde woman in a tank top and jeans cupping the hand of a four-foot-tall Muslim. I drew my daughter closer and the skin on my bare arms prickled -- as much from protective instinct as from the blast of refrigerated air that hit me as I entered the store.

As we maneuvered our cart down the aisles, shoppers glanced at us like we were a riddle they couldn't quite solve, quickly dropping their gaze when I caught their eye.

In the produce aisle, a woman reaching for an apple fixed me with an overly bright, solicitous smile that said "I embrace diversity and I am perfectly fine with your child." She looked so earnest, so painfully eager to put me at ease, that I suddenly understood how it must feel to have a child with an obvious disability, and all the curiosity or unwelcome sympathies from strangers it evokes.

At the checkout line, an elderly Southern woman clasped her bony hands together and bent slowly down toward Aliya. "My, my," she drawled, wobbling her head in disbelief. "Don't you look absolutely precious!" My daughter smiled politely, then turned to ask me for a pack of gum.

In the following days, Aliya wore her headscarf to the breakfast table over her pajamas, to a Muslim gathering where she was showered with compliments, and to the park, where the moms with whom I chatted on the bench studiously avoided mentioning it altogether.

Oprah.com: Why her faith is colliding with her workout routine

Later that week, at our local pool, I watched a girl only a few years older than Aliya play Ping-Pong with a boy her age. She was caught in that awkward territory between childhood and adolescence -- narrow hips, skinny legs, the slightest swelling of new breasts -- and she wore a string bikini.

Her opponent wore an oversize T-shirt and baggy trunks that fell below his knees, and when he slammed the ball at her, she lunged for it while trying with one hand to keep the slippery strips of spandex(A synthetic fiber or fabric made from a polymer containing polyurethane, used in the manufacture of elastic clothing.)in place. I wanted to offer her a towel to wrap around her hips, so she could lose herself in the contest and feel the exhilaration of making a perfect shot.

It was easy to see why she was getting demolished at this game: Her near-naked body was consuming her focus. And in her pained expression I recognized the familiar mix of shame and excitement I felt when I first wore a bikini.

At 14, I skittered down the halls of high school like a squirrel in traffic: hugging the walls, changing direction in midstream, darting for cover. Then I went to Los Angeles to visit my aunt Mary during winter break. Mary collected mermaids (A legendary sea creature having the head and upper body of a woman and the tail of a fish.), kept a black-and-white photo of her long-haired Indian guru on her dresser, and shopped at a tiny health food store that smelled of patchouli and peanut butter. She took me to Venice Beach, where I bought a cheap bikini from a street vendor.

Dizzy with the promise of an impossibly bright afternoon, I thought I could be someone else -- glistening and proud like the greased-up bodybuilders on the lawn, relaxed and unself-conscious as the hippies who lounged on the pavement with lit incense tucked behind their ears. In a beachside bathroom with gritty cement floors, I changed into my new two-piece suit.

Goose bumps (Momentary roughness of the skin caused by erection of the papillae in response to cold or fear. Also called goose flesh, goose pimples.)spread across my chubby white tummy and the downy white hairs on my thighs stood on end -- I felt as raw and exposed as a turtle stripped of its shell. And when I left the bathroom, the stares of men seemed to pin me in one spot even as I walked by.

In spite of a strange and mounting sense of shame, I was riveted by their smirking faces; in their suggestive expressions I thought I glimpsed some vital clue to the mystery of myself. What did these men see in me -- what was this strange power surging between us, this rapidly shifting current that one moment made me feel powerful and the next unspeakably vulnerable?

I imagined Aliya in a string bikini in a few years. Then I imagined her draped in Muslim attire. It was hard to say which image was more unsettling. I thought then of something a Sufi Muslim friend had told me: that Sufis believe our essence radiates beyond our physical bodies -- that we have a sort of energetic second skin, which is extremely sensitive and permeable to everyone we encounter. Muslim men and women wear modest clothing, she said, to protect this charged space between them and the world.

Growing up in the '70s in Southern California, I had learned that freedom for women meant, among other things, fewer clothes, and that women could be anything -- and still look good in a bikini. Exploring my physical freedom had been an important part of my process of self-discovery, but the exposure had come at a price.

Oprah.com: Why women are the future of education

Since that day in Venice Beach, I'd spent years learning to swim in the turbulent currents of attraction -- wanting to be desired, resisting others' unwelcome advances, plumbing the mysterious depths of my own longing.



I'd spent countless hours studying my reflection in the mirror -- admiring it, hating it, wondering what others thought of it -- and it sometimes seemed to me that if I had applied the same relentless scrutiny to another subject I could have become enlightened, written a novel, or at least figured out how to grow an organic vegetable garden.


On a recent Saturday morning, in the crowded dressing room of a large department store, I tried on designer jeans alongside college girls in stiletto heels, young mothers with babies fussing in their strollers, and middle-aged women with glossed lips pursed into frowns. One by one we filed into changing rooms, then lined up to take our turn on a brightly lit pedestal surrounded by mirrors, cocking our hips and sucking in our tummies and craning our necks to stare at our rear ends.

When it was my turn, my heart felt as tight in my chest as my legs did in the jeans. My face looked drawn under the fluorescent lights, and suddenly I was exhausted by all the years I'd spent doggedly chasing the carrot of self-improvement, while dragging behind me a heavy cart of self-criticism.

At this stage in her life, Aliya is captivated by the world around her -- not by what she sees in the mirror. Last summer she stood at the edge of the Blue Ridge Parkway, stared at the blue-black outline of the mountains in the distance, their tips swaddled by cottony clouds, and gasped. "This is the most beautiful thing I ever saw," she whispered. Her wide-open eyes were a mirror of all that beauty, and she stood so still that she blended into the lush landscape, until finally we broke her reverie by tugging at her arm and pulling her back to the car.

At school it's different. In her fourth-grade class, girls already draw a connection between clothing and popularity. A few weeks ago, her voice rose in anger as she told me about a classmate who had ranked all the girls in class according to how stylish they were.

I understood then that while physical exposure had liberated me in some ways, Aliya could discover an entirely different type of freedom by choosing to cover herself.

I have no idea how long Aliya's interest in Muslim clothing will last. If she chooses to embrace Islam, I trust the faith will bring her tolerance, humility, and a sense of justice -- the way it has done for her father. And because I have a strong desire to protect her, I will also worry that her choice could make life in her own country difficult. She has recently memorized the fatiha, the opening verse of the Quran, and she is pressing her father to teach her Arabic. She's also becoming an agile mountain biker who rides with me on wooded trails, mud spraying her calves as she navigates the swollen creek.

The other day, when I dropped her off at school, instead of driving away from the curb in a rush as I usually do, I watched her walk into a crowd of kids, bent forward under the weight of her backpack as if she were bracing against a storm. She moved purposefully, in such a solitary way -- so different from the way I was at her age, and I realized once again how mysterious she is to me.

It's not just her head covering that makes her so: It's her lack of concern for what others think about her. It's finding her stash of Halloween candy untouched in her drawer, while I was a child obsessed with sweets. It's the fact that she would rather dive into a book than into the ocean -- that she gets so consumed with her reading that she can't hear me calling her from the next room.


I watched her kneel at the entryway to her school and pull a neatly folded cloth from the front of her pack, where other kids stash bubble gum or lip gloss. Then she slipped it over her head, and her shoulders disappeared beneath it like the cape her younger brother wears when he pretends to be a superhero.

As I pulled away from the curb, I imagined that headscarf having magical powers to protect her boundless imagination, her keen perception, and her unself-conscious goodness. I imagined it shielding her as she journeys through that house of mirrors where so many young women get trapped in adolescence, buffering her from the dissatisfaction that clings in spite of the growing number of choices at our fingertips, providing safe cover as she takes flight into a future I can only imagine.


Oprah.com: Moms pass down their best beauty secrets

Pakistan PM cancels trips, speculation on government

25 Sep 2010 09:01:30 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Media speculation over government's fate

* Floods highlight military's role

* Military coup unlikely

By Michael Georgy

ISLAMABAD, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has cancelled visits starting this month to Europe, the foreign ministry said, a move which could intensify media speculation that pressure is mounting for a change in government.

The government's perceived poor handling of summer floods has raised questions over political stability in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country fighting homegrown Taliban insurgents which the U.S. regards as vital to efforts to stabilise Afghanistan.

"In view of his pre-occupations with the post-flood situation, the Prime Minister has decided not to go ahead with his scheduled visits to Paris and Brussels," said a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman in a statement.

"(The) Prime Minister's official visit to France is being re-scheduled."

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will lead Pakistan's delegation to the Asia-Europe summit in Brussels next month, said the statement. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

For more Pakistan stories, click

[nAFPAK] or http://link.reuters.com/kac58m

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Pakistani leaders have said the government has done its best to help flood victims given its limited resources and have appealed for international aid to help with reconstruction.

The military has taken the lead in relief and rescue efforts, reinforcing the view that it's Pakistan's most decisive and efficient institution in times of crises.

Those dynamics have raised questions in the Pakistani media and elsewhere about the fate of the civilian government.

"No one knows if Gilani decided at the spur of the moment to cancel his visit, or he was advised not to travel abroad in the face of the urgency the government is facing because of the floods and the pressure for a change in government," said an article in Pakistan's The News newspaper on Saturday.


Gilani's press secretary, Shabbir Anwar, said he had been scheduled to leave at the end of this month for Paris with a delegation of 40 other officials to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy and then travel from there on Oct 1 to Brussels.

Instead Gilani decided to stay behind and the size of the delegation was reduced to save on expenses after the floods.

"This had nothing to do with politics," Anwar told Reuters.

The military, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its history, has held huge sway over security and foreign policy, even while civilian governments have been in power.

"Recent rumours of a pending military coup are fueled by politicised private media groups, which hope to undermine the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) led government of President Asif Ali Zardari," said Pakistan PM cancels trips, speculation on government.

Even though Pakistan has a history of military coups, analysts say one is unlikely now because the army would inherit the flood disaster, and a takoever could make Western donors hestitant to provide aid for reconstruction after floods.

It may, however, try to manipulate Pakistani politics from behind the scenes, Eurasia said.

(Additional reporting by Kamran Haider and Sheree Sardar; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

(For more Reuters coverage of Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/places/pakistan)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bomb attack kills 10 people in western Iran

AP


Wearing ghilli suits, Iranian army troops march during a parade marking the 30th anniversary of outset of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, in front of the m AP – Wearing ghilli suits, Iranian army troops march during a parade marking the 30th anniversary of outset …

* Ahmadinejad says capitalism is dying Play Video Iran Video:Ahmadinejad says capitalism is dying Reuters
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* Ahmadinejad UN speech lost in translation Play Video Iran Video:Ahmadinejad UN speech lost in translation AFP

By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer Nasser Karimi, Associated Press Writer – 1 min ago

TEHRAN, Iran – A bomb exploded at a military parade in northwestern Iran on Wednesday, killing 10 spectators in an attack that one official blamed on Kurdish separatists who have fought Iranian forces for decades.

The blast in the city of Mahabad, close to the borders with Iraq and Turkey, also injured 57 people, Iranian media reports said. Most of the victims were women and children, said provincial Governor Vahid Jalalzadeh, who was quoted in a report by Iran's state broadcasting company.

Iranian forces in the border zone have for years clashed with Kurdish rebels from the Iranian wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party, which also has fighters based in Turkey and Iraq. The group in Iran has generally not targeted civilians in its campaign for greater rights for the Kurdish minority, raising the prospect that the bomb might have gone off prematurely.

A state radio report said the device was detonated on a timer and had been placed under a bush near the parade route.

Jalalzadeh said that explosion was carried out by "counterrevolutionaries," a reference to the Kurdish separatist group. He called the bombing "a terrorist incident."

The parade was one of several events around the country to mark the 30th anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war. No military personnel were wounded, Jalalzadeh said.

The Mehr news agency said the dead included the wives of two of ranking military officers.

"The explosion happened opposite the VIP stage among women who were present there," Jalalzadeh was quoted as saying in the state TV report.

The Iranian branch of the Kurdish rebel group, the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, says it is fighting for greater rights in Iran.

The city of Mahabad is home to 190,000 people — most of them Kurds and Sunni Muslims. Iran is predominantly Shiite.

Mahabad was once the capital of the self-proclaimed republic of Kurdistan in Iran. Iran's armed forces recaptured Mahabad in 1946.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Helicopter crash makes 2010 deadliest of Afghan war

21 Sep 2010 04:26:30 GMT
Source: Reuters
(For more on Afghanistan, click on [ID:nAFPAK])

(Adds details, background)

KABUL, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Nine coalition troops were killed on Tuesday when a helicopter crashed in Afghanistan's south, the NATO-led force said, making 2010 the deadliest year of the nine-year war.

Two NATO service members, an Afghan soldier and a U.S. civilian were wounded in the crash. They were taken to hospital for treatment, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

There was no indication of the nationality of the dead troops, ISAF said in a statement. An ISAF spokesman said more information would be released later.

There was no enemy fire in the area when the aircraft crashed and the cause is under investigation, ISAF said.

The deaths take the toll so far in 2010 to at least 529, according to monitoring website iCasualties.org. Last year, the previous deadliest, 521 foreign troops were killed.

Violence in recent months has soared to its highest levels since the removal of the Taliban by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.

There are almost 150,000 foreign troops fighting a growing Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan, supporting about 300,000 Afghan security forces. U.S. President Barack Obama ordered in an extra 30,000 troops, the last units of which arrived this month.

Aircraft crashes are not infrequent in Afghanistan. In October 2009, two helicopter crashes killed 11 U.S. soldiers and three U.S. civilians. (Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Paul Tait and Ron Popeski)

Bahrain revokes citizenship of top Shia cleric: Regional jitters as Bahrain faces flashpoint funerals

Kuwaitis take PM ouster call to streets
Wed Mar 9, 2011 7:52AM

Conference held in Berlin on Bahrain crackdown by presstv




===


FACTBOX-Key political risks to watch in Bahrain

03 May 2011 16:58

Source: reuters // Reuters

MANAMA, May 3 (Reuters) - Mass protests mostly by Bahrain's Shi'ite majority population have shaken the stability of the Gulf Arab kingdom, home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, and prompted it to invite in troops of its Sunni Gulf neighbours.

The protesters, before their demonstrations were crushed in March, had taken to the streets for weeks to demand greater political liberties, a contitutional monarchy and an end to sectarian discrimination.

The government has since launched a rolling crackdown on Shi'ite villages and the opposition. Its actions have halted mass protests for now, but analysts say they may cost the country long-term stability as the sectarian divide deepens between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.

Here are some of the main political risks in Bahrain:

POLITICAL TENSION

Sectarian tension had long simmered in Bahrain even before protests brought tens of thousands to the streets in February and March. Shi'ites complain of unequal access to state jobs, housing and health care, accusations the government denies.

The Sunni al-Khalifa family rules over 1.2 million people, about half of them foreigners. Shi'ites say Bahrain is trying to change the demographic balance by granting citizenship and jobs in the security apparatus to Sunnis from elsewhere.

The introduction of a new constitution and parliamentary elections a decade ago helped calm Shi'ite discontent. But the assembly's lack of influence revived tension in a youthful population, half of whom are aged below 30.

During the current crackdown, the government said it would seek to dissolve Wefaq, the main Shi'ite opposition group that took part in parliamentary elections and brought large parts of the Shi'ite population into the political system.

The government has softened its position toward Wefaq under international pressure but maintains pressure on the Shi'ite population with checkpoints crisscrossing the country.

The opposition says hundreds have been arrested under the crackdown and state-owned companies have fired hundreds of Shi'ite workers, a trend that could deepen economic inequalities and pave the way for future unrest.

A military court in late April sentenced to death four men for killing two policemen by running them over with cars on or around March 16, a verdict that could also fuel tensions.

What to watch for:

- Continued protests and efforts to contain them.

IRAN CONFLICT

The United States and Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, regard tiny Bahrain as a bulwark against neighbouring Shi'ite power Iran, which they fear is seeking a nuclear weapons capability. Iran denies that.

Bahrain has close political and commercial ties with Riyadh, which is particularly wary of non-Arab rival Iran and which sent 1,000 troops into Bahrain in March to help quell the Shi'ite-led protests.

Bahraini government officials accuse Iran and the Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah of stirring the recent unrest in Bahrain, increasing friction in the world's top oil-exporting region.

In April, Bahrain ordered the expulsion of an Iranian diplomat for alleged links to a spy ring in fellow Gulf state Kuwait, and the Islamic Republic said it may retaliate.

Yet Iran's influence in Bahrain remains limited because Bahraini Shi'ites look more to clerics in more moderate centres such as Kerbala and Najaf in Iraq than to those in Iran.

Bahrain, with its U.S. naval base, could be a target of Iranian reprisals if the United States or Israel attacked Iran.

The Manama naval base lets the U.S. military protect Saudi oil installations and the Gulf waterways used to transport oil, without any sensitive presence of Western troops on Saudi soil.

What to watch for:

- Rising tensions between Gulf states and Iran.

- Status of nuclear talks between Iran and the West.

ENERGY

Bahrain, like its Gulf Arab neighbours, has seen a rapid increase in natural gas consumption as its economy has grown.

It consumed 1.3 billion cubic feet of gas per day (cfd) in 2007 and expects consumption to rise to 2 billion cfd in less than a decade. Bahrain produces about 1.7 billion cfd.

Plans to import gas have been hampered by political tension with regional producers Qatar and Iran, threatening growth.

Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), for example, raised $338 million in an initial public offering in November 2010 but has had to postpone expanding output partly due to lack of energy.

Talks on importing 1 billion cfd of gas from Iran have faltered since 2009, when an Iranian official made comments that appeared to question Bahrain's sovereignty.

Oil markets fear that a wave of popular unrest that has already toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt could spread further in the Gulf Arab region, which accounts for 40 percent of global oil production. Such worries helped push Brent crude prices to a 28-month high of $104 a barrel on Feb. 17.

What to watch for:

- Status of plans to build facility to import liquefied natural gas.

BANKING

Bahrain's status as a regional banking, trading and Islamic finance centre is also at risk with $10 billion parked in mutual funds in the kingdom.

Bahrain has made itself a regional banking hub for the Gulf's oil wealth. Its banks hold assets of about $211 billion.

Bankers say that the unrest in the kingdom and the ensuing crackdown has damaged Bahrain's main advantage of being a convenient and liberal business location.

Contagion fears could spread to regional sovereign debt and potential capital outflows could put pressure on Bahrain's currency peg to the dollar. The central bank said in February that the country saw no major capital flight.

What to watch for:

- Short term decline in business until the business climate improves.

- Bahrain's sovereign rating.

- Capital outflows.

===


Shi'ite worshippers condemn Bahrain death sentences

29 Apr 2011 21:52

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Some Shi'ites say condemned men were framed

* U.S. says "troubled" by reports of human rights abuses

* Germany urges Bahrain to rescind "draconian punishment"

(Adds further US State Department comment)

By Frederik Richter

MANAMA, April 29 (Reuters) - Thousands of Bahraini Shi'ites gathered before a revered cleric on Friday denounced death sentences given to protesters over anti-government rallies crushed last month in the U.S.-allied Gulf kingdom.

The verdict, handed down by a military court a day earlier to four men accused of killing two policemen in violent protests last month, could intensify sectarian tension in the Sunni Muslim-led state that hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

"It's not true that they killed them," said a man who identified himself only as Moussa, after praying at the mosque of Sheikh Issa Qassim, as a police helicopter circled overhead. "The government made it up just like a movie."

He was referring to video footage that Bahraini authorities have circulated showing the two policemen smashed by a vehicle that sped through a crowd of protesters, some of whom appeared to then trample and kick the fallen men.

Police kept a tight grip on roads leading to the village where the mosque is located, turning back many vehicles.

The rulings were only the third time in over 30 years that a death sentence had been given to a Bahraini citizen.

They have further divided a country whose Shi'ite majority says it faces systematic discrimination, but whose Sunni leaders warn Shi'ite giant Iran is trying to extend its regional influence by manipulating its co-religionists.

"The sentence was appropriate," said Mohammad al-Ammadi, a Sunni lawmaker, citing what he saw as the extreme brutality of the killings. "This is the first time this happened in Bahrain."

In his sermon,
the cleric Sheikh Issa Qassim alluded to the growing rift in the country.

"If you wish to be assailed with problems, to lose all comfort...then allow the spirit of antagonism(Hostility that results in active resistance, opposition, or contentiousness.) to take hold and spread in your country," he said.

"This is a fire which may seem manageable at first, but is ultimately beyond control...and its consequences are always grave."


SECTARIAN SPLIT MIRRORS SAUDI, IRAN DIVIDE

The recent turmoil began with Shi'ite-led political protests in February demanding greater political liberties, a constitutional monarchy and an end to sectarian discrimination. A few Shi'ite groups called for the abolition of the monarchy.

Bahraini Shi'ites say the ruling family denies them access to state employment and land, and point to the naturalisation of foreigners from predominantly Sunni countries, some of whom join the security forces, as proof of a policy of sectarian rule.

Bahrain, blaming the protests on regional powers including Iran, declared martial law and called in troops from Sunni-led Gulf neighbours to strengthen its forces as they set about crushing demonstrations last month.

In the aftermath of the protests, hundreds of people have been detained, and at least three have died in custody. Human rights groups say hundreds of people have been sacked from public sector jobs and that Bahraini forces have seized patients and health workers from hospitals that were a site of protests.

The latter assertion figured in a rare, mild rebuke of Bahrain from the United States after the court ruling, which included life sentences for three other men.

"Security measures will not resolve the challenges faced by Bahrain," State Department spokeswoman Heide Bronke-Fulton said in an emailed statement.

"We are also extremely troubled by reports of ongoing human rights abuses and violations of medical neutrality in Bahrain. These actions only exacerbate frictions in Bahraini society."

State Department Policy Planning Director Jake Sullivan expressed concern about the legal process. "We are troubled by the speed with which the trial was conducted and the swiftness of the verdict," he told reporters.

"...it's important that legal processes be carried out in a manner that is legitimate, credible and transparent,"
he added.

Germany urged Bahrain on Friday to rescind the death sentences. "This draconian punishment impedes the process of rapprochement and reconciliation in Bahrain," foreign ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke told a news conference.

Bahrain says the court proceedings were fair, that the condemned men may appeal, and that it has taken steps only against public employees who committed crimes during the unrest.

Its prime minister ordered the head of Bahrain's civil service and other senior officials to review procedures for firing state employees, the state news agency said on Saturday.

The men sentenced to death were Ali Abdullah Hassan al-Sankis, Qassim Hassan Matar Ahmad, Saeed Abduljalil Saeed and Isa Abdullah Kadhim Ali. All are 20 or 21 years old.

The island kingdom announced earlier this week that 312 people detained under martial law had been released and about 400 others referred for prosecution.

At least 29 people have been killed since the protests started, all but six of them Shi'ites. The six included two foreigners -- an Indian and a Bangladeshi -- and four policemen.

===

On Saturday, the Shia opposition party al-Wefaq said over 30 holy sites, including 16 mosques, have been razed since the Bahraini government's imposition of martial law last month.

Other reports say over 28 mosques and 50 mourning halls have been destroyed.




===

Earlier on Sunday, Saudi-backed Bahraini forces stormed into an all-girls' school in the north of the country as part of the government's violent crackdown on popular revolution that has engulfed the Persian Gulf state since mid-February.

Eyewitnesses said the Saudi-backed forces took away several teachers during the attack on the secondary school, located in the Hamad Town.




===




'US wants Bahrain oil, military base'
Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:34AM
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The West uses Saudi Arabia to suppress popular protests in Bahrain in order to maintain its control over Manama's oil and continue its military presence in the Persian Gulf, a political analyst says.


“The West has a stake in Bahrain and a vested interest in keeping our oil supplies,” American columnist Allen Roland told Press TV.

He made a reference to the US-led war in Iraq, saying the war that the former US President George W. Bush waged against the country “was always about oil in Iraq.”

Roland also pointed to the Fifth Fleet of the US Navy in Bahrain as Washington's main military base in the Persian Gulf, arguing that the US is concerned that any regime change in Manama may pose a significant threat to its military presence in the region.

Therefore, quashing the recent anti-government protests is vital for the West; however, “since we can't directly get involved, we will have the Saudis do it for us. They are our enforcers,” he added.
Since mid-February, thousands of anti-government protesters have poured into the streets of Bahrain, calling for an end to Al Khalifa dynasty.

On March 13, Saudi-led forces were dispatched to the Persian Gulf Island at Manama's request to quell countrywide protests.

According to local sources, dozens of people have been killed and hundreds arrested so far during the government clampdown on the peaceful demonstrations.



====

Report: 28 mosques razed in Bahrain
Fri Apr 22, 2011 5:36AM

A report says 28 mosques and 50 mourning halls have been razed in Bahrain since Feb.
About 28 mosques and 50 mourning halls have been demolished in Bahrain since the beginning of anti-regime protests in February, a report says.


Activists told Press TV on Friday that the mosques were destroyed during the anti-government protests. Some of the mosques were located in Karzakan, Salmabad, Bu Quwah, and A'ali.

Bahraini people have poured to the streets since February 14 to protest against the Al Khalifa dynasty.

The 'Qur'an Friday' rallies have been planned in the Persian Gulf state on April 22 to condemn the deadly Saudi-backed crackdown on the opposition.

In March, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait deployed their troops in Bahrain to reinforce the brutal armed clampdown against the mass protests.

Scores of protesters have been killed and many others gone missing during the harsh Saudi-backed crackdown in Bahrain.

Head of Bahrain Center for Human Rights Nabeel Rajab said the Manama regime should be held accountable for the ongoing crimes against the protesters.

Despite the Saudi military presence in Bahrain, the government of Bahrain is ultimately responsible for suppressions and persecutions, Rajab said in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday.

The Saudis have committed a lot of crimes, including crimes against humanity, in Bahrain, but the Bahraini government that invited the Saudis to Bahrain is mainly responsible, he added.


======


Iraq raps Saudi-backed Bahrain crimes

Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:7AM


A recent photo showing a demonstration in Iraq against the Bahraini regime crackdown on anti-government protestersIraqi demonstrators have poured to the streets of the capital Baghdad in protest at the Saudi-backed repression of anti-government protesters in Bahrain.


The Baghdad residents rallied in the capital on Saturday and chanted slogans against the foreign invasion of Bahrain and carried placards showing their solidarity with Bahrainis seeking political reforms in the small Persian Gulf monarchy, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The Iraqi demonstrators also denounced the destruction of mosques, desecration of the Holy Qur'an, and the Saudi-led foreign military intervention in Bahrain to quell the protests.

They blasted the Saudi regime, declaring the Saudi Arabia rulers ineligible to rule a country that hosts the Muslims' Qibla.
The recent protests in Bahrain come while pro-government media is trying to show that the anti-government demonstrations have ended and that life has returned to normal.

According to state media, the Bahraini king has ordered compensation be paid to soldiers and security staff wounded in protests, including housing and other benefits for their families.

Dozens of protesters have been killed and scores left injured since the uprising began in Bahrain in mid-February.

The anti-government protesters are demanding an end to the rule of the Al Khalifa dynasty.

Protesters say they will continue their street demonstrations until their demands for freedom, constitutional monarchy as well as a proportional voice in the government are met.

===


Al-Jazeera Beirut bureau chief resignsSat Apr 23, 2011 11:49AM
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Al-Jazeera's Beirut Bureau Chief Ghassan Ben Jeddo Al-Jazeera's Beirut Bureau Chief Ghassan Ben Jeddo has resigned over what he described "biased" coverage of Middle East revolutions by the Qatari-based satellite channel.


The renowned Tunisian-born journalist and television presenter tendered his resignation earlier this month for a number of reasons, most importantly Al-Jazeera's "lack of professionalism and objectivity" in covering the ongoing revolutions in Middle Eastern countries, including Yemen and Bahrain, As-Safir reported Friday. There has been no official confirmation from Al-Jazeera management as to whether Ghassan's resignation has been accepted.

"Ghassan Ben Jeddo believes Al-Jazeera TV news channel no longer pursues an independent and unbiased policies, and quite conversely, is in pursuit of a certain type of policies regarding the brewing uprisings in the region," As-Safir reported.

The Tunisian journalist said the Qatari-based satellite channel has launched a smear campaign against the Syrian government and has turned into "a propaganda outlet," the report added.

The report added that while the station covered the events in Libya, Syria and Yemen, it barely mentioned the bloodshed in Bahrain.

People in Bahrain have been holding anti-government protests since February 14, demanding constitutional reforms as well as an end to the Al Khalifa monarchy.

Demonstrators maintain that they will continue to protest until their demands for freedom, constitutional monarchy, and a proportional voice in the government are met.

The peaceful popular movement in Bahrain has been violently repressed, leaving scores of anti-regime protesters killed and many others missing.

Prior to joining Al-Jazeera in 1997, Ben Jeddo worked for the BBC network, the London-based Al-Hayat daily and in a number of other Arab newspapers.

He is the only journalist to have interviewed the Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, during the Israel-Lebanon conflict. Ben Jeddo has also interviewed Leader of Lebanon's Progressive Socialist Party Walid Jumblat and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.



=====



Demolition of a mosque in a Bahraini village

Senior Bahraini clerics have reportedly released a statement, condemning what the describe as 'the shameless destruction of mosques' in the Persian Gulf country by Saudi and Bahraini forces.


"We will not keep silent on destruction of mosques," said the kingdom's top five clergymen, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The clarics emphasized that the events in Bahrain reflect a dark spot in the country's history and described the demolition of mosques and other acts of sacrilege by Bahraini and Saudi troops as a slap in the face of freedoms of religion and ideology.

The signatories reportedly included prominent Shia cleric sheikh Isa Qassim.

Since mid-February, thousands of anti-government protesters in Bahrain have poured into the streets, calling for an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty's 40-year-plus rule over the country.

On March 13, Saudi-led forces were dispatched to the island at Manama's request to quell the countrywide protests.

According to local sources, dozens of people have been killed and hundreds arrested so far during the government-sanctioned clampdown on peaceful demonstrations.

Saudi and Bahraini forces have destroyed 25 mosques and 18 mourning halls since the start of the revolution.


=====================


US policymakers get huge financial support by Saudi Arabia to remain silent over the Riyadh-assisted crackdown on anti-government protests in Bahrain, says a political observer.

“The Saudi monarchy has been able to win the favors of the Western powers, especially in Washington DC, through different ways of buying influence with the policy makers; through direct cash assistance; and business contracts with American companies with influence over the policy makers, and also buying interest in the media,” said Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for (Persian) Gulf Affairs (IGA) in an interview with Press TV.
The political observer said the monarchy is seeking interests in American news agencies such as “ABC which is owned by Disney, and Fox News which is owned by News Corp.”

“Both [of those agencies] have billions of dollars worth of stock owned by the Saudi ruling family,” he added.

“Basically, what the Saudi monarchy has been able to do is to buy the policymakers in this country -- the majority of them -- ... to keep silent about Saudi Arabia.”

“Even think tanks in Washington DC, most of them, do not address the Saudi issue and refuse to talk about it. If they do, they talk about it very sparingly, and this is to create a general perception that Saudi Arabia is an ally with the West.”

He also mentioned that “former [US] President [Jimmy] Carter is probably the worst example, because he had received over 35 million dollars for his Carter Center in Atlanta which has a human rights center.”

“But Carter has never raised the issue of human rights in Saudi Arabia. In fact, he has refused to do that.”



Human Rights Watch earlier reported that around 160 political dissidents were arrested by authorities in Saudi Arabia after their calls for reform.

In Saudi Arabia, protest rallies and any public display of opposition are forbidden and considered illegal. Senior Wahhabi clerics in the kingdom have also censured opposition demonstrations as "un-Islamic."


=======================

Saudi princes plunder nation's wealthThu Apr 21, 2011 4:34PM
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Prince Al Waleed bin Talal Al SaudExposed documents show that thousands of relatives of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah enjoy the monopoly of the kingdom's financial and commercial resources.


Classified evidence cited former United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia William Wyche Fowler as saying that in the late 1990s Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal Al Saud trusted Washington with secret information on the royal family's financial secrets, wrote German newspaper Die Welt.

The royal exposed the dominance of 7,000 Saudi princes on the country's oil and business enterprises.

Bin Talal, himself among the beneficiaries, is rated as the world's 26th richest person by the US business magazine Forbes.

Together with his wife and children, the 56-year-old lives in a 330-room palace in the capital, Riyadh, with walls made out of Italian alabaster.

The edifice is fitted with tennis courts, five luxurious kitchens, a movie theatre and a parking space holding 200 state-of-the-art luxury cars, namely Rolls-Royces, Ferraris and Lamborghinis, and can accommodate 2,000 guests at the same time.

While a subject of criticism by Saudi clergymen and religious leaders, the royal has written columns in The New York Times about the implementation of reforms in the kingdom, defending the rights of women and disadvantaged people.

Saudi Arabia, the world's number one oil exporter, owns the biggest economy among the Arab nations.

The information comes out amid protests across the kingdom by the jobless, demanding their share of the country's oil-driven economy.

The protests rage despite a ban by the Interior Ministry on all kinds of demonstrations and public gatherings.



=============

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has told the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff that Baghdad is ready to take control of the country's security measures.


In a meeting with Admiral Mike Mullen, who arrived in Baghdad on Thursday, Maliki said the Iraqi army is capable of maintaining its country's security and that “they worked with professionalism.”

The American forces should leave as scheduled
, he said.

Maliki added that Iraqi forces would “continue to strengthen their combat capabilities while providing them with the latest equipment and weapons.”

A 2008 security agreement between Baghdad and Washington mandates the removal of US forces from Iraq before 2012.

About 47,000 American soldiers are currently stationed in the oil-rich Middle Eastern country.

US has long eyed a prolonged stay in Iraq and has expressed doubts about withdrawing all American combat troops from the oil-rich nation by the end-of-the-year deadline.

During his flight to Baghdad, Mullen told reporters that Iraqi leaders would need to start a serious dialogue “in a meaningful way” if they wanted the US forces to stay beyond the deadline.
Any decision to change that was up to Iraq, Reuters quoted him as saying.

Earlier this month, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Washington would keep American soldiers in the country if Baghdad asks for additional help. He said that the US is prepared to extend its military presence in Iraq beyond December 31, 2011.

But Maliki had emphatically rejected the offer then and had told Gates that he expects “all” American troops to leave by the end of the year. He had said: “Our armed forces have now the ability to counter any attack, and the ability is increasing day by day."




============

Bahraini forces rape, kill female poet

Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:23AM

Bahraini poet Ayat al-Ghermezi

A female Bahraini activist who has composed anti-government poems has been killed, after being arrested and raped by Manama forces.


Ayat al-Ghermezi, 20, had recited her poems, in which she slammed the ruling regime and Bahraini Prime Minister Khalifah Ibn Salman al-Khalifah, during protests in Pearl Square in the capital city, Manama, Fardanews reported.

Shortly afterwards, Ghermezi received an influx of insulting and intimidating letters and emails, but when she referred to the police to report the threats, she was insulted and mocked by officers, her family says.

In late March, security forces raided Ghermezi's home twice, threatening her family to reveal Ayat's whereabouts, otherwise they would “destroy the house over your heads, by the order of high-ranking officials.”
After the security forces coerced Gehrmezi's family into disclosing her hideout, the family heard no word from her, Ayat's mother said.

When the family started searching for Ayat, the police told them they have no information about Ayat and tried to force them to confirm through a letter that their daughter had gone missing.

In mid-April, an anonymous call was made to Gehrmezi's family, informing them that Ayat was in coma at an army Hospital.

At the hospital, doctors confirmed that Ayat had gone into coma after being raped for several times.


Eventually, the physicians' efforts failed to save Ayat's life and she died at the army hospital.

So far, several other women, including doctors, university professors and students, have been kidnapped or arrested by Bahraini security forces.

Since mid-February, thousands of anti-government protesters in Bahrain have poured into the streets, calling for an end to Al-Khalifa dynasty, which has ruled the country for almost forty years.

On March 13, Saudi-led forces were dispatched to the Persian Gulf island at Manama's request to quell the countrywide protests.

According to local sources, dozens of people have been killed and hundreds arrested so far during the government clampdown on the peaceful demonstrations.

Rumor?
However, Press TV has received a call from the Bahraini local sources that the news about the death of the poet Ayat al-Ghermezi is a sheer rumor and that it is an attempt by the Bahraini government to discredit media.

==

تعالى
اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وعَجِّلْ فَرَجَهُمْ

Salam un Alaykum,



Current Crisis In The Middle East Year : 2011



Subject : Asr Shanasi, ,
Event : Political Analysis - Global, ,
Category : Seminar, ,
Location : Lahore
Description : Political Analysis on the Current Situation in the Middle East - 15th April 2011

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Millat-e-Tashayyo-e-Pakistan Par Inqilab-e-Islami Ke Asraat Year : 2011


Subject : Asr Shanasi, Inquilab-e-Islami, ,
Event : 2011 Others, ,
Category : Program, ,
Location : Lahore
Description : Speech held on 22nd March 2011 at Imamia Colony

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Basij Az Deedgah-e-Imam Khomieni (ra) Year : 2011


Subject : Hamasa-e-Karbala, ,
Event : 2011 Others, ,
Category : Seminar, ,
Location : Sialkot
Description : Seminar held on 23rd March 2011

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===

'Bahrain police abduct 6 female teachers'
Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:16PM

Teachers join anti-government protesters on February 20, 2011 in Manama, Bahrain.Bahrain police have abducted six female teachers from school in Muharraq following the regime's crackdown on anti-government protesters.


The teachers were kidnapped on Tuesday, witnesses said.

On Monday, Bahraini security forces arrested eight teachers and several pupils in the town of Hamad.

Meanwhile, the Bahraini education ministry formed a committee tasked with taking action against school officials taking part in anti-government protests and strikes.

Reports said some heads of schools, administration staff as well as teachers have already been summoned for questioning.

To express solidarity with the ongoing revolution, thousands of teachers, called by the Bahrain Teachers Society, went on a strike in February and again during in March.

People in Bahrain have been protesting since February 14, demanding an end to the rule of the Al Khalifa dynasty.

Demonstrators maintain that they will hold their ground until their demands for freedom, constitutional monarchy as well as a proportional voice in the government are met.

Bahraini forces with the help of Saudi, the UAE and Kuwaiti troops have cracked down on the anti-regime protesters. Many people have gone missing since the beginning of the revolution.

===


Pak Navy fleet arrives in Bahrain for multinational exercises...


Last Updated On 19 April,2011 About 28 minutes ago
Pak Navy fleet arrives in Bahrain for multinational exercises
Pak Navy fleet arrives in Bahrain for multinational exercises A Pakistan Navy fleet has arrived in Bahrain to take part in multinational exercises.



According to a spokesman of the Pakistan Navy, the exercises, started in Persian Gulf on April 17, would continue until April 28.


Apart from regional states, the Pakistani and American fleets are also participating in the exercises.


Commodore Mukhtar Khan is supervising the task force as mission commander.



====

Bahraini forces demolish two mosques
Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:59AM
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Saudi-backed Bahraini forces have reportedly destroyed two more mosques in line with the country's policy of demolishing Muslim religious sites.


One of the mosques was demolished in Karzakan and the other one in Salmabad on Monday, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Several mosques have been destroyed so far as part of the Saudi-backed crackdown against peaceful protesters.

On Sunday, security forces fired tear gas into several religious sites across the country and two mosques were demolished -- one in Karzakan and another in A'ali.
Earlier this month, a video footage showed a mosque in the northern town of Kawarah destroyed in attacks by Saudi forces.

Earlier on Monday, Bahraini forces reportedly detained eight teachers and several pupils from a girl's secondary school in the town of Hamad.

The new arrests came as Bahraini anti-government protesters are preparing to start the world's largest joint hunger strike to show their anger at the regime's crackdown.

The organizers have called on all Bahrainis around the world to begin a hunger strike from Monday in protest at the regime's brutalities against the opposition.

In March, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait deployed their troops in Bahrain to reinforce the brutal armed clampdown against mass protests.

Scores of protesters have been killed and many others gone missing during the harsh crackdown.



====

Bahrainis to stage largest hunger strike
Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:32AM
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Protesters hold a Bahraini flag and pictures of men held prisoner without trial calling for their release, and the withdrawal of Saudi troops from the country.Bahraini anti-government protesters will begin the world's largest joint hunger strike to show their anger with the regime's crackdown on peaceful demonstrators.


"I am on hunger strike to demand the release of innocent detainees and stop human rights abuse in Bahrain," said Aayat Al Nasheet, along with several youth, on their recently launched website, Xinhua reported late Sunday.

The organizers have called on all Bahrainis around the world to begin a hunger strike from Monday, in protest against the regime's brutalities against the opposition.

The move was inspired by the rights activist -- Zainab al-Khawaja -- who has been on a hunger strike over the past six days in protest against the detention of several of her relatives, including her father and husband.

Due to ill health, she was hospitalized on Sunday.

Her father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is a prominent human rights activist and former president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was arrested on April 9, at 3 a.m. local time.


Masked officers burst into his house and assaulted him and his son-in-law, Mohammed Al-Masqati, according to family members and human rights activists.
Human Rights Watch says more than 400 opposition activists and protesters have been arrested in recent weeks.




=========





======

Thousands rally to support democracy in Bahrain

KARACHI: Thousands of Karachiites on Sunday took out a protest rally against the desecration of holy Quran in America, and to support the ongoing democratic movements and uprising in the Arab world.

The ‘Azmat-e-Quran and Difa-e-Bahrain rally’ was organised by various organisations under the aegis of Millat-e-Jaffaria Pakistan of Majlis-e-Wahdat Muslimeen (MWM), Shia Ulema Council (SUC), Imamia Students Organisation (ISO) and others. It was taken out from Numaish Chowrangi and ended at the Tibet Centre.
The protesters demanded of the United Nations and the international community to immediately take notice of the desecration of holy Quran and blasphemy against holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They expressed their solidarity with the ongoing democratic movement of Bahrain and urged the Pakistan government and Pakistan Army to immediately stop the recruitment of Pakistani people for Bahraini national guards. The rally was addressed by the MWM central deputy secretary general Maulana Amin Shaheedi, Maulana Nazir Abbas Taqvi of SUC, Maulana Sheikh Hassan Salahuddin, JUP leader Maulana Qazi Ahmed Noorani Siddiqui, Mufti Abdul Majeed Ashrafi of Minhaj-ul-Quran, Maulana Baqar Zaidi and others.

Addressing the rally, MWM deputy secretary general Maulana Amin Shaheedi demanded of the government and army to immediately stop the Fauji foundation from recruiting the Pakistani citizens and retired armed forces personnel for Bahraini national guards. He condemned the genocide of peaceful pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain, Yemen and Libya and said that the America and Israel were hatching conspiracies to destroy a peaceful movement in Bahrain. He vowed that the Muslims of the world would not tolerate the desecration of holy Quran and blasphemy against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and demanded of the American government to execute the devilish pastor Terry Jones. staff report





=====
Iran warns Pakistan on mercs in Bahrain
Sat Apr 16, 2011 8:30AM
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The Bahraini army, backed by some regional countries, has been suppressing peaceful Bahraini demonstrators since February 14, 2011.Iran has warned Pakistan that diplomatic relations between the two neighbors would be affected if Islamabad fails to stop recruiting Pakistani military forces helping the Bahraini army crackdowns.


Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Behrouz Kamalvandi has summoned the Pakistani charge d'affairs in Tehran to Iran's Foreign Ministry to convey Iran's serious reservations about Pakistan's recruitment of retired military officials for the Bahraini army to help with the crackdown of Bahraini protesters demanding their democratic rights, Pakistani media reported.

The Iranian official warned that if the recruitment continues, it will have serious ramifications for diplomatic relations between Islamabad and Tehran.

However, the decision-makers in Islamabad have ignored the Iranian warning as the recruitment persists.

A foundation affiliated to the Pakistani army is recruiting retired military personnel from the Pakistan Army, Navy and the Air Force who will be deployed in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain at exorbitant salaries.

According to sources in the foundation, almost 90 percent of the recruited officials are being sent to crisis-hit Bahrain.

Over 1,000 Pakistanis have so far been recruited in March 2011 alone, while 1,500 more would be hired in the next few weeks, reports say.


People in Bahrain have been holding anti-government protests since February 14, demanding constitutional reforms as well as an end to the al-Khalifa monarchy.

Demonstrators maintain that they will continue the protests, until their demands for freedom, constitutional monarchy, and a proportional voice in the government are met.

The peaceful popular movement in Bahrain has been violently repressed since mid-February, leaving scores of protesters killed and many others missing.


===

2 more mosques destroyed in BahrainSun Apr 17, 2011 10:17PM
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Bahraini protesters flee as security forces fire tear gas (file photo).The Saudi-backed Bahraini government forces have intensified their crackdown on anti-regime protesters and have also demolished two mosques.


Bahraini security forces attacked the crowds in the towns of Sanabis and Daih on Sunday. Gunfire was heard and several people were abducted by the pro-government forces.

Despite a martial law in effect since mid-March, and the arrests of hundreds of opposition figures and political activists to further stifle the opposition, demonstrations continue in Manama and other cities.

Scores of people have been killed and many others gone missing during the crackdown.

Meanwhile, the security forces fired tear gas into several religious sites across the country and two mosques were demolished -- one in Karzakan and another in A'ali.

Mosques razed in Bahrain's Bu Quwah
Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:6PM
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Demolishing Imam Jawad mosque in NuwaidratAmid growing clampdown on Bahrain's anti-government protesters, police have reportedly destroyed mosques in northern city of Bu Quwah.


Police also arrested people in the city on Tuesday, witnesses said.

Also on Tuesday, tanks, armored vehicles and thugs attacked the western town of Eker.

Earlier on Monday, Saudi-backed Bahraini forces demolished two more mosques. One of the mosques was located in Karzakan and the other in Salmabad.

Several mosques have been destroyed so far as part of the Saudi-backed crackdown against peaceful protesters.

In March, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait deployed their troops in Bahrain to reinforce the brutal armed clampdown against mass protests.

Meanwhile, Saudi King Abdullah on Tuesday vowed full Manama support for what he called Bahrain's security and stability.

"The security of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia is indivisible - being two bodies with one soul," the Saudi monarch said.

He rejected any foreign interference in Bahrain's internal affairs and expressed unwavering support for the Persian Gulf state's independence and sovereignty, saying that the security of the two countries are intertwined.

Scores of protesters have been killed and many others gone missing during the harsh Saudi-backed crackdown in Bahrain.



Several mosques have been destroyed so far as part of the Saudi-backed crackdown.

Earlier this month, a video footage showed a mosque in the northern town of Kawarah destroyed in attacks by Saudi forces.

In a series of pictures depicting the brutal crackdown of anti-regime protests, the video also showed burned pages of the Holy Qur'an buried under masses of debris.

Anti-Saudi sentiment is rising in Bahrain, where people are calling for an end to more than two centuries of Al Khalifa royal family's rule in the Persian Gulf state.
==
Top cleric censures Bahrain oppression

Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:52AM
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Bahraini pro-democracy protesters are seen at the Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain, on February 21, 2011.Senior Iranian cleric

Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayegani has deplored brutal acts by the Bahraini government against the country's people, urging respect for Bahrainis' legitimate rights.


“God willing, the Bahraini people will achieve victory in their popular movement and will obtain their real rights,” ISNA quoted Ayatollah Golpayegani as speaking in a meeting with Bahraini clerics on Sunday.

He pointed to the Islamic awakening in all Muslim countries and warned arrogant powers that they would collapse “in disgrace.”

The top cleric said the Bahraini people are demanding their legal and legitimate rights, adding, “But instead of an appropriate respond, the Bahraini government is massacring the people.”

Ayatollah Golpayegani called on independent international and Muslim circles and the Organization of the Islamic Conference in particular to condemn crimes in the Persian Gulf country and urged the Bahraini government to “give a positive response to the legitimate rights of the Bahraini people and rescue the oppressed nation.”

Inspired by revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, Bahraini pro-democracy demonstrators are calling for an end to the decades-long monarchy in the country.

The Bahraini government's crackdown on protesters has left six people dead and hundreds, including women and children, injured.

The ongoing protests have prompted Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah to appoint the Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifah to talk to the protesters.

Bahrain's pro-democracy protesters continue to occupy Pearl Square in the capital Manama, saying they will be there until their demands are met.


======
Kuwaitis defy orders to invade Bahrain

Sat Apr 16, 2011 3:47PM
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A Kuwaiti naval vessel
A number of Kuwaiti naval officers have disobeyed orders to reinforce the violent Saudi-backed crackdown on the popular revolution in Bahrain.


The servicemen cited a fatwa (religious decree) issued by a religious authority, which has condemned enlistment with the Island Shield security forces, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Anbaa wrote on Thursday, citing sources within the military.

The Island Shield was established as the security front for the members of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar.

The council is mandated to defend the member states against “external threats.” Led by Riyadh, however, the Kuwait City and Abu Dhabi invaded Bahrain in mid-March to assist Manama's armed attacks on the protests, which have been ongoing since February 14.

Scores of protesters have been killed and many others gone missing during the crackdown -- intensified with the arrival of the foreign troops.

The Kuwaiti newspaper added, “One officer has said he would not go there and the government can do whatever it wants.”

The officers are to be investigated and are expected to face severe punishments, namely ejection from the military, should they insist on their refusal.

The Bahraini waters host a Kuwait naval unit reportedly deployed there on Saudi orders to make it look like that Riyadh is not the only party invading Bahrain. =====


اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وعَجِّلْ فَرَجَهُمْ


In the past PAK Military has brutally crushed genuine voice of Shias in Afghanistan, they were being sent under disguise of Talibans for mass murdering, genocide of shias specially in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.
Islamabad must learn , what they done to AFG, has indirectly inflamed its own Capital and the same Talibans are now attacking even HEAD QUARTERS OF PAK ARMED FORCES.

I am sure, even if they will crush Bahrani resitance by brutal use of US bought fire power and Warefare, one day ISLAMabad will be engulfed more severely and their palaces built by killing brotherly Muslims will either attacked by their own military or new kind of Resistance Fighters will sooon take over ISLAMabad.

Infct I see no difference b/w Israeli Forces and Saudi lead Ivading Army, whose major part is going to be PAK Army Recruits. Shame on this army who can't bring peace in its own biggest metropolis KHI, but they are hired to crush genuine democratic resistance.




We apologize! Bibi ZAINAB (s.a), We can't follow your Sunnah BUT we can cry on you like Kufees.


We don't feel pains when oppressed people are being tortured.
We stop others not to participate in any kind of protest to play their role.
But,
We cry loudly like kufi by hearing that Bibi Zainab (s.a) exposed the tyrants in palace of yazid and on street of sham.
But,
We said Bibi Zainab (s.a) we can not follow your foot steps.
Because,
We are facing a kind of fear (very less) as kufees felt, fear of loosing worldly comforts we got by giving your references to Allah.
But,

We can do one thing….Cursing your followers by saying ‘Shia Wahabi’.
Discouraging people to stay calm and quite and don't disturb my life.
Sorry Bibi we can cry on you like Kufees but we can not follow your Sunnah,
Yes,
We can cursed easily those try to follow your foot steps.
Yes,
We will take an action when all oppressed will be died and their houses are burnt...
That time we will cry on them.....


We don't want to learn anything from MUKHTAR...



ہمیں خبر ہے کہ ہم ہیں چراغ آخر شب
ہمارے بعد اندھیرا نہیں اجالا ہے

لبیک یا حسین ﴿ٕع﴾ یعنی ؟؟؟؟؟

2:03

Sayyed Hassan Nasarullah explains the meaning of LABBAYK YA HUSSAIN - Arabic sub Urdu
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2:38

Sayyed Hassan Nasarullah explains the meaning of LABBAYK YA HUSSAIN - Arabic sub English
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By: Defence



8:45



+ To My Playlist

LABBAIK YA HUSSAIN - Arabic Persian Urdu


THE MEANING OF LABAIK YA HUSSAIN



================================================



عظمت قرآن

و

دفاع بحرین

ریلی



قرآن کی بے حرمتی

بحرین میں سعودی مظالم کے

خلاف اور

یمن، فلسطین، سعودی عرب، مصر میں

چلنے والی عوامی تحریکوں سے

اظہار یکجہتی کے لیے



سترہ ١۷ اپریل

بروز اتوار

تین۳ بجے دن

نمایش تا تبت سینٹر



ملت جعفریہ پاکستان

تعاون

مجلس وحدت مسلمین

شیعہ علماء کونسل

امامیہ اسٹوڈنٹس آرگنایزیشن پاکستان

ہیت آیمہ مساجد امامیہ، علماء امامیہ

حوذات علمیہ امامیہ کراچی







================================================



www.shiitenews.com

Saudis protest Bahrain invasion, arrests

http://www.shiitenews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2819:saudis-protest-bahrain-invasion-arrests-&catid=60:saudi-arab&Itemid=71

Bahrain to dissolve Shia opposition parties
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A Shia Muslim Woman Injured in a Racial Attack in London + PIC



http://www.shiitenews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2821:a-shia-muslim-woman-injured-in-a-racial-attack-in-london--pic-&catid=65:rest-of-world&Itemid=70



Urgent; Bahraini Forces Siege Sitra Medical Center / Occupiers Razed a Mosque
http://www.shiitenews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2822:urgent-bahraini-forces-siege-sitra-medical-center--occupiers-razed-a-mosque-&catid=66:middle-east&Itemid=69


مدینہ حَمَد میں مسجد فدک الزہراء سلام اللہ علیہا کا انہدام شروع
http://www.urdu.shiitenews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3173:2011-04-15-08-45-24&catid=53:2010-03-11-05-21-13&Itemid=71

تصویر - بحرین / لحظہ شہادت تک آل خلیفہ کے تشدد کا شکار ہونے والے شہید فخراوي کا تشدد زدہ جسم
http://www.urdu.shiitenews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3174:2011-04-15-09-15-00&catid=49:2010-03-11-05-13-12&Itemid=69

آزادی کے دعویدار مغرب میں تضادات کانیا واقعہ
http://www.urdu.shiitenews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3175:2011-04-15-09-21-11&catid=52:2010-03-11-05-20-26&Itemid=74

بحرین میں آل خلیفہ کی ڈوبتی کشتی اور حکومت پاکستان کا کردار
http://www.urdu.shiitenews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3176:2011-04-15-09-49-44&catid=50:2010-03-11-05-13-44&Itemid=37

بحرین :ملک کی سب سے بڑی شیعہ سیاسی جماعت پر پابندی کی تیاری
http://www.urdu.shiitenews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3177:2011-04-15-10-17-13&catid=49:2010-03-11-05-13-12&Itemid=69

عوامی بیداری، امریکی اہداف کی راہ میں سب سےبڑی رکاوٹ
http://www.urdu.shiitenews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3178:2011-04-15-10-48-35&catid=46:2010-03-11-05-12-39&Itemid=27

صہیونی ـ سعودی ـ آل خلیفی خفیہ سیکورٹی اجلاس / لنکس
http://www.urdu.shiitenews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3179:2011-04-15-11-05-37&catid=49:2010-03-11-05-13-12&Itemid=69


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Zionists & Aale Saud's+ Aale Kahlifa Relations=Misle-یہود:FWD


http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=6&id=٢٣٦٦٤٥

صہیونی ـ سعودی ـ آل خلیفی خفیہ سیکورٹی اجلاس / لنکس


ذرائع نے انکشاف کیا ہے کہ آل سعود ـ آل صہیون ـ آل خلیفہ کی سہ طرفہ خفیہ سیکورٹی میٹنگ منامہ میں منعقد ہوئی ہے اور آل صہیون نے عوامی انقلاب کے بارے میں جاسوسی سیارچوں سے حاصل ہونے والی اطلاعات آل سعود اور آل خلیفہ کی فورسز کو فراہم کرنے کا وعدہ کیا ہے۔







اہل البیت (ع) نیوز ایجنسی کے مطابق الحرمین ویب سائٹ سمیت متعدد معتبر ذرائع نے انکشاف کیا ہے کہ آل سعود ـ آل صہیون اور آل خلیفہ کا ایک خفیہ سیکورٹی اجلاس منامہ میں منعقد ہوا ہے جس میں بحرین کے عوامی مظاہروں کی سرکوبی اور نہتے عوام کو فوجی طاقت سے کچلنے کی روشین زیر بحث آئیں اور اسرائیل نے وعدہ کیا کہ وہ اپنے خلائی وسائل سے حاصل ہونے والی تصویریں اور انٹیلی جنس معلومات آل سعود اور آل خلیفہ کے گماشتوں کے حوالے کرے گا تا کہ وہ بحرین کے عوامی انقلاب کو کچل سکیں۔
واضح رہے کہ مقبوضہ بحرین میں رونما ہونے والے تمام تر واقعات و حوادث بڑی حد تک مقبوضہ فلسطین میں رونما والے واقعات سے مماثلت رکھتے ہیں جن میں مساجد اور دینی مقامات کا انہدام، خواتین کا قتل یا گرفتاریاں، اسپتالوں کی ناکہ بندی، ایمبولینسوں کو اسپتالوں میں پہنچنے سے روکنا، بچوں، خواتین اور بوڑھوں کو مقدمہ چلائے بغیر پابند سلاسل رکھنا، عوام کے ساتھ بیگانوں جیسا سلوک اور ان کو دشمن سمجھنا وغیرہ شامل ہیں۔
سوال یہ ہے کہ دنیائے اسلام مین آل سعود نے مشہور کررکھا ہے کہ اس نے گویا اپنے جلاد بحرین میں اہل سنت کے دفاع کے لئے بھیجے ہوئے ہیں اور دنیائے اسلام میں بھی کئی لوگوں نے ہمیشہ کی طرح دھوکہ کہا کر آل سعود کو عالم اسلام کا حامی و رہبر قرار دیا ہے لیکن سوال یہ ہے کہ یہ کونسا اسلام ہے جس کے تحفظ کے لئے آل سعود کو صہیونی حمایت بھی حاصل ہے اور مغربی دنیا بھی اس کے شانہ بشانہ کھڑی ہوئی ہے؟ یہ بات تو روز روشن کی طرح عیاں ہے کہ اسرائیل اسلام کا دشمن نمبر ایک ہے اور امریکہ اور یورپ بھی اسرائیل کے حامی ہیں اور یہ جب بھی اکٹھے ہوتے ہیں تو ان کا نشانہ اسلام ہوتا ہے تو پھر کیا آل سعود اور آل خلیفہ سے ان کا اتحاد کس کے فائدے میں اور کس کے خلاف ہے؟ آل سعود اور آل خلیفہ اس وقت بحرینی عوام کے خلاف لڑتے ہوئے صہیونی اور امریکی و یورپی حمایت کے مزے لے رہے ہیں اور کوئی بھی ـ حتی اگر وہ آل سعود یا آل خلیفہ کا قریبی دوست بھی ہو ـ اس حقیقت کا انکار نہیں کرسکتا کہ جس مثلث کا ایک کونا اسرائیل ہو اس کا ہدف اسلام ہی ہوتا ہے اب سوال یہ ہے کہ اسلام کس جانب ہی اور دشمن اسلام کون ہے؟
اردو صارفین و قارئین کا ایک سوال بھی یہاں پیش کرنا بے جا نہ ہوگا کہ اس صہیونی ـ سعودی ـ خلیفی مثلث میں حکومت پاکستان کا کیا مقام ہے اور یہ حکومت کیوں اپنے اندرونی مسائل حل کرنے کی بجائے جمہوریت کے نعرے لگاتے ہوئے مطلق العنان شہنشاہیتوں کو بچانے کے لئے فوجی بریگیڈ روانہ کررہی ہے اور فوجی فاؤنڈیشن جیسے فوجی اداروں کے ذریعے ہزاروں وہابی بھرتی کرکے بحرین بھجوا رہی ہے؟؟؟
یاد رہے کہ آل سعود کو شمالی یمن پر جارحیت کے وقت بھی صہیونی جاسوسی نظام کی مکمل حمایت حاصل تھی اور اب بھی جنوبی یمن میں صہیونیوں کی حمایت سے بہرہ مند ہے۔
۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔
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- بحرین میں آل خلیفہ ـ آل سعود کی درندگی بمقابلہ فلسطین میں صہیونی درندگی
- القرضاوی کی متضاد آراء: عوامی مظاہروں کے خلاف فتوے دینےوالے منافق ہيں ، شیخ قرضاوی
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آل خلیفہ ـ آل سعود اسرائیلی طرز سے عوام کو کچل رہے ہیں - اہم رپورٹ



http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&Id=236050


Israel wants Zionist-friendly democracy in the Arab world


There are growing signs that Israel is quite apprehensive about the revolutionary reforms taking place in the Arab world. Israeli officials and commentators are anxious about the prospects of these revolutions “turning Islamic.” Political Islam has long become Israel's number-1 enemy, especially after the appearance of the Palestinian Islamic liberation group, Hamas, which refuses to recognize the legitimacy of Zionism. Hamas argues rather convincingly that Israel is a racist entity based on military might, ethnic cleansing and land theft and therefore has no moral legitimacy.

Khalid Amayreh







(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Israel has done very little to influence revolutions in both Tunis and Egypt. Israeli leaders and intelligence services, however, are reportedly to have alerted their counterparts in the West, particularly in the United States, that a prominent Islamist element was “at work” in these revolutions. For example, the Israeli media highlighted the “Victory Friday” on 18 February when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, lead by prominent scholar Yosef al Qaradawi, gathered for congregational prayers at Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square to mark the overthrow of long-time tyrant Hosni Mubarak a week earlier. One Israeli commentator remarked that “it is such huge rallies that Israel should fear most. This is the new Middle East, it is Islamist, and certainly anti-Israel.”
We all know, of course, that the introduction of true democracy in the Arab world is the last thing in the world Israel really cares about. Israel knows quite well that its various interests in the Arab region can best be guaranteed by repressive tyrants such as Hosni Mubarak and Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali and that these interests would suffer immensely if not irreparably if democratically-elected leaders were to rule in Arab capitals.
Well, this is true to a very large extent. In the final analysis, it is hard to imagine that Arab and Muslim masses would harbor any consideration for a hopelessly criminal entity that has been slaughtering and is slaughtering fellow Muslims in Palestine and Lebanon for decades and is now trying rather vigorously to demolish the Aqsa Mosque, the Third holiest shrine in Islam.
I remember that when Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister in 1996, several months after the assassination of Isaac Rabin, he began prattling and babbling about the lack of democracy in the Arab region. His ranting in this regard was meant first and foremost as a pretext, or a red herring, to justify Israel's refusal to give up occupied Arab land. Soon, however, he was instructed by the Mossad intelligence service to “shut up” because “you don't know what you are talking about.”
The Mossad told him that “the survival and prosperity of tyrannical regimes in the Arab region was a supreme strategic Israeli interest and that true democracy in the Arab world constituted a nearly mortal threat to the state of Israel.”
But what Israel had always been dreading is already at its doorsteps. This is why Israeli leaders and propagandists no longer say openly they don't want to see democracy take place in the Arab world. Instead, they say openly they don't want to see Islam being incorporated into Arab democracy since Islam doesn't recognize Zionism and won't accommodate Zionist whims in the region.
Never mind that the current Israeli government itself includes Talmudic political parties with clear-cut fascist and even Nazi-like trends, as is evident in the adoption by the government of a new set of racist laws, asserting the “Jewish” nature of Israel, which means more racism and more discrimination against non-Jews. However, when Muslims insist on giving due respect to the tenets of their faith, then Zionism turns on their alarm sirens, warning the world against Islamic democracy.
Still, Zionism would like to see a deformed, soulless, and hedonistic “democracy” takes place in the Arab world, a democracy best characterized by the rampancy of western lifestyles such as promiscuity, sexual permissiveness, pornography, teen-age pregnancy and lack of spirituality. In a nutshell, Israel would like to see week Arab societies falling in the throes of lust, eviscerated of Islam, and indifferent to Israeli Nazism and whatever it does to Palestine and its people.
The manifestly fascist wing of Zionism, which is represented by the current Likud-led government, is worried that a stronger Arab world would complicate the Zionist goal of achieving the final liquidation of the Palestinian cause.
Hence, they are trying to de-legitimize as much as possible the ongoing revolutionary reforms in countries such as Egypt. Israel is unlikely to succeed to replicate the isolation of the elected Hamas government in the Gaza Strip with elected governments in Egypt. Egypt, after all, is not Gaza.
However, it is highly expected that Israel and Zionist circles in the U.S., especially those under whose tight control the American Congress reels, will start inciting against any new Egyptian regime with strong Islamic component. This incitement might culminate in the Congress deciding to sever all economic and military aid to Egypt.
This is why the new elected rulers in Egypt, whoever they may be, must seek effective ways and means to neutralize Zionist blackmail and interference in Egyptian internal affairs which we all know are aimed at keeping 80 million Egyptians in a state of enslavement and subservience to Israel.
In any case, the American aid to Egypt is too modest to warrant sacrificing Egyptian sovereignty and national dignity.
Israel simply wants to swallow all of Palestine, hook, line, and sinker, and not be disturbed by any outside force, Arab or otherwise. This is the real reason Zionist leaders are prattling about the recent changes in the Arab world.

آل سعود نے حرمین الشریفین کے اسلامی وقار کو مجروح کیا ہے


آل سعود نے امریکہ اور اسرائیل کے ساتھ ساز باز کرکے حرمین الشریفین کی عزت و عظمت اور مکہ مکرمہ اور مدینہ منورہ کے وقار کو مجروح کیا ہے نبی کریم (ص) کو وسیلہ نہ بنانے والے اپنا اقتدار بچانے کے لئے امریکہ اور اسرائیل کو وسیلہ بنا رہےہیں آل سعود نے اسلام اور مسلمانوں کا ساتھ دینے کے بجائے ہمیشہ سامراجی طاقتوں کا ساتھ دیا ان کی خیانت کی وجہ سے فلسطین کا مسئلہ آج تک حل نہیں ہوسکا اور مظلوم فلسطینی آج بھی اسرائیل اور امریکہ کے ظلم و ستم کا شکار ہیں ۔







ابنا: آل سعود نے امریکہ اور اسرائیل کے ساتھ ساز باز کرکے حرمین الشریفین کی عزت و عظمت اور مکہ مکرمہ اور مدینہ منورہ کے اسلامی وقار کو مجروح کیا ہے نبی کریم (ص) کو وسیلہ نہ بنانے والے اپنا اقتدار بچانے کے لئے امریکہ اور اسرائیل کو وسیلہ بنا رہے ہیں عرب ممالک میں اٹھنے والی عوامی لہر امریکہ اور اسرائیل نواز ان عرب رہنماؤں کے خلاف ہے جنھوں نے سرزمین حجاز میں اسلام کی بالا دستی کے بجائے امریکہ اور اسرائیل کی بالا دستی قائم کرنے کے لئے اپنا تمام سرمایہ صرف کیا آج آل سعود تیونس، مصر ،لیبیا اور یمن میں اپنے ساتھیوں کے یکے بعد دیگر ے زوال کو دیکھ کر اللہ تعالی کے بجائے اپنے امریکی آقاؤں سے مدد مانگ رہے ہیں اور سعودی حکومت کی امریکہ سے مدد مانگنےسے وہابی منحرف گروہ کے نظریہ کی قلعی بھی کھل گئی ہے کیونکہ وہابیوں کے علماء کو آل سعود خاندان کی حمایت اور سرپرستی حاصل ہے چنانچہ اگر دقت کے ساتھ مشاہدہ کیا جائے تو سعودی بادشاہت کا دوام امریکی حمایت پر استوار ہے اور مکہ و مدینہ کے پیشنمازوں کا تقرر آل سعود کی مرضی و منشاء کے مطابق ہوتا ہےجس میں امریکی مرضی و منشاء بھی شامل ہوتی ہے اور یہی وجہ ہے کہ مکہ کے امام نے آج تک امریکہ اور اسرائیل کے خلاف کبھی کوئی بیان نہیں دیا۔آل سعود نے اسلام اور مسلمانوں کا ساتھ دینے کے بجائے ہمیشہ سامراجی طاقتوں کا ساتھ دیا اورانھوں نے سعودی عرب میں خداداد وسائل کو امریکہ اور اسرائیل کے حوالے کررکھا ہے سعودی عرب اور بعض دیگر عرب ممالک کی آشکارا خیانت کی وجہ سے فلسطین کا مسئلہ آج تک حل نہیں ہوسکا اور مظلوم فلسطینی آج بھی اسرائیل اور امریکہ کے ظلم و ستم کا شکار ہیں ، آل سعود امریکہ اور اسرائیل کو بڑے پیمانے پر مالی مدد فراہم کررہے ہیں اور امریکہ کو اقتصادی بحران سے نجات دلانے کے لئے سعودی حکومت آج بھی سرگرم عمل ہے آل سعود کی حمایت کرنے والے درحقیقت وہی لوگ ہیں جو امریکہ اور اسرائیل کے حامی اور طرفدار ہیں۔
۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔




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A friend's scream on brutal and horrible torchers and killings of Bahraini brothers, sister and hospital staffs and our SAKOOT like kofees.


The timing of Mukhtar Namey, an Iranian produced serial, depicting the life of Mukhthar Thaqafi, could not be more right. It seems, the life of the Shi'as today and the political and intellectual atmospheres resembles quite strikingly to that of what was before and after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A). History repeats itself, and unfortunately, the Shi'as of today have changed little - had we paid heed to history, we could have diverted this humiliation. It is quite easy to feel passionate, regretful, vengeful and to lament at the tragedies of the past, but its quite difficult to prevent it from happening in the present and in the future. Today our women lament and recite egulgies for Zaynab because how she was paraded in the markets and courtyars (A), yet they shamlessly parade themselves in the schools, universitys, and imambargah without modesty. They give praise to her eloquence, firm faith, excellent orotation, and her courage, yet in them none of these qualities are found. They are busy in talking gossip, make-up and vain things, and show no sign of Zaynab in them. And the men have busied themselves in self-boasting and competitions and mindless rituals. They claim to love Imam Hussain so much, they say they are willing to cut themselves into pieces. I say, first wake up for fajr salaat, and let the cold water in the morning not bother you and then we will talk about cut yourself. Some of them cry so much that their handkerchiefs gets drowned in tears, yet they don't have time to wipe the tears of the oppressed. Imam Hussain (A) doesn't want your tears, nor does Zaynab wants your condolences (pursa, taslehat), they don't need it. Just like God doesn't need your prayers or fast.

When someone gives advice, they accuse him of being extremist or a Wahhabi. What is a Wahhabi or extremist to them? Someone who wants to brings a change to a society, and get rid of evils and oppression? Thats not a Wahhabi or extremist, that's Ammar, Salmaan, abu dhar, Malik and Mukhtar.

Change is not possible without conflict, its always been the case. I am referring to real change, where society takes a 180 turn to the good side, and not fake change or Obama change.
Remember, time is come nearer and nearer to the Zahoor, to Qiyama and to death. This is once, and forever only once chance for success. You can't have a second chance to make things better. You can't face Imam Hussain on the day of Judgement, tell Him (A) to send me back, and this time, instead of beating myself, I will beat the enemies of Islam. Instead of running on hot coals and fire, I will run on top of oppressors and injustice. Its once only chance.
Inshallah, May he Give us Tawfeeq.
Salaam
your brother



61:52



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Mukhtar Namay - The Mokhtars Narrative - Historical Drama Serial Epi2 on H Ameer Mukhtare Saqafi - Farsi Sub English


51:35



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[P-20] Mukhtar Namay - The Mokhtars Narrative - Historical Drama Serial on H Ameer Mukhtare Saqafi - Farsi Sub English


53:38



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[P-25] Mukhtar Namay - The Mokhtars Narrative - Historical Drama Serial on Ameer Mukhtare Saqafi - Farsi Sub



1:09


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Who is more Brutal, Saudi or Israeli Troops? - 14Apr2011 - English










Please see at three different links below

Very Urgent; Photos of brutally tortured Martyr “Saeed Abul-Karim Fakhrawi”
http://abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=236389

Tragic photos: Bahraini Forces Brutally Beat to Death Martyr Ali Saqar
http://abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&Id=235929

Tragic photos: Bahraini Forces Brutally Beat to Death, Martyr Zakariya Rashid al Ashiri / New
http://abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=236071








Waliy-e-Amril Muslimeen, Waliy-e-Faqih,
Deputy of Imam-e-Zamana( a.s), Alamdar-e-Asr- e-Zahoor,
Leader of muslims of the world Ayatullah Syed Ali Khamenei


Please forward it to others....

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Crown prince: "No leniency" on threats to Bahrain

08 Apr 2011 07:20

Source: reuters // Reuters


Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain, speaks during special session addressing peace in Middle East at Clinton Global Initiative in New York 21/09/2010 REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

* Crown prince says reform efforts to continue

* HRW to Bahrain: stop arbitrary detentions, detainee abuse



DUBAI, April 8 (Reuters) - Bahrain's crown prince said he was committed to reform but warned there would be "no leniency" for those who tried to divide the kingdom, where weeks of protests were quashed by a fierce security crackdown.

Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, seen as a moderate reformer in the royal family, said on Bahraini television Thursday night the Gulf island kingdom was committed to reform but said the unrest following weeks of demonstrations had escalated to the point that security forces had to step in.

"In this significant moment in the development of our country, I will continue ... to be firm on the principle that there can be no leniency with anyone who seeks to split our society into two halves," he said.

In March, Bahrain's Sunni rulers announced martial law, deployed security forces and called in troops from neighbouring Sunni-led Gulf Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, to break up pro-democracy protests led mostly by Shi'ites. The move stunned the majority Shi'ite population and angered non-Arab Shi'ite power Iran, just across Gulf waters.

Since the crackdown, members of leading Shi'ite opposition group Wefaq and many Shi'ite residents have complained of dozens of disappearances at checkpoints which have been set up around capital Manama and are manned by forces in balaclava face masks.

They say hundreds of people, including politicians, activists and doctors sympathetic to protests, were arrested and several hundred workers, mostly Shi'ites, have been sacked.

Analysts and political sources say Sheikh Salman lost a battle with hardliners in his own family to try to take time to launch talks with the opposition instead of using military force, and that hardliners from both the ruling family and the opposition have now drowned out more moderate voices.

In his Thursday speech, the crown prince said he was still committed to reform.

"I will not spare any effort to in participating ... to the progress of this reform."

Shi'ites, who make up at least 60 percent of the population, have long complained of discrimination when competing for jobs and services. They are demanding better representation and a constitutional monarchy, but radicals calling for an overthrow of the monarchy alarmed the Sunni minority.

On Friday, Human Rights Watch denounced what it called arbitrary detentions and said freed detainees interviewed reported incidents of beatings and abuse. The U.S.-based rights group called on the government to report and give a reason for all detentions.

"Emergency Law does not provide authorities a free hand to trample basic human rights," said Joe Stork, the deputy Middle East director of Human Rights Watch.

"Bahrain has created a state of fear, not a state of safety." (Editing by Matthew Jones)



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Bahrain human rights activist "arrested, beaten up"09 Apr 2011 20:08

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Prominent Bahrain rights defender "arrested, beaten up"

* Bahrain targeting medical staff, says rights group

* Police attack Shi'ite doctors - group (Adds deaths in police custody, workers fired)

By Frederik Richter

MANAMA, April 9 (Reuters) - Bahrain has arrested and beaten a prominent human rights activist and members of his family, a rights group said on Saturday, after the kingdom launched a sweeping crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Bahrain saw the worst sectarian clashes since the 1990s last month after protesters, emboldened by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, took to the streets, prompting the government to impose martial law and invite in troops from Sunni-ruled neighbours.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja was arrested with two sons-in-law, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said in a statement.

"They broke the front door to the house and then beat them severely" along with another man, the group said.

"Khawaja was beaten so severely that the blood stain is still visible on the staircase. And when his oldest daughter, Zainab, tried to intervene she was beaten as well."

Khawaja lived in exile for 12 years before he was allowed to return under a general amnesty announced in 1999. He was imprisoned for political dissent in 2004 and later pardoned by the king.

Bahrain's government has launched a crackdown against opposition activists, media and Shi'ite villages after it quelled weeks of pro-democracy protests.

A small group of youths gathered in a suburb of the capital, Manama, and were swiftly dispersed by police tear gas, witnesses said. Army units reinforced police checkpoints at Shi'ite villages near Manama, preventing protests, the witnesses said.

Mattar Mattar, a member of the largest Shi'ite opposition group, Wefaq, said in total 420 people had been detained, among them 20 women and 10 doctors. About 750 people had been dismissed from their jobs.

Workers at Bahrain Petroleum (Bapco) said on Saturday the company has also started to lay off Shiite workers who were absent during a strike called for by unions last month, following lay-offs at other state-owned companies.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a U.S.-based group that campaigns for medical staff working in crisis zones, said police forces still tightly controlled the country's largest public hospital and continued to harass patients and staff.

"It's absolutely shocking what is taking place. We've heard corroborating testimonies from numerous patients, hospital staff, nurses, physicians ... on serious violations of medical neutrality," the group's Deputy Director Richard Sollom told Reuters during a fact-finding mission in Bahrain.

Security forces occupied the Salmaniya Medical Complex on March 16, the day they cleared a square in Manama of pro-democracy protesters.


DOCTORS BEATEN, GROUP SAYS

Sollom said during the crackdown, police and soldiers entered operating theatres and a number of doctors at the hospital had disappeared. He said three Shi'ite doctors were beaten by security forces at the hospital's staff hostel this week, according to witness testimonies.

"This is such horrific abuse against physicians who are ethically required to be serving their patients," he said.

Police had beaten patients on March 17 on the sixth floor of the hospital, to where police had directed protesters injured during the crackdown, he said. "This amounts to torture under the definition of the United Nations,"
Sollom added.

Bahrain's government denies there is torture but says all such accusations will be investigated.

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has said hospitals in Bahrain had become places to be feared where wounds can identify people for arrest. Bahrain rejected those allegations as part of an "orchestrated campaign by the protest movement".

Government officials have said Bahrain's health system is operating normally and the Salmaniya hospital had been overrun with political activities directed against the government.

The clashes in Bahrain have killed at least 13 protesters and four police and PHR said security forces had used excessive force against protesters such as the use of live ammunition.

The Ministry of Interior said two detainees died at detention centres on Saturday. It said in a statement a man charged with attempting to kill a police officer on March 13 "created chaos" at the centre and died after police tried to bring the situation under control.

A second man charged with promoting sectarianism died due to complications of sickle cell anaemia, it said, the second sickle cell patient to die in police custody within a week.

PHR said the first patient had died last Sunday because he did not have appropriate access to medical care while in police custody. (Editing by Nick Macfie and Sophie Hares)






==

Gulf Arabs slam Iran meddling, urge Yemen dialogue
04 Apr 2011 04:02

Source: reuters // Reuters


(repeats to additional clients)

* Gulf Arabs condemn Iran "interference" over Bahrain

* Condemns Iran after Kuwait says breaks up spy cell

* Initial step to encourage Yemen dialogue

(Adds quotes, comments on Yemen)

By Reem Shamseddine and Jason Benham

RIYADH, April 3 (Reuters) - Gulf Arab states voiced deep concern on Sunday over what they called Iranian interference in their affairs after Iran objected to the despatch of Saudi troops to Bahrain and a spying row raised tensions.

A statement issued after a meeting of foreign ministers of the six-members Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) "severely condemned Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain which is in violation of international pacts".

Shi'ite Iran has criticised Saudi Arabia for sending troops to Bahrain which faces protests by majority Shi'ites against the small island state's Sunni royal family.

Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-ruled Gulf states, wary of Iran's influence and Shi'ite unrest, see Bahrain as posing the biggest threat of the popular uprisings that have swept the region since January.

The meeting "condemned the baseless accusations (by) the Iranian parliament regarding Saudi Arabia and considers it a hostile stand and a provocative interference".

A key committee of Iran's parliament's had warned that Saudi Arabia was "playing with fire" by sending troops to Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states say the troops were sent under a joint GCC defence agreement.


CALL FOR IRAN TO RECONSIDER STAND

"I hope the Iranian leadership reconsiders its relationship and its co operation and its dealing with ... GCC nations in a serious and real manner," Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, told reporters.

The meeting also condemned "the blatant Iranian interference in Kuwait through planting spy cells on its territory".

A Kuwaiti court last week sentenced two Iranians and a Kuwaiti to death for being part of an alleged Iranian spy ring in a case that has strained Kuwait-Tehran relations.

Kuwait said on Thursday it may expel three Iranian diplomats over the spying row and withdrew its ambassador from Tehran.

Iran has denied the spying allegations and said it did not interfere in Kuwait's internal affairs.

Sheikh Abdullah nodded when asked whether Western-allied Gulf states would take diplomatic steps against Iran. "I don't think it is appropriate for me to disclose these steps for the time being, I mean diplomatic steps," he said.

The statement also voiced concern over the "deterioration of the security situation and the division in Yemen" after weeks of protests demanding the end of the 32-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and called for all sides to engage in a national dialogue.

"On Yemen, there are some ideas that will be addressed to the Yemeni sides. I don't want to use the word mediation because now we are in a stage of feeling the pulse," Sheikh Abdullah said. (Editing by Michael Roddy)


==

Bahraini cleric slams violent crackdown
Sat Apr 2, 2011 5:54PM
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Bahrain Friday Prayers Leader Sheikh Isa Qasim Manama's Friday Prayers leader has condemned the crackdown on opposition protests, warning the government that its actions will only create hostility.


“When the government adopts the policy of terrorism and violence against its own people, it will create hostility,” Sheikh Isa Qasim said to worshippers during his sermon on Friday.

“This enmity is neither in the interest of the nation nor the government,” he continued. “This will erode the sense of security and threaten it across the country.”

“Now the country is in an extreme state of emergency. This will get matters further out of control and cause more complications,” he added.

The Bahraini police, backed by Saudi Arabian troops, have intensified the clampdown on opposition protesters who demand a constitutional monarchy.

Rights groups and opposition parties say hundreds of people have been detained or have gone missing since the protests began in mid February, with at least 25 people killed and 1,000 others wounded so far.

The education ministry has formed a committee tasked with taking action against teachers and school officials who attend anti-government protests. Reports say some employees have been summoned for questioning.

Bahraini demonstrators maintain that they will continue with their protests until their demands are met for a new constitution that would limit the king's powers. They are also calling for Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa to step down.

===
Bahraini royal daunts cyber activists
Fri Apr 1, 2011 8:58AM
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An anti-government protester's hands painted like Bahrain's flag A Bahraini royal family member, Mohammed S. AlKhalifa, has been intimidating several internet activists, threatening them with kidnapping or arrest.


A press TV correspondent in Bahrain reported Friday that a well-known Bahraini blogger, Mohammed al-Masqati, has been arrested following the threats.

The threatening Twitter message by the royal family member reads, “Look you AlMasqati; I know you well and I know where you live. If you do not stop what you are doing, I swear to God I will have your family searching for you."

In Bahrain, protesters continue to demand the ouster of the 200-year-old-plus monarchy as well as constitutional reforms.

At least 25 people have been killed and about 1,000 others injured during the government-sanctioned crackdowns on peaceful demonstrators.

Joined recently by police units and troops from Saudi and the United Arab Emirates, the Bahraini government forces have launched a deadly crackdown on the popular revolution that began to sweep the Persian Gulf island on February 14.

The Saudi-backed forces have recently been sighted destroying religious and historical monuments.

On Wednesday, the Human Rights Watch accused Bahraini forces of using violence against people that had already received injuries during earlier attacks.

The rights body said it had documented several cases in which the forces had "severely harassed or beaten" patients under medical care in the country's Salmaniya hospital in Manama.

===


'US, Saudis sustain dictators in power'Fri Apr 1, 2011 8:32AM
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Anti-regime protests in Yemen have left around 100 dead since mid-February.An American political observer says there is no end in sight for the spread of uprisings throughout the Arab world, blaming the US and Saudi Arabia for the sustenance of dictators in the region.


“Nothing will contain the anti-colonial revolution that is sweeping the area as a class content today until those basic survival needs of people can be met,” said Ralph Schoenman, an American author and political activist, in an interview with Press TV.

He said that the Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh “has been sustained, not only by the United States military and Special Forces, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), but above all, by the Saudi monarchy, to which it is deeply attached, and on which it is deeply dependent.”

“That is the same exact process that is unfolding in Bahrain. These regimes are being rejected by the mass of the population and brute force will not sustain them or maintain them.”Commenting on the possibility of creating “chaos” in the Middle Eastern country, Schoenman said “the ideas and the issues that motivate and mobilize the people in Yemen have nothing to do with chaos.”

“The uprising that arose decades ago, and encompassed the southern part of Yemen, was a very coherent political and class-based rejection of the Feudalism of the Wahabi-dominated north. And that continues to this very day.”

The American activist went on to say that the word “chaos” -- as defined by the US establishment -- means “not sufficiently subordinate to US control.”

“Creating an apparatus that can sustain access to resources is the fundamental objective of the United States and the colonial and imperial powers.”



Schoenman's comments came amid the ongoing anti-government protests in Yemen, which have left around 100 people dead since they began in mid-February.



==

===

'Bahrain enlisting Pakistani forces'
Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:49PM
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People attend the funeral of a victim of government-ordered crackdown in the village of Sa'ar to the west of the capital, Manama.Bahrain is reportedly recruiting former Pakistani troopers and anti-riot experts to aid in its crackdown on anti-government protesters.


Leading Pakistani daily The News wrote on Tuesday that the Bahrain National Guard (BNG) had recently visited Pakistan with the end in sight.

The visit had followed advertisements, titled "Urgent Requirement: Manpower for Bahrain National Guard," in two daily Urdu newspapers.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has voiced 'deep concern over the recruitment of foreign mercenaries,' saying it would lead to growing hostility toward foreign nationals, especially Pakistanis.

Those who decide to enlist in Bahrain's Army get their visas from the country's embassy and consulates in Pakistan to fly to the sheikhdom. The mercenaries are interviewed by the BNG delegation and extremist Wahhabis -- adherents to an already-extreme interpretation of Islam.

Some 30 paid agents have reportedly been recruited so far.

Manama has been leading violent armed attacks against peaceful protesters since the popular revolution began to sweep the Persian Gulf island on February 14.

At least 25 people have been killed and about 1,000 others injured during the government-sanctioned crackdown.

The country has already enlisted the services of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait to back up the suppression.

===

Bahraini forces destroy Shia mausoleumThu Mar 31, 2011 11:49AM
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Pearl Square in Bahraini capital ManamaAmid the growing crackdown in Bahrain, forces backed by Saudi Arabian troops have destroyed the mausoleum of prominent Shia leader Abdul Hamid al-Jamri.


The forces took away the dome of the mausoleum on Thursday.

Bahraini forces had earlier pulled down the monument on the Pearl Square in the capital city of Manama.

The Pearl Square was the focal point of anti-government protests over the past weeks since it served as a symbol of resistance against the Bahraini regime.

Meanwhile, anti-government protests continue demonstrations in the sheikhdom despite the heavy crackdown on peaceful demonstrators.

Witnesses said Bahraini troops attacked protesters in Diraz, Sanabis, Nuwaidrat and Belad al-Qadeem on Wednesday.
According to reports, at least 24 people have been killed and about 1,000 others injured during the government-sanctioned violence.

The Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on the Bahraini government to urgently probe the deaths of people during the crackdown.



===


Bahrain opposition accepts Kuwait's offer to mediate

27 Mar 2011 08:43

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Wefaq welcomes Kuwaiti initiative to mediate in crisis

* Bahrain eases curfew by one hour

(Updates with Wefaq comments, curfew times, details)

By Frederik Richter

MANAMA, March 27 (Reuters) - Bahrain's largest Shiite opposition group Wefaq has accepted Kuwait's offer to mediate in talks with Bahrain's government to end a political crisis gripping the tiny kingdom, a member of Wefaq said on Sunday.

Bahrain on March 16 ended weeks of protests by mostly Shi'ite protesters that had prompted the king to impose martial law and call in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled neighbours.

Jasim Husain, a member of Wefaq, said Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah has offered to mediate between Bahrain's Sunni al-Khalifa ruling family and Shi'ite opposition groups.

"We welcome the idea of bringing in an outside element," Husain told Reuters.

He said that Wefaq's had no conditions for entering mediation talks but the presence of foreign troops in Bahrain would be a thorny matter in the discussions.

Wefaq and its six allies said last week they would not enter talks offered by Bahrain's Crown Prince unless the government pulled troops off the streets and freed prisoners.

Husain said talks must be based on issues outlined by Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa before Gulf state troops entered Bahrain. These include an elected government and reform of electoral districts that the opposition says were cut to ensure a Sunni majority in parliament.

"The fear is that the results (of mediation) may not be acceptable to the opposition or that they can't be sold to the public," said Husain.

Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which view Bahrain's ruling family as a bulwark against regional Shiite power Iran, have sent troops to Bahrain to help it quell weeks of unrest following pro-democracy protests.

Kuwait, which has a Shiite minority of its own, has sent navy vessels to Bahrain under a Gulf security pact to patrol its Northern coast line.

Wefaq and its allies also want an elected council to redraft the constitution, a demand over which preliminary talks with Khalifa collapsed shortly before Gulf troops arrived and Bahrain drove protesters off the streets and banned public gatherings.

More than 60 percent of Bahrainis are Shi'ites, and most are campaigning for a constitutional monarchy, but calls by hardliners for the overthrow of the monarchy have alarmed Sunnis, who fear the unrest serves Iran, separated from Bahrain by just a short stretch of Gulf waters.

The ferocity of the government crackdown has stunned Bahrain's majority Shi'ites and angered Iran.

A Wefaq delegation is set to meet Kuwaiti politicians including Parliament Speaker Jassem al-Kharafi, Kuwaiti daily al-Seyassah said on Sunday citing unnamed political sources.

Ali al-Matrook, a Kuwaiti Shiite businessman is one of the Kuwaiti mediators, Wefaq's Husain said.
Bahrain cut curfew times again, by an hour, on Sunday. From Seef Mall through the financial district to the diplomatic area the curfew now runs from 11 p.m. (0200 GMT) to 4 a.m. (0700 GMT), cut gradually from 12 hours when it was first imposed. (Additional reporting by Rania El Gamal in Manama and Eman Goma in Kuwait; Editing by Louise Ireland)


==



'Bahrain protests face Draconian laws'
Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:43AM
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A file photo of Bahrain protestsA senior leader of Bahrain Freedom Movement says the small Persian Gulf monarchy is under a junta rule meting out severe punishments on any protests.


“The military authorities…are now running the country, running the show, running the hospitals and they are running the media,” Saeed al-Shahabi, a top member of the movement said in a Friday interview with Press TV.

“So we are under a military takeover, a military regime that has suspended civil liberties and is imposing draconian laws on the people,” he added.

His comments come in the wake of Bahrain's heavy-handed crackdown on anti-government protesters that have been seeking political reforms in the tiny island nation.

Shahabi warned of further brutal suppression of protests and said the government has imposed an information blackout in the country and the outside world receives a fraction of information trickling out of the country.

At least 21 people, mostly protesters, have been killed since the start of the recent uprising in Bahrain, with the most recent victim dying on Thursday from gunshot wounds sustained in the previous week.

Shahabi noted that the casualty figure is expected to rise as Bahrainis prepare for more protests against the kingdom.

Amnesty International has condemned Bahrain's brutal crackdown on protesters ahead of mass demonstrations planned to follow Friday Prayers.

"Amnesty International believes that they have been detained solely for their criticism of and involvement in the protests and that therefore they are prisoners of conscience," the London-based human rights group stated on Thursday.

A “Day of Rage” has been called on Friday across the country by the February 14 Youth Movement. It is planning to break the recently enforced three-month state of emergency, which bans public gatherings.

Earlier this week, the United Nations Human Rights Office criticized Bahrain for violating international law by targeting activists and medical staff.

==



Bahrain is using excessive force against anti-government protesters.Bahraini authorities have razed to the ground a hospital west of the country for providing medical services to injured anti-government protesters.


The Shahrakan Maternity Hospital was bulldozed over by army forces on Friday and there are no reports about the condition or whereabouts of the injured.

Bahraini authorities earlier destroyed the Pearl Square in the capital Manama, which was the epicenter of anti-government protests.

Also on Friday, Bahraini security attacked anti-government protesters in the city of Sitra using teargas, buckshots and stun grenades. Many protesters have been reportedly injured.

Witnesses say authorities have closed all medical centers in the area and no ambulance is allowed to take wounded protesters.

Reports coming from Bahrain say at least 30,000 people attended the protest rally in Sitra.

Thousands of anti-government protesters have also poured into the streets in Bilad al Qadem, a village on the outskirt of Manama, to attend the funeral procession of Hani Abdulaziz, a protester who was killed earlier this week.

According to witnesses, mourners were surrounded by hundreds of security troops and an army helicopter was hovering over the funeral procession in Bilad Qadem. However, there were no reports of clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in the village.

The recent brutal crackdowns in Bahrain come as the United Nations' human rights office has called on Manama not to use military force on protesters.

Thousands of anti-government protesters poured into the streets across Bahrain on Friday, dubbed the "Day of Rage."

Since the beginning of anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain at least 20 protesters have been killed and many others have gone missing.


===

Iraqis protest Saudi's Bahrain invasionTue Mar 22, 2011 6:13AM
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Thousands of Iraqi Shia Muslims carry Bahraini and Iraqi flags as they wage a protest rally in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad on March 20, 2011.Hundreds of protesters have poured into the streets of Iraq's capital Baghdad to demand the withdrawal of Saudi and other foreign forces from the crisis-hit Bahrain.


The demonstrators marched in Baghdad streets on Monday to express their anger at foreign military interventions in Bahrain in efforts to help the ruling al-Khalifa monarchy stifle weeks of anti-regime protest rallies, Reuters reported.

"Here we are at your command, you, the Bahraini people until victory,” read a placard carried by the crowd.

The anti-government protesters also chanted slogans against Saudi Arabia's 87-year-old King Abdullah, and burnt American and Israeli flags.

"This protest is being held in solidarity with the oppressed Bahraini people who are exposed to despotism, humiliation, killings and fear by the hired Saudi regime, the ones who are occupying Bahraini land," one of the Iraqi protesters, Ali al-Lami, said.

The dispatch of troops from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies of Bahrain has highlighted concerns about possible spillover from the country, where month-old protest rallies seek to break the Western-backed government's monopoly on power.

Saudi and other Arab rulers fear that any concession by Bahrain's rulers could embolden more protests against their own despotic rules.

Recently, mass protests in Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Yemen have been demanding government reform.

Foreign military interventions in Bahrain have served as a cause of concern for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has called for a meaningful and broad-based national dialogue.

The UN chief has also urged Bahrain's regional neighbors and the international community to support a dialogue process and an environment conducive to credible reform in Bahrain.

Bahraini opposition groups, including the main bloc al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, have denounced the Saudi military intervention as an invasion of their country.

The US military, which has its Fifth Fleet based there, has avoided describing the foreign troop intervention in Bahrain as an invasion.

Bahraini demonstrators maintain that they will hold their ground until their demands for freedom, constitutional monarchy as well as a proportional voice in the government are met.

More than 15 people have so far been killed and about 1,000 others have been injured since anti-government protests in the Persian Gulf island nation began in mid-February.




Kuwait joins Bahrain military crackdown
Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:18AM
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Kuwaitis protest in support of Bahraini anti-government protesters in Kuwait City.Kuwait has joined foreign military forces invading Bahrain by sending navy units to the Persian Gulf sheikhdom to help the government crack down on protesters.


A number of Kuwaiti vessels docked off the Bahraini coasts on Monday with some Kuwaiti ground forces onboard, Bahrain news agency reported.

The Kuwaiti ambassador in Manama said his country wants to help calm the situation in Bahrain.

However, Bahraini opposition groups have condemned the presence of foreign troops, calling it an "occupation."

Saudi Arabia has also deployed more than 1,000 troops to the country, while the UAE has dispatched around 500 police forces to assist in the violent repression of protesters.

More than 15 people have been killed and about 1,000 injured since the start of the anti-government protests demanding the ouster of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa from the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom in mid-February.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other human rights organizations have strongly condemned the military intervention and called the action illegal.



==

Bahraini woman dies of gunshot woundsTue Mar 22, 2011 9:52AM
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Bahraini women wait outside a hospital in Manama, Bahrain, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011, where victims of the confrontation between anti-government protesters and riot police were being treated.Bahrain's main opposition party, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, say a Bahraini woman has succumbed to gunshot wounds she had earlier sustained to her head.


Bahiya al-Aradi died on Tuesday and her funeral is to be held later in the day, Reuters quoted Wefaq bloc as saying.

Wefaq said the exact circumstances of how she was shot were not clear. She had apparently been driving her car in the west of the capital Manama on Wednesday, when security forces launched a crackdown against anti-regime protesters.
Aradi's death brings to seven the number of Bahraini civilians confirmed killed since last Wednesday's crackdown.

The dispatch of troops from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies of Bahrain has highlighted concerns about possible spillover of the uprising in the country, where month-old protest rallies seek to end the Western-backed government's monopoly on power.

Saudi and other Arab rulers fear that any concession by Bahrain's rulers could embolden more protests against their own despotic rules.

Recently, mass protests in Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Yemen have also demanded government reforms.

Foreign military interventions in Bahrain have served as a cause of concern for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has called for a meaningful and broad-based national dialogue.

The UN chief has also urged Bahrain's regional neighbors and the international community to support a dialogue process and an environment conducive to credible reform in Bahrain.

Bahraini opposition groups, including the main bloc al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, have denounced the Saudi military intervention as an invasion of their country.

The US military, which has its Fifth Fleet based there, has avoided describing the foreign troop intervention in Bahrain as an invasion.

Bahraini demonstrators maintain that they will hold their ground until their demands for freedom, constitutional monarchy as well as a proportional voice in the government are met.

At least 20 people have so far been killed and about 1,000 others have been injured since anti-government protests in the Persian Gulf island nation began in mid-February.




===


Iraq backs intervention in Libya; Sadr condemns
21 Mar 2011 10:26

Source: reuters // Reuters


(Adds Sadr comment)

BAGHDAD, March 21 (Reuters) - Iraq said on Monday it supports international intervention in Libya, but influential Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr condemned it and said Western states should avoid civilian casualties.

"The Iraqi government supports international efforts to protect the Libyan people," the office of government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh quoted him as saying in a brief reply to a Reuters query asking for Iraq's position.

A website that publishes the views of Sadr said the cleric had condemned the Western intervention in Libya along with the arrival of troops from Gulf countries in Bahrain to help put down protests by mainly-Shi'ite demonstrators there.

"His eminence (Sadr) rejected and condemned the foreign interference in Libyan and Bahraini internal affairs saying that the people are the ones who own decisions and governments should step down if the people call for it," the website of the media department of Sadr's movement said.

"Those who want to topple (Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi's regime with their planes should avoid killing civilians and avoid the calamities of bombings."

Sadr, who long led violent opposition among Shiites to the U.S. presence in Iraq, has since become a key part of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's ruling coalition. (Reporting by Waleed Ibrahim; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Jon Hemming)



===

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FEATURE-Saudi Shi'ite protests simmer as Bahrain conflict rages21 Mar 2011 09:13

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Shi'ite protests previously focused on prisoner releases

* Shi'ites complain of discrimination in jobs, development


By Cynthia Johnston

QATIF, Saudi Arabia, March 21 (Reuters) - Hundreds of young Shi'ite men marched down a commercial street in the Saudi city of Qatif, near the heart of the kingdom's oil industry, pounding their fists in anger over their country's military intervention in Bahrain.

"With our blood and soul we sacrifice for you, Bahrain," they chanted as they walked, according to videos of a recent protest posted on the internet. Some wore scarves to conceal their faces. Others waved Bahraini flags.

"People are boiling," one Shi'ite activist in Qatif told Reuters by phone, asking not to be named for fear of arrest. "People are talking about strikes, demonstration and prayer to help the Bahrainis."

The protests were in response to Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter and most powerful Gulf Arab state, sending troops to Bahrain last week to help quell weeks of protests by majority Shi'ites in the Sunni-led monarchy. Bahrain's opposition called it a declaration of war.

Riyadh, facing Shi'ite protests of its own, fears a sustained revolt in neighbouring Bahrain could embolden its own Shi'ite minority, which has long grumbled about sectarian discrimination, charges Riyadh denies.

The military intervention, however, appears to have only deepened Shi'ite resentment in the kingdom, where between 10 and 15 percent of the 18 million Saudi nationals are Shi'ites.

Leading Saudi Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Hassan al-Saffar has called for Gulf leaders to find a political solution.

Saudi Shi'ites, inspired by pro-democracy protests across the Arab world that toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia, have held sporadic protests in a handful of eastern towns over the past three weeks.

"Before the start of revolution in Tunis, people felt rather incapable of making a difference," activist Tawfiq al-Seif said. "They (now) feel they can make a difference."

But Saudi Arabia's Bahrain intervention, as part of a Gulf force, has raised the stakes even as a broader protest movement has not taken hold. The scenes at recent protests were in stark contrast to previous demonstrations focused on narrow demands like securing freedom for long-held detainees.

In those early protests, women in black abaya cloaks held out roses and men waved the Saudi national flag, videos showed. "Freedom for prisoners," one sign read. "Justice is our demand," said another.


RIFTS

By day, Qatif is a place of contrasts. Carefully planted white flowers flutter in road medians and luxury villas with decorative stone walls contrast with apartment blocks with exposed cinderblock or faded and peeling paint.

Pictures of King Abdullah abound in the town, the outskirts of which are dotted with date palms. Graffiti, which a government escort says was likely words of romance, has been scribbled over to make it illegible.

"Everything is fine. We are good," said one man, asked about the situation in Qatif on a main street where protests have taken place, speaking as a government escort looked on.

But activists say there is significant resentment, stemming from the feelings of inequality by Shi'ites who want better infrastructure in their towns, improved access to jobs and to be treated as equals in the Sunni-dominated kingdom.

"You don't have to take it from a Shi'ite, they are discriminated against... We have never seen a minister who is Shi'ite. We have never seen a deputy minister who is Shi'ite," said Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb, head of the Human Rights First Society.

Activists say there have been some attempts at dialogue in recent weeks, and several prominent Shi'ites said they hoped that their areas would be among the beneficiaries of handouts by King Abdullah.

The Saudi King offered $93 billion in handouts on Friday that included funds for housing and boosted his security and religious police forces, after last month announcing an economic package worth $37 billion to ease social tensions.

But there was no word on a cabinet change that some Shi'ite activists hoped would include new and younger ministers more amenable to addressing their political demands.

Rifts were clearly present, however, between Shi'ite youth who think a solution will come from the street and those in a more conservative older generation who would like to continue a slower path to reform through dialogue.

Protesters complain that authorities have sometimes clamped down harshly on them, including firing into the air to disperse protests in at least one instance and arresting demonstrators. The other side says the youth are being unreasonably impatient.

"People, especially young people, do not value security and stability. These are worth billions," said Adeeb Alkhunaizi, a petroleum engineer from Qatif who works for the government.


A Shi'ite judge in the town who has urged an end to street protests, Sheikh Wajeeh al-Awjami, said youth had broken through the gate of his second home and set it ablaze, after earlier sending him text messages bemoaning his opposition to protests.

At his home, an estate with a fountain, indoor swimming pool and mulberry trees, workers cleared away charred rubble from the living quarters where the roof had collapsed.

"When King Abdullah returned from the outside ... he promised us he will give many benefits," he said. "He said we will give you what you want. The young people, they don't want to wait."
(Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)




===

A demonstrator protests the Saudi invasion of Bahrain in the Iranian capital, Tehran on March 17, 2011.Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have reportedly struck a secret deal, which would compel each side to protect the other's political interests.


The deal was signed during Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa's visit to Saudi Arabia last month, the Iraqi news website, Nahrain-Net reported.
Based on the accord, the Bahraini monarch should confer with Saudi King Abdullah on political, military and security affairs as well as issues related to Manama's foreign policy.

It also allows Riyadh to set up autonomous and permanent military bases in Bahrain.

The deal enabled Saudi Arabia's recent invasion of Bahrain in support of Manama's suppression of the popular revolution, the website said.

Demonstrators in the Shia-majority Bahrain have been demanding the ouster of the Sunni-led Al Khalifa monarchy as well as constitutional reforms since February 14.

More than a dozen people have been killed and about 1,000 injured since the start of the anti-government protests.

Violence has intensified against the demonstrators ever since the deployment of Saudi forces, which have started operating in the country alongside servicemen from the United Arab Emirates.

The deal allows Saudis to control Bahrain's intelligence and carry out any measure to change Bahrain's demographics.
Thousands of Bahrainis protested earlier in the month against what they denounced as Manama's naturalization policy, through which it attempts to change the country's demographic map.

"All those who are naturalized will be pro-government, and those in the police and army will follow their orders even if they are against the Bahraini people," said a protester.
Riyadh has to keep its side of the bargain by helping Al Khalifa to continue ruling Bahrain.

Thousands have turned out in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia in recent days to protest the Saudi invasion.



===

Bahrain king says forces have foiled foreign plot21 Mar 2011 06:29

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Says foreign plot had been planned for 20-30 years

* Warns successful plot could spill to other Gulf states


MANAMA, March 21 (Reuters) - Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said a foreign plot against his kingdom had been foiled and thanked troops brought in from neighbouring countries to help end increasing unrest after weeks of protests.

"An external plot has been fomented for 20 to 30 years until the ground was ripe for subversive designs ... I here announce the failure of the fomented plot," the state news agency BNA quoted him overnight as telling troops.

King Hamad told the forces that such if such a plot succeeded in one Gulf Arab country, it could spill into neighbouring states, BNA said.

The ferocity of a crackdown last week by Bahrain forces, aided by the entrance of troops from Sunni-ruled Gulf countries, stunned Bahrain's majority Shi'ites, the main force of the protests, and angered the region's non-Arab Shi'ite power Iran.

Iran, which supports Shi'ite groups in Iraq and Lebanon, has complained to the United Nations and asked neighbours to join it in urging Saudi Arabia to withdraw forces from Bahrain.

King Hamad's announcement came after a day of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions between the Gulf island kingdom and Iran.

In a sign of rising tensions between the countries, Bahrain expelled Iran's charge d'affaires on Sunday, accusing him of contacts with some opposition groups, a diplomatic source said.

He left shortly after the Iranian ambassador, asked to leave last week. Iran expelled a Bahraini diplomat in response.

Bahrain has also said previously that it arrested opposition leaders for dealing with foreign countries. (Editing by Jon Hemming)




==
UAE troops arrive in Bahrain
Sat Mar 19, 2011 2:10AM
Share | Email | PrintTroops of the United Arab Emirates have arrived in Bahrain to join the Saudi Arabian troops which have been there since earlier this week.


On Friday, Bahrain TV showed footage of a convoy of troops from the UAE arriving in the capital Manama.

Earlier, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa announced that three or four Persian Gulf countries would be sending troops to help quell the anti-government demonstrations that have rocked the country.

He said that the foreign forces would remain for as long as it took to bring calm after demonstrations by anti-government protesters.

But on Thursday, Kuwait announced that it would not send troops to Bahrain and instead may try to mediate between the Bahraini government and the anti-government protesters.

Demonstrators have been demanding the ouster of the 230-year-old Sunni-led monarchy as well as constitutional reforms since February 14.

At least 12 people have been killed and about 1,000 injured during the anti-government protests in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom, where the United States Fifth Fleet is based.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other human rights organizations have strongly condemned the military intervention and have called the action illegal.



==

Saudi troops break up protest rally
Fri Mar 18, 2011 5:34PM
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An anti-government protest rally in Qatif, Saudi ArabiaSaudi security forces in the eastern city of Omran have broken up a protest rally, held to condemn the kingdom's military intervention in Bahrain.


At least ten protesters were injured after Saudi forces used batons to disperse the demonstrators peacefully marching to show solidarity with Shias in Bahrain.

Earlier this week, armed forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates rolled into Bahrain to assist Manama in its crackdown on Shia-led anti-government protests against the ruling Sunni dynasty.

Similar protest rallies were also held in some other eastern Saudi cities, including Qatif, Safwa, Awamiya and al-Rabeeya.

The protesters, mainly Shias, also called for the release of “forgotten political prisoners,” who are being held unjustly and without trial, some as long as 16 years.

On Thursday, Saudi security forces fired teargas and rubber bullets at anti-government demonstrators in Qatif protesting against Saudi Arabia's military invasion of Bahrain. The protesters also called for political reforms.

Friday's protest rallies came shortly after Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, in a rare televised speech, announced massive social benefits including offering employees two months extra salary, higher unemployment benefits, better healthcare and improved housing.

He also ordered the creation of 60,000 new jobs within the security forces the setting up of a commission to fight corruption.

The Saudi king, however, coupled the handouts with a warning. The 86-year old monarch said on Friday that threats to the nation's security and stability would not be tolerated and that Saudi security forces would crackdown on any anti-government protests.
Meanwhile, his speech and the royal decrees that followed failed to make any mention of an expected cabinet shuffle or any political reforms.


===


Iraqis rally in support of Bahrainis
Fri Mar 18, 2011 7:37PM
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Iraqi demonstrators called for the withdrawal of Saudi forces from Bahrain.Thousands of Iraqis have poured into the streets in major cities across the country to protest against Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Bahrain.


Waving Iraqi and Bahraini flags, the demonstrators, mainly Shias, expressed their full support for Bahraini protesters who are facing a deadly crackdown.

In Baghdad's Sadr City about 10,000 followers of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr marched following the Friday Prayers to show solidarity with anti-government protesters in Bahrain. The crowds also vowed to go to the rescue of their Bahraini brethren.

"These protests are the beginning of support for the Bahraini people and if the Saudi and Bahraini rulers won't respond, we will act, even if we are forced to go and be human shields," said Muhanad al-Gharrawi, a Sadr aide.

Similar protest rallies were also held in the holy city of Najaf, Basra, Baquba and Kirkuk.

"This is a sectarian war led by Saudi [Arabia]. It is the beginning of the downfall of Saudi [Arabia] itself," Ahmed Nour Addin, an unemployed university graduate told AFP in Basra.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his ruling Shia bloc have also condemned the deployment of Saudi troops in Bahrain

Many countries, including Iran, Lebanon and Kuwait, have condemned Saudi Arabia's military invasion of Bahrain.

The protests came after Bahraini and Saudi forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, attacked anti-government demonstrators in the capital's Pearl Square on Wednesday, killing at least six protesters and wounding dozens of others.

Saudi forces also attacked Manama's main hospital where the injured were being treated, taking all people inside the building including doctors and nurses hostage.

On Friday, Bahraini authorities razed Pearl Square to the ground.

Anti-government protesters had been camped there for several weeks.


==


Saudi Shi'ites call for Bahrain troop withdrawal
17 Mar 2011 19:36

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Hundreds protest in and around Qatif

* Protesters demand release of Shi'ite prisoners

* Say Saudi forces should leave Bahrain


By Jason Benham

RIYADH, March 17 (Reuters) - Saudi Shi'ites held more protests in the kingdom's oil-producing east on Thursday in support of Shi'ites in Bahrain and called for the withdrawal of Saudi forces from there, activists said.

They said hundreds attended four protests in and around the eastern region's main Shi'ite centre, Qatif, and also called for the release of Shi'ite prisoners in the kingdom, where the austere Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam is applied.

"They are supporting Bahrain and are demanding the release of Shi'ite prisoners," an activist who declined to be named said.

Protesters shouted "Bahrain Free Free. Saudi forces out!" he said. Another said security forces fired shots into the air.

Earlier on Thursday, the leader of Bahrain's largest opposition group urged Saudi Arabia to withdraw its forces and called for a U.N. inquiry into a crackdown on mainly Shi'ite protesters that has raised tensions in the oil-exporting region. [ID:nLDE72F2Q5]

Saudi Arabia's minority Shi'ites complain of discrimination, saying they often struggle to get senior government jobs and benefits available to other citizens. The government of Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy that usually does not tolerate public dissent, denies the charges.

Last month, King Abdullah unveiled handouts worth an estimated $37 billion to ease social pressures and the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said this month that dialogue, rather than protests, should bring about change.

Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, has escaped the mass uprisings that have rocked the Arab world but some dissent has built up as unrest has spread in neighbouring Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and Oman.

Web activists had slated March 11 as the first day for mass protests around the country in favour of democratic government and a constitutional rather than absolute monarchy. But a religious ruling banning demonstrations and a heavy police crackdown appeared to have intimidated most potential protesters. (Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton and Janet Lawrence)


====

Bahrainis to bury dead protester amid crackdown

18 Mar 2011 06:48

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Shiites await guidance from top cleric in Friday sermon

* Bahrain rejects Iran's complaints to UN over crackdown

(Adds details, colour)

By Erika Solomon and Lin Noueihed

MANAMA, March 18 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Bahrainis gathered on Friday to bury an activist killed in a crackdown on mainly Shiite Muslim protesters that has angered Iran and raised tensions in the world's largest oil-exporting region.

Mourners carrying black flags and pictures of activist Ahmed Farhan, who was killed on Wednesday, waited at the cemetery for his body to arrive. No security forces were present and it was unclear if police would disperse the mourners under a blanket ban on public gatherings.

"This is a big loss... They can say what they want about us but we are non-violent. We will never use violence," said Yousif Hasan Ali, who was in jail with Farhan, 30, for over two years.

"They may silence this generation but another will rise up to demand revenge for the blood that was shed now."


Bahrain has arrested seven opposition leaders and driven pro-democracy demonstrators from the streets after weeks of protests that drew in troops from its fellow Sunni-ruled neighbours and prompted the king to declare martial law.

Three protesters died in the security sweep. Three policemen also were killed, hit by demonstrators in fast-moving cars.

The crackdown has drawn sympathy protests from Shi'ites across the region, including top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, which has sent more than 1,000 troops into its tiny neighbour.

Shiite Muslim power Iran, which supports Shiite groups in Iraq and Lebanon, has complained to the United Nations and asked other neighbours to join it in urging Saudi Arabia to withdraw.

Its call was echoed on Thursday by Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of Bahrain's largest Shiite Muslim party Wefaq.

"How could one accept a government to invite foreign military forces to suppress its own citizens?" Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, also addressed to the Arab League.

In a sign that tensions were rising, Bahrain said: "Iran's move does not serve security and stability in the Gulf region."

Over 60 percent of Bahrainis are Shiites. Most are campaigning for a constitutional monarchy, but calls by hardliners for the overthrow of the monarchy have alarmed Sunnis, who fear the unrest serves Iran, located across a short stretch of Gulf waters from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Bahraini state TV called the detainees leaders of "civil strife" and said they had been communicating with foreign countries and inciting murder and destruction of properties.

It did not name the countries. Analysts say the intervention of Saudi Arabia, which is worried Bahraini unrest will incite its own Shiite minority, risks a growing standoff with Iran.

Oil prices rose on Thursday on growing geopolitical tension in the Middle East and North Africa.

Capital flight is starting to put pressure on Bahrain's currency and threaten its position as a Gulf financial centre.

Most Western nations have urged their citizens to leave.

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FRIDAY PRAYERS

The ferocity of the crackdown, which has seen troops and police fan out across Bahrain, impose a curfew and ban all public gatherings and marches, has stunned Bahrain's Shiites.

On Thursday, opposition activists told a news conference they would press on with peaceful resistance, holding a sit-in inside the mosques after Friday prayers, standing outside their homes at certain hours and flying the flag from their rooftops.

Wefaq supporters will also call Allahu Akbar, or God is Great, from their rooftops at night in peaceful resistance.

It was not clear what else they could do without provoking a confrontation and some ordinary Shiites said they were waiting for guidance from Sheikh Issa Qassim, the country's top Shiite Muslim cleric, who is due to give a sermon on Friday.

"We are waiting to see what Sheikh Issa Qassim says," Hussein al-Ali, from a Shiite Muslim area near Sar, said.

Among those detained overnight were Haq leader Hassan Mushaima and Wafa leader Abdel Wahhab Hussein, who had led calls for the overthrow of the royal family, Wefaq officials said.

More moderate Wefaq had limited its demands to political and constitutional reform. Also arrested was Ibrahim Sharif, head of the secular Left party Waad that had the same demands as Wefaq.

In Geneva, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged Bahrain on Thursday to rein in its security forces, citing allegations that they had killed, beaten and carried out arbitrary arrests of protesters and attacked medical workers.

On Thursday, more than a dozen casualties who had been taken to Bahrain International Hospital during the crackdown were gone. Nurses said they had mostly been suffering from teargas inhalation and cuts and bruises. The wards were empty.

Tanks were still guarding the entrances to Salmaniya hospital on Thursday and slowing entry down with searches, after raiding the compound during the crackdown to clear tents that had been set up in the car park by opposition activists.

(Reporting by Frederik Richter in Bahrain, Robin Pomeroy in Iran and Andrew Hammond in Dubai Writing by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Michael Roddy)



==
==

Bahrain protester gets shot in the face by police caught on camera

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طلق مباشر في وجه أحد البحرينيين After a tough day on the Royal Court Rally Two huge demonstrations reached Al-Safryah Place, the home of Bahrain King 13 March 2011, Kingdom of Bahrain, 14th February…
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Salaam un Alaykum,

Grand Shia Cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani Slams Bahrain Violence

http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=231825

Bahraini Shia Scholars Urging Support for the People of Bahrain

http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=231734

Erdogan: Fighting in Bahrain creates a new Karbala

http://www.islamtimes.org/vdchxwnm.23nwvd10t2.html

Pakistani Shia’s announce to hold demos against Saudi and US invasion in Bahrain

http://www.shiitenews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2657:pakistani-shias-announce-to-hold-demos-against-saudi-and-us-invasion-in-bahrain-&catid=57:pakistan&Itemid=37

Iran: US liable for Bahrain invasion

http://www.shiitenews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2658:iranus-liable-for-bahrain-invasion-&catid=58:iran&Itemid=27



[Video Clips]

Bahrain: Monarch's Mercenaries Renew Attacks on Protestors

http://www.aimislam.com/resources/video-archive/1850-bahrain-monarchs-mercenaries-renew-attacks-on-protestors.html

Bahraini Mercenaries Murder Unarmed Civilian in Cold Blood

http://www.aimislam.com/categoryblog/1855-bahraini-mercenaries-murder-unarmed-civilian-in-cold-blood.html

Tragic Video: Injured Bahraini's baby shotgun by the Saudi army - 16 March 2011

http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=231820

Bahrain protester gets shot in the face by police caught on camera.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMVpCfeVrXQ&feature=player_embedded



Both Saudi and Israeli Governments will be in trouble if Bahrain revolution for democracy becomes success full BUT Why?

All press and media is colouring this revolution as a sectarian clash, we should not help the enemies using their language and working against Muslim unity.

Try to analyze this article

http://www.sldinfo.com/?p=16944



===


Capital flight threatens Bahrain, FX peg safe

17 Mar 2011 08:00

Source: reuters // Reuters


(repeats March 16 story with no changes to text)

* Clients move money from Bahraini banks

* Currency under pressure but immediate risk to peg small

* Other Gulf countries could support Bahrain if needed

* But stock exchange, bank closures set worrying precedent

* Prolonged unrest could damage status as finance hub


By Martin Dokoupil

DUBAI, March 16 (Reuters) - Capital flight from Bahrain is starting to pressure its currency and threaten its position as a Gulf financial centre, though it looks likely to avoid a full-blown currency crisis for now.

The small non-OPEC oil producer, where nearly $10 billion in mutual funds was parked last year, is the first Arab banking hub to be hit directly by the political instability sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa.
It is struggling to contain its worst unrest since the 1990s after majority Shi'ite protesters took to the streets, prompting Saudi Arabia to send in troops in an effort to restore order. As many as six people were killed on Wednesday. [ID:nLDE72F02J]

The central bank's tight control over the foreign exchange market, and the possibility of other Gulf countries providing financial support to prevent market turmoil from spreading, mean Bahrain is unlikely for the foreseeable future to have to abandon the dinar's peg against the U.S. dollar.

"A normal reaction to the ongoing downgrades by credit rating agencies would be outflow of short-term capital from the country, but different from other examples, possible financial helplines from other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries are an alleviating factor," said Kubilay Ozturk, EMEA economist at Deutsche Bank in London.

But bankers said there had been substantial outflows of funds from Bahrain this week. On Wednesday, banks in Manama's financial district closed down, the central bank operated from an alternate location and the stock market stopped trading.


DOWNGRADES

Bahrain, home to a $66 billion Islamic finance industry, has faced several downgrades by debt rating agencies since protests started in February, and the cost of insuring its sovereign debt has hit 20-month highs.

Fitch Ratings on Tuesday slashed its sovereign credit rating of Bahrain, which has postponed a $1 billion government bond issue, by two notches to BBB, citing political risks.

The scale of capital outflows from the smallest Gulf economy of 1.2 million people is hard to estimate because of a lack of timely data.

The experience of Egypt is modestly encouraging for Bahrain; when commercial banks reopened in Egypt in February after political unrest, the central bank was prepared for an immediate outflow of $8-10 billion from Egyptian pounds, but only about $1.7 billion was transferred out on the first day and about $1 billion on each of the next two days.

But anecdotal evidence suggest substantial sums have already been moved out of Bahrain, whose banks hold assets of about $200 billion.

One banking source, speaking on condition of anonymity, estimated 15 to 20 percent of deposits and investments of high-level Bahraini citizens in private banks had been withdrawn over the past few days.

"A lot of clients are pulling out their money, they're moving it to London, Europe, wherever. It's not a question of taxes, but of access to their money," another banker from the region said.

"One client pulled out $30 million in a matter of days. With banks closed, movements are limited -- we will see the rush when they reopen."

While nearby Qatar and the United Arab Emirates could receive the fund flows, as they have so far escaped political protests and have small local populations pampered by petrodollars, some bankers said they would just be temporary stops for the funds.

"In at least two or three banks, the bulk of the clients have shifted their money abroad," a banker said.

"Some are moving it through the Emirates, then on to other centres. It makes the transaction less remarkable, as moving a big chunk of money from Bahrain to, say, London would raise eyebrows in this climate."


Should the political crisis drag on, even long-term investors may start to consider relocating their capital, seriously undermining Bahrain's status as a financial hub where foreign claims on banks amount to 92 percent of gross domestic product.

"The type of money Bahrain was receiving is long-term money," said John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi. "If uncertainty continues over several months and people take out a lot of money, it will have a deep negative impact."


CURRENCY

The dinar briefly weakened away from the 0.376 peg to the dollar on Wednesday, dropping as far as 0.37716, but it soon bounced back as the central bank intervened to supply dollars.

Although the central bank had net foreign assets of just $4.7 billion at the end of October 2010, many analysts said its reserves would be enough to see off any threat to the peg, especially because the peg system helps the central bank to influence trade.

"We do not expect pegs to be broken. It would create a bit of precedent in the region and many central banks and authorities across the GCC have been priding themselves on keeping the pegs unchanged," said Bartosz Pawlowski, head of strategy for the region at BNP Paribas in London.

"In order to have a pressure on the peg you need to have a really functioning market. The risks as we stand are minimum."

If necessary, Saudia Arabia might use its resources to defend Bahrain financially, just as it is physically deploying its troops, analysts said.

"Bahrain has foreign reserve resources to support the currency and at the very end of the day even if there were pressures, Saudi Arabia and GCC would likely alleviate pressure through further financial assistance," said Farouk Soussa, Middle East chief economist at Citi in Dubai.
Bahrain, which needs crude oil prices as high as $97 per barrel to be able to balance its budget, is set to receive $10 billion from its wealthier Gulf neighbours to upgrade housing and infrastructure over 10 years.

However, a tumble by the Bahraini dinar in the forwards market on Wednesday suggested what might happen to the currency if authorities did not maintain consistent support. The forwards briefly implied dinar depreciation of about 0.9 percent in one year's time, before they bounced back in response to the central bank intervention. (Additional reporting by Martin De Sa'Pinto in Zurich and Frederik Richter in Manama; Editing by Andrew Torchia)




===

Bahrain arrests 6 opposition leaders after crackdown
17 Mar 2011 06:03

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Streets calm after tanks, helicopters used to rout protest

* Clinton makes rare criticism of Bahrain, Gulf allies

(Releads with arrests, streets clear)

By Frederik Richter and Lin Noueihed

MANAMA, March 17 (Reuters) - Bahrain arrested at least six hardline opposition leaders on Thursday, a day after its crackdown on protests by the Shi'ite Muslim majority drew rare U.S. criticism and raised fears of a regional conflict.

Calm returned to the streets of the Gulf Arab island after Bahaini forces used tanks and helicopters to drive protesters off the streets and clear a camp that had become a symbol of their demand for more rights and powers on the Sunni-ruled island.

Three police and three protesters died in the crackdown.

Among those detained overnight were Haq leader Hassan Mushaima and Wafa leader Abdel Wahhab Hussein, who had led calls for the overthrow of the royal family, the largest opposition party Wefaq said.

More moderate Wefaq had limited its demands to wide-ranging political and constitutional reform. Also arrested was Ibrahim Sharif, head of the secular leftist party Waad.

"Two of the thugs climbed over the fence to get in our yard, one went over and pointed a gun in Ibrahim's face and the other went to our garage to let everyone else in," Farida Ismail, Sharif's wife, told Reuters by telephone.

"They were going around, wrecking things in the house."
The interior ministry could not immediately be reached for comment and the charges against those arrested were not known.

The unrest has brought an influx of troops to Bahrain from Sunni-ruled neighbours Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, which fear the uprising that began last month could play into the hands of non-Arab Shi'ite power Iran.

It also has prompted sympathy protests from Shi'ites across the region, including in Saudi Arabia's oil-producing east.

Earlier this week, Washington said it understood why Bahrain's Sunni rulers had called in reinforcements. But on Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said force was not the answer. [ID:nWEN9671] [ID:nN16173118]

"We find what's happening in Bahrain alarming. We think that there is no security answer to the aspirations and demands of the demonstrators," she told CBS. "They are on the wrong track."

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LIVE BULLETS, PETROL BOMBS

A medical source said dozens of people were taken to Bahrain International Hospital on Wednesday, hit by rubber bullets or shotgun pellets or suffering teargas inhalation -- all weapons used by riot police. One was hit by a live bullet.

Protesters threw rocks and petrol bombs at police who were clearing the protest camp and killed three by running them over with their cars at high speed, witnesses and medical sources said.

U.S. President Barack Obama called the kings of Saudi Arabia, a strategic ally of Washington in the Middle East, and of Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and seen as a bulwark against Iranian influence, to urge "maximum" restraint.

Political analysts say the Obama administration, which backed pro-democracy protests in Egypt, faced a new dilemma as violence in Bahrain appeared to dash hopes for political talks.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jeff Feltman went to Bahrain on Monday to push for talks to resolve the crisis. The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday he had already left.

Over 60 percent of Bahrainis are Shi'ites. Most say they want only the same treatment as Sunnis and a constitutional monarchy but calls by hardliners for the overthrow of the monarchy have alarmed Sunnis, who fear the unrest serves Iran.

Analysts say the intervention of Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab states in Bahrain might provoke a response from Tehran, which supports Shi'ite groups in Iraq and Lebanon.

"This was a major and a dangerous decision because this issue has been internationalised now. There are protests in Iraq, in Iran, in Lebanon," Wefaq MP Jasim Hussein said.

"There was no reason when our demands were local demands and nothing to do with Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates."

Iran condemned Bahrain's response to the protests, the worst unrest there since the 1990s, and recalled its ambassador for consultations, Iranian state TV reported.
"What has happened is bad, unjustifiable and irreparable," it quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying.

On Tuesday Bahrain withdrew its ambassador for consultations to protest against Tehran's criticisms.


"INTERNATIONALISED"

The crackdown in Bahrain has galvanised Iraq's Shi'ite community, exacerbating sectarian tension that led to years of war in Iraq. Iraq's Shi'ite prime minister criticised the assault and Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for protests.

In Lebanon, supporters of Shi'ite group Hezbollah also came out in solidarity with their fellow Shia. [ID:nLDE72F1SK]

Saudi Shi'ites held several demonstrations, including one in their main regional centre, Qatif, on Wednesday, demanding the release of prisoners and voicing support for Shi'ites in Bahrain, an activist and witnesses said. [ID:nLDE72F2M3]

"People were demanding the withdrawal of the Peninsula force and called on Saudi Arabia to withdraw from Bahrain," one witness said, referring to Gulf Arab forces in Bahrain.

A protest called by Bahrain's youth movement, which played a leading role in the protest camp at Pearl roundabout, failed to materialise after the military banned all gatherings and imposed a curfew from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. across a large swathe of Manama.
A Reuters witness saw Bahraini tanks move in the direction of Budaya Street, where the protest was set to take place.

On Thursday morning, police and workers were clearing debris that protesters had used to cut off Bahrain's main thoroughfare that leads to the country's financial district and is lined with the four largest malls.

Military could not be seen on the road to the airport but police checkpoints waved traffic through.

(Additional reporting by Erika Solomon in Dubai, Robin Pomeroy in Iran and Andrew Quinn in Washington; Editing by Michael Roddy)



===


ANALYSIS-Bahrain crisis seen worsening sectarian tensions
16 Mar 2011 12:11

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Bahrain crackdown to heighten Sunni-Shi'ite tension

* U.S. denies it was consulted; Arabs, Iran sceptical

* Shi'ites in Iraq, Lebanon call for rallies in protest


By Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent BEIRUT, March 16 (Reuters) - A Bahraini police crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, two days after Saudi Arabia sent in 1,000 troops to bolster its longtime Gulf Arab ally, will heighten Sunni-Shi'ite tensions in Bahrain and beyond.

At least five people were killed and hundreds wounded when police cleared demonstrators from Manama's Pearl Square on Wednesday in an attempt to halt weeks of popular unrest.

The violence, so soon after the Saudi-led intervention, will further embarrass Washington, which had urged dialogue to tackle Bahrain's problems and says Riyadh did not consult it before moving troops to the island where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based.

That may be the case, but U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Bahrain at the weekend. To many Arabs the timing smacks of U.S. complicity in King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa's decision to invite the Saudis in and declare martial law.

"That will create a narrative that does not make the U.S. look good," said Shadi Hamid of the Doha Brookings Centre.

"It puts the U.S. on one side of the conflict, which is with the status quo and the Bahraini ruling family."

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Non-Arab Iran, which has in the past laid claim to Bahrain, has denounced what it sees as U.S.-backed Gulf Arab meddling.

"It is not possible to stop a popular uprising by using armed forces of other countries," said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "These are ugly and failing actions."

The United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman say they are also sending contingents or personnel to Bahrain as part of a joint defence force of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The decision to crush a protest movement inspired by popular revolts in Egypt and Tunisia is conditioned by the sectarian factor in Bahrain, a tiny country seen by the United States and the GCC as a bulwark against the rising power of Shi'ite Iran.

Sunni Gulf rulers tend to view Shi'ites in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as a potential fifth column for the Islamic Republic, despite what Gulf-based political analyst Neil Partrick called the "clear Arab affinity of many of the Shi'ites of the Gulf".


ROYAL POWER STRUGGLE?

The clampdown in Bahrain suggests that a conservative wing of the ruling family, backed by its Saudi counterparts, has won out over reformers led by Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, who last month offered dialogue with the Shi'ite opposition and said protesters could stay in Pearl Square.

A main demand of Bahrain's pro-democracy movement has been the resignation of conservative Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who has held his post for 40 years.

Bahraini Shi'ites have long complained of discrimination in housing and jobs, charges the government rejects. The protesters had sought to cast their movement as national, not sectarian.

Hamid said the mainstream Shi'ite opposition parties in Bahrain had no ties to Iran, which had few means to counter the Saudi military intervention directly. "Some of the hardline groups may have ties with counterparts in Iran, but again, that doesn't really tell us much about what Iran can do."

But amid the tumult of Middle East protests, the sectarian overtones of the Bahrain crisis find a ready echo in places like Iraq and Lebanon, where Sunni-Shi'ite tensions run high.

Iraqi radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called for rallies in support of the Bahraini protesters. Lebanon's pro-Iranian Shi'ite Hezbollah movement has done likewise.

They point to Bahrain as evidence of U.S. double standards in dealing with uprisings in the Gulf and north Africa.

Partrick said any such difference "reflects the fact that the Gulf Arab family-based regimes do not have the option of the Egyptian or Tunisian regime of obliging an unpopular leader to take a long vacation without the whole edifice being at risk".


PROTECTING THE STATUS QUO

Gulf autocrats clearly have no interest in seeing Bahrain's rulers bow to popular demands for a constitutional monarchy.

That risks energising similar challenges to their own power and privilege, which they have hitherto smothered by using a portion of their oil wealth to buy political quiescence.

"The United States has to back the status quo in the Gulf as the local leaders are an important part of a U.S.-led prop against Iran," Partrick said.

"Washington will cajole in favour of more accountability and more empowered legislatures where it can, but will not wish to fundamentally weaken these allies as it did the Shah of Iran."
The United States has urged all sides in Bahrain to show restraint, but has not criticised the Saudi intervention.

Hamid, of Brookings Doha, said Washington did not want full democracy in Bahrain and was not on the side of the protesters.

"Bahrain is a red line for the U.S., perhaps in a way that Egypt wasn't," he said. The Fifth Fleet base was vital to U.S. projection of power in the region and in countering Iran.

"That is generally America's problem throughout the Arab world right now. Its interests are clashing with its ideals and its interests seem to be winning out," Hamid added.


Arabs had sensed that U.S. President Barack Obama had eventually done the right thing in Egypt by pressing Hosni Mubarak to quit. But since then there had been a return to backing dictators and believing their reform promises were sincere, he said, citing U.S. policy toward Yemen and Bahrain.

Hamid said the United States risked putting itself on the wrong side of history. "If Arabs perceive the U.S. standing against their aspirations, that will further damage American influence and credibility in the coming years and decades."

(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)




==
BAHRAINI TANKS AND ARMOURED PERSONNEL CARRIERS MOVE TOWARDS BUDA
16 Mar 2011 12:19

Source: reuters // Reuters


BAHRAINI TANKS AND ARMOURED PERSONNEL CARRIERS MOVE TOWARDS BUDAYA STREET, WHERE PROTEST IS EXPECTED -WITNESSES

===

Salaam un Alaykum;

Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayegani Condemns Atrocious Crimes of Bahrain Government:

http://www.saafi.net/node/5457

Severe Warning of Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani to Bahrani King and Saudi Aggressors:

http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=231677

Grand Ayatollah Jafar Sobhani urges OIC emergency meeting on Bahrain :

http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=231728

Najaf: Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Taghi Modarresi condemned the massacre of protesters against the ruling al-Khalifa family:

http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=231725

Bahraini Prominent Shia Clerics Warn of Massacre:

http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=231697



آیت اللہ شبخ عیسی قاسم کا فتوی "پرامن جدوجہد ختم؛ مقابلہ کرو"


http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=6&id=231553



40:22

دعاء الجوشن الصغير Dua Joshan Sagheer - Arabic

Please Recite Dua Joshan Sagheer for Bahraini Peaceful Civilians

بحرینی مظلومین کے لئے دعائے جوشن صغیر
بحرینی عوام کو آل خلیفہ اور آل السعود کے مظالم کا سامنا ہے اور ان کو آپ کی دعا چاہئے۔ بحرینی عوام بھی استغاثہ اور دعا و مناجات میں مصروف ہیں۔
http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=6&id=231623

===





===


Iran objects to foreign troops in Bahrain

15 Mar 2011 19:33

Source: reuters // Reuters


Saudi Arabian troops cross the causeway leading to Bahrain in this still image taken from video, Mar. 14, 2011. REUTERS/Bahrain state TV via Reuters TV
* Iran warns of regional crisis

* Summons Saudi, Swiss ambassadors

* Bahrain recalls its Iran envoy, criticises Tehran


(Adds quote on regional crisis paragraphs 6-7)

By Mitra Amiri

TEHRAN, March 15 (Reuters) - Iran warned Saudi Arabia and its ally Washington on Tuesday the deployment of foreign troops in Bahrain to help quell an uprising could pitch the region towards a crisis with "dangerous consequences".
In an escalating war of words, Bahrain condemned the comments and withdrew its ambassador to Iran for consultations.

About 1,000 Saudi soldiers entered Bahrain on Monday as part of an effort by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to help the island's Sunni Muslim elite cope with protests by members of the island's Shi'ite majority.

The move has alarmed Iran, the main Shi'ite power in the Gulf where most ruling families are Sunni Arabs. Analysts say Saudi Arabia's action might increase tensions with Iran -- both major oil exporters -- to dangerous levels.

"The presence of foreign forces and interference in Bahrain's internal affairs is unacceptable and will further complicate the issue," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said at his weekly news conference.

In telephone conversations with the foreign ministers of Turkey and Qatar and the secretary-general of the Arab League, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi warned the situation could spiral into a regional crisis, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"The worrying and unexpected interference of foreign troops in civil developments in different countries, including Bahrain, where people are peacefully pursuing their demands and legitimate rights, can take the region towards a crisis which would be followed by dangerous consequences," Salehi said.
Tehran said Washington was responsible for pushing its ally and oil supplier Saudi Arabia into getting involved in Bahrain, a small but important U.S. ally which is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

The Pentagon has said it was not given any advance notice that Saudi or other regional forces would deploy to Bahrain.


AMBASSADORS CALLED IN

Tehran summoned the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and of Switzerland, which represents U.S. interests in the absence of direct diplomatic relations.

"Iran considers the United States as responsible for the dangerous consequences of such an illegal move," the ISNA news agency quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying.

A Bahraini foreign ministry official said the spokesman's remarks represented a "blatant interference in Bahrain's internal affairs", and announced its Tehran envoy was being recalled, the state news agency BNA said.

Bahrain introduced martial law on Tuesday to try and end weeks of anti-government protests, with Saudi troops on hand to help quell the unrest.

Bahrain's Shi'ites have complained of discrimination by the Sunni royal family and intervention in Bahrain by Gulf Arab troops is highly sensitive.

Iran's parliament also condemned the Saudi deployment.

"The Saudi rulers' sending of troops to Bahrain will not only bring a halt to the Bahraini people's movement, but also will bring dangerous consequences for the illegitimate Saudi ruling regime," said a declaration signed by 257 lawmakers, carried by IRNA.

Iran, which has crushed its own opposition protests at home, has welcomed uprisings across the Arab Middle East as an "Islamic awakening" against despotic rulers.

Accusations abound of Iranian backing for activists among the Shi'ite majority in Bahrain, a charge Tehran has denied.

Mehmanparast dismissed as irrelevant a question about the possibility of Iran sending forces to Bahrain.

"Basically, we do not regard the presence and interference of other countries, especially the countries of the Persian Gulf region in the Bahrain issue, as correct," he said.

"Such interference and increasing suppression and violent confrontation is not the solution to the legitimate demands of the people."



========

Govt. forces assail marchers in Bahrain
Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:6AM
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Hundreds of Bahraini government forces have attacked demonstrators in the capital Manama, where anti-government protests against the ruling al-Khalifa family are continuing unabated.


On Wednesday morning, Bahraini police forces arrived in tanks and armored vehicle, and launched an assault on a group of protesters who had camped out the night before in Manama's Pearl Square, AFP reported.

The forces backed by the army helicopters could take over the square only moments later.

A group of armed men had earlier set fire to the tents of the protesters. Electricity and mobile phone are reportedly cut off to people in large parts of Manama as the political situation in Bahrain escalates further.

The attacks come two days after Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar dispatched their armed forces to crisis-hit Bahrain to quash anti-government protests in the tiny Persian Gulf state.

The move has concerned UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, calling for a meaningful and broad-based national dialogue.

The UN chief also urged Bahrain's regional neighbors and the international community to support a dialogue process and an environment conducive for credible reform in Bahrain.

Bahraini opposition groups, including the main bloc al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, denounced the move as an invasion of the kingdom.

The United States, which has its Fifth Fleet based there, has declined to term the troops' move into Bahrain as invasion.

Several people have lost their lives and hundreds of others have sustained injuries following the Bahraini government's violent crackdown on demonstrators.

On Tuesday, six people died and more than 1,000 others were wounded in clashes between anti-regime protesters and Bahrain's security forces.

Thousands of Bahraini anti-government protesters are still camping out in Manama's Pearl Square, which has become the symbol of the popular drive for change.

Demonstrators maintain that they will hold their ground until their demands for freedom, constitutional monarchy in the Persian Gulf sheikhdom and a say in the government are met.



==


'US may have OK'd Bahrain invasion'
Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:49PM
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Political analyst Sarah Marusek has suggested that Saudi Arabia and the other Arab countries that invaded Bahrain could have received a green light from Washington.


Marusek made the remarks in Beirut in an interview with Press TV.

She called the brutal crackdown on Bahraini protesters a “heinous act” and “incredibly disproportional” since the anti-regime demonstrators are only demanding their rights and are not carrying arms.
She stated that the situation was worse than Libya, where opposition forces are fighting back against troops and thugs loyal to Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi.

She criticized the invasion by military forces from [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council member states and described it as something “unheard of.”

She noted that the [P]GCC is supposed to be mostly concerned with economic issues and issues related to defense against foreign threats, and not killing protesters inside a country.

She went on to say that the use of foreign troops and mercenaries against anti-regime protesters is nothing new for Bahrain.

Manama has been recruiting foreign soldiers from Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere due to internal conflicts among its military forces since the beginning of the pro-reform demonstrations in February, she added.
Marusek suggested that Washington's silence about the invasion of Bahrain, given the US military action in response to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, could be a sign it is playing a role in orchestrating the incursion.
She also pointed out that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited Bahrain on Saturday, shortly before troops from Saudi Arabia and other neighboring Arab countries were sent to Bahrain.

Marusek noted that pressure from US President Barack Obama's administration made Bahrain withdraw its forces from Manama's flashpoint Pearl Square following an attack on sleeping protesters camping at the “Martyrs Turnabout.”

If the violence against peaceful demonstrators continues, it will only radicalize the protesters, who now have no alternative besides defending themselves, she observed.



===


Saudi soldier gunned down in Bahrain
Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:35PM
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Saudi troops drive into Bahrain from to quash anti-government protesters in Bahrain.A Saudi soldier has been killed in Bahrain clashes following an incursion by Arab armies to quell popular protests in the Persian Gulf state, sources say.


A Bahraini security official says the Saudi soldier was shot dead in Ma'ameer, Manama, from a Bahraini military helicopter hovering over the houses and randomly shooting at people.

Meanwhile, thousands of Bahraini protesters have staged a march to the Saudi embassy to protest deployment of Saudi troops in Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf Cooperation Council member states dispatched their armed forces to Bahrain in response to Manama's call for military help to quell public protests.

Clashes between military forces and Bahraini protesters also took the life of a young demonstrator in Sitar on Tuesday. The protester reportedly died of a serious head injury.

Meanwhile, new footage posted on YouTube shows Saudi troops attacking Bahraini protesters.

Reports say of dead bodies strewn in Sitar while the exact number of fatalities remains unclear.

However, sources in the capital's Salmaniya hospital have confirmed that up to 5 people have been killed in the unrest.

The United States, which has its Fifth Fleet based there, has declined to term the troops' move into Bahrain as incursion.

MRS/MGH
==

Bahrain's Shi'ite opposition condemns martial law
15 Mar 2011 16:11

Source: reuters // Reuters


MANAMA, March 15 (Reuters) - Bahrain's largest Shi'ite Muslim opposition group, Wefaq, condemned the Sunni-dominated government's decision to impose martial law on Tuesday and called for international intervention.

"There is nothing you can do. The army is in control of society now," said Jasim Hussein, a Wefaq politician.

"We condemn this and call on the international community to live up to its responsibilities."
(Reporting by Frederik Richter and Lin Noueihed)



==

BAHRAINI MAN KILLED IN CLASHES IN SHIITE MUSLIM TOWN OF SITRA - OPPOSITION MP

Bahrain declares martial law, protests flair
15 Mar 2011 15:27

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Bahrain TV says state of emergency to last 3 months

* Bahraini man, policeman killed in clashes

* Iran condemns Saudi intervention, Bahrain recalls envoy

(Adds embassy protest, policeman dead, US comment, colour)

By Lin Noueihed and Frederik Richter

MANAMA, March 15 (Reuters) - Bahrain declared martial law on Tuesday as it struggles to quell an uprising by the island's Shi'ite Muslim majority that has drawn in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled neighbour Saudi Arabia.

The three-month state of emergency will hand wholesale power to Bahrain's security forces, which are dominated by the country's Sunni Muslim elite, stoking sectarian tensions in one of the Gulf's most politically volatile nations.

In a sign of continued disturbances in the tiny kingdom, an opposition politician said a Bahraini man was killed and several wounded in clashes with police in the Shi'ite area of Sitra.

State television said a Bahraini policeman was also killed in clashes, refuting some reports that a Saudi soldier had died.
The United States, a close ally of both Bahrain and Saudi, said it was concerned about reports of growing sectarianism in the country, which is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, and warned that violence from any side would make matters worse.

"One thing is clear: there is no military solution to the problems in Bahrain," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

"A political solution is necessary and all sides must now work to produce a dialogue that addresses the needs of all of Bahrain's citizens," he added, speaking in Washington.

Local television and activists showed gruesome footage of wounded civilians, but it was difficult to pin down precise numbers of casualties as rumours spread across electronic media.

"In order for the situation to return to normal we have to establish order and security and ... stop the violations which have spread disturbances among the people of our dear country," Interior Minister Sheikh Rashed al-Khalifa said in television address, calling on Bahrainis to cooperate with security forces.

It was not clear if a curfew would be imposed or whether there would be any clampdown on media or public gathering. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

More on Middle East unrest: [nTOPMEAST] [nLDE71O2CH] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>


SAUDI ANXIETY

On Monday, more than 1,000 Saudi troops rolled into the kingdom in a long convoy of armoured vehicles at the request of Bahrain's Sunni rulers, flashing victory signs as they crossed the causeway that connects the two oil producers.

The United Arab Emirates said it also would send 500 police.

Analysts saw the troop movement into Bahrain as a mark of concern in Saudi Arabia that concessions by the country's monarchy could inspire the conservative Sunni-ruled kingdom's own Shi'ite minority.

Over 60 percent of Bahrainis are Shi'ites who complain of discrimination at the hands of the Sunni royal family. Calls for the overthrow of the monarchy have alarmed the Sunni minority, which fears that unrest could serve non-Arab Shi'ite power Iran.

Iran, which sits across the Gulf from Bahrain, sharply criticised the Saudi intervention.

"The presence of foreign forces and interference in Bahrain's internal affairs is unacceptable and will further complicate the issue," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said at his weekly news conference in Tehran.
A Bahraini foreign ministry official called the remarks a "blatant interference in Bahrain's internal affairs," the state news agency BNA said, adding that Manama had recalled its ambassador to Iran for consultations.

In a sign that neither side would back down, thousands marched to the Saudi embassy to protest against intervention.

"People are angry we want this occupation to end. We don't want anybody to help the al-Khalifa or us," said a protester who gave his name as Salman, referring to the ruling family.


SECTARIAN CLASHES

Bahrain has been gripped by its worst unrest since the 1990s after protesters took to the streets last month, inspired by uprisings that toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.

Unlike those countries, where the mainly Sunni populations united against the regime, Bahrain is split along sectarian lines, raising the risk of a slide into civil conflict.

Violent clashes between youths wielding clubs, knives and rocks have become daily occurrences, forcing Bahrain University and many schools to close in order to avoid further trouble.

Demonstrators camped out at Pearl roundabout, the focal point of weeks of unrest, were defiant on Saudi intervention.

"We reject this intervention and we consider it occupation. Any foreign intervention to crush the people is occupation," said Akeel Jaber, an activist at the roundabout.


The United States has urged Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter and a key U.S. ally in the Gulf Arab region, to show restraint, though analysts said the escalation showed the limits of U.S. influence when internal security was threatened.

The United Nations echoed those calls for restraint.

In a sign that security could deteriorate, the U.S. State Department advised against all travel to Bahrain due to a "breakdown in law and order."

Underlining the growing tensions, armed youths attacked the printing press of Bahrain's only opposition newspaper Al Wasat overnight in an effort to stop its publication.

Metal barricades and piles of sand and rocks blocked the main thoroughfare to the financial district and most shops in Bahrain were shut. At checkpoints near the roundabout, activists asked to see identity papers and waved cars through.

"We are staying peacefully. Even if they attack we are peacefully," said Ali Mansoor, an activist at the roundabout.

"Saudi Arabia has no right to come to Bahrain. Our problem is with the government not Saudi Arabia."

Around Bahrain, residents have placed skips, bins and pieces of metal on the road, to prevent strangers from entering their neighbourhoods. Young men, some wearing masks and carrying sticks, guarded the entrances to their areas. (Additional reporting by Robin Pomeroy in Iran, Firouz Sedarat in Dubai and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva) (Editing by Crispian Balmer)



===


BREAKINGVIEWS-Saudi's Bahrain intervention raises investor risk
15 Mar 2011 10:06

Source: reuters // Reuters


By Hugo Dixon and Una Galani

CAIRO, March 15 (Reuters Breakingviews) - The presence of Saudi troops in the small kingdom can only inflame Bahrain's majority Shi'ite population. Even if protests are ultimately suppressed, the United States will be embarrassed, Iran may cause mischief and trouble could spread elsewhere. Full view will be published shortly.


<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Get Breakingviews alerts directly to your inbox three times a day. To sign up click here: http://online.thomsonreuters.com/3000XtraBVRegistration


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>


CONTEXT NEWS

-- Reuters story: Iran angered by Bahrain move; US worried by troubles [ID:nLDE72E02N]

-- The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own --

-- For previous columns by the authors, Reuters customers can click on [GALANI/] and [DIXON/]

(Editing by Pierre Briançon and David Evans)



===

MANAMA:
A Pakistani man was brutally murdered by protestors in Bahrain, while four others were wounded in a separate attack on Sunday, reported the Express 24/7.

Thirty-year-old Abdul Malik was on his way to buy food when he was fatally attacked Sunday evening in Manama. The Pakistani embassy in Bahrain has confirmed his death. Pakistanis living in Manama claim Malik was killed by protestors.

In a separate incident, four Pakistanis sustained stab wounds after confrontation with an armed youth in Naim. The Pakistani community in Bahrain has demanded protection following these incidents of violence.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2011.



===

Peninsula Shield Force: Gulf troops move in as Bahrain protests escalate
By AFP
Published: March 15, 2011
A television grab taken from a Bahraini TV channel shows a contingent of Gulf troops arriving across a causeway from Saudi Arabia. PHOTO: AFP

MANAMA:
Armoured troops rolled into Bahrain from neighbouring Saudi Arabia on Monday to help restore order in the strategic Gulf kingdom, where pro-democracy demonstrators have shut down the financial centre.

Thousands of protesters occupied Manama’s business district, turning the regional banking hub into a ghost town as they pressed their calls for democratic reform by the monarchy.

The Saudi government said it had responded to a call for help from its neighbour as Saudi-led forces from the Gulf countries’ joint Peninsula Shield Force crossed the causeway separating the two countries.

“The council of ministers has confirmed that it has answered a request by Bahrain for support,” the Saudi government said in a statement carried by the SPA state news agency.

It said that under an agreement of the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), “any harm done to the security of a member state is considered a harm done to the security of all members.”

The Saudi contingent is made up of 1,000 soldiers while the United Arab Emirates also confirmed it was participating in the operation.

The United Arab Emirates has sent around 500 police officers into Bahrain to calm protests, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan said on Monday. “Other Gulf countries will also participate to get calm and order in Bahrain,” Sheikh Abdullah told a news briefing ahead of a Group of Eight foreign ministers meeting in Paris. “Bahrain has asked us to look at ways to defuse the tension.”

Television footage showed convoys of unmarked, desert-brown coloured armoured vehicles crossing the causeway from Saudi’s Eastern Province into Bahrain, the home of the US Fifth Fleet.

The Shia-led opposition alliance said any foreign force would be treated as an invading army.

“We consider the arrival of any soldier, or military vehicle, into Bahraini territory… an overt occupation of the kingdom of Bahrain and a conspiracy against the unarmed people of Bahrain,” said an opposition statement.

Helicopters buzzed overhead as protesters blocked access roads to the Financial Harbour business complex, a day after more than 200 people were injured there in clashes between riot police and demonstrators.

Sunday was the worst day of violence in the tiny Gulf kingdom since seven people were killed at the start of anti-regime unrest a month ago.

Police appeared to have deserted the area, while shopping malls and office towers were closed.

Protesters persisted with a sit-in at nearby Pearl Square, where activists were readying for a showdown with the security forces.

Most workers seemed to be following a trade union call for a general strike to protest against violence by the security forces.

Meanwhile, the US warned Gulf states on Monday to respect the rights of the people of Bahrain, after troops from nations including Saudi Arabia crossed into the violence-wracked kingdom.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said that the White House was aware that Saudi Arabia had sent security forces to Bahrain and that other Gulf Cooperation Council nations were also planning such steps.

“We urge our GCC partners to show restraint and respect the rights of the people of Bahrain, and to act in a way that supports dialogue instead of undermining it,” Vietor said.

The Saudi intervention comes two days after US Defence Secretary Robert Gates visited Manama and urged King Hamad to undertake rapid and significant democratic reform, not just “baby steps.”

Gates told reporters after the talks that Washington was concerned that the longer the instability dragged on the more likely Iran was to try to meddle in Bahrain’s affairs.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2011.


===
US says told, not consulted, on Saudi Bahrain force
15 Mar 2011 00:39

Source: reuters // Reuters


PARIS, March 14 (Reuters) - The United States was informed about Saudi forces entering Bahrain just before they did so, but was not consulted on the move, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.

"We were informed just before -- not consulted," the official from U.S. President Barack Obama's administration told reporters in Paris.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Michael Roddy)

==
US urges restraint by Gulf nations in Bahrain15 Mar 2011 03:21

Source: reuters // Reuters


* U.S. says Saudi deployment 'not an invasion'

* Bahrain move signals new hard line, analyst says

* U.S. sees no evidence Iran is instigating unrest (Updates with State Department comment, paragraph 7)

By Andrew Quinn and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON, March 14 (Reuters) - The United States urged Saudi Arabia on Monday to show restraint after it sent troops to neighboring Bahrain in a move some analysts said showed the limits of Washington's influence in the region.

The deployment of 1,000 Saudi troops, at the request of Bahrain's Sunni royal family, came two days after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the island kingdom and pressed its rulers to implement political reforms to defuse tensions with the Shi'ite Muslim majority.

The Pentagon said neither Gates nor Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who also recently visited Bahrain, had been given any indication that Saudi or other forces from the region would deploy to Bahrain.

The United States, which fears Shi'ite Iran could try to exploit the instability in Bahrain, was cautious in its response to the troop deployment, neither criticizing nor explicitly welcoming it.

"This is not an invasion of a country," White House spokesman Jay Carney said after Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Gulf governments sent troops and police to the tiny kingdom hit by spreading Shi'ite unrest.

Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Pentagon had "communicated to all parties our concern regarding actions that could be provocative or inflame sectarian tensions."

The State Department sought to spread responsibility between the government of Bahrain and protesters. "Just as Bahrain gov't must show restraint and respect universal rights, members of opposition also must refrain from instigating violence," the State Department said in a message on Twitter late on Monday.

In Paris, a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity told reporters that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had told the United Arab Emirates' foreign minister that Washington believed the solution in Bahrain must come from credible political reform, and not from a military outcome.

The official spoke after talks with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan in Paris, where Clinton was participating in a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Eight powers.

The turmoil in Bahrain, a small but important U.S. ally and home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, comes as Washington struggles to formulate a strategy in response to political unrest that has already toppled U.S.-allied governments in Egypt and Tunisia, led to violent protests in Yemen and a bloody rebellion against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Saudi Arabia, whose Sunni ruling dynasty is closely allied both with Bahrain's royal family and with the United States, sent a column of armored troop carriers into Bahrain on Monday to protect government facilities after mainly Shi'ite protesters overran police and blocked roads. [ID:nLDE72D0KH]

"We urge the government of Bahrain, as we have repeatedly, as well as other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, to exercise restraint," Carney said. The GCC comprises the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

BAHRAIN REJECTING U.S. ADVICE?

Political analysts said the Saudi military move suggested Bahrain's royal family had rejected U.S. pleas to work with protesters demanding reforms.

"What this means is that the government of Bahrain has decided to take a hard line," said Marina Ottaway, head of the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank in Washington.

"There has been a struggle in terms of policy advice between U.S. and Saudi Arabia. ... The U.S. has been trying to get the Bahraini government to respond by negotiation, by reform and by dialogue. The Saudis have been saying that they have to put the uprising down. They have decided to listen to the Saudis."


The United Arab Emirates said it was sending about 500 police to help maintain order, and other neighbors including Oman and Kuwait were considering sending at least token forces to support the intervention, diplomats said.

European and U.S. national security officials said the Saudi troops may be used to patrol the streets in Bahrain. Political analysts said it was a signal Saudi Arabia would not tolerate a Shi'ite overthrow of Bahrain's monarchy.
Saudi Arabia has faced small protests by Shi'ite residents in its own Eastern Province, source of much of the wealth of the world's No. 1 oil producer, and wants to make clear the limits of political change, analysts said.

"They are clearly sending a signal to Bahrain protesters that you better moderate your expectations or else there's going to be bloodshed," said Ken Pollack, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

"What the Saudis are saying (to the United States) is: 'We care about this more than you do and we will do what is necessary to protect our interests in Bahrain. And we expect you to respect our greater interests in Bahrain."
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Patricia Zengerle and David Alexander, and Arshad Mohammed in Paris; Editing by Ross Colvin and Peter Cooney)

==

Saudi sends troops, Bahrain Shi'ites call it "war"14 Mar 2011 13:25

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Shi'ite groups call troop entry declaration of war

* Pro-govt papers say troops to protect strategic facilities

(Adds Saudi troops, opposition quotes, protester quote)

By Lin Noueihed and Frederik Richter

MANAMA, March 14 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia sent troops into Bahrain on Monday to help put down weeks of protests by the Shi'ite Muslim majority, a move opponents of the Sunni ruling family on the island called a declaration of war.

Analysts saw the troop movement as a mark of concern in Saudi Arabia that political concessions by Bahrain's monarchy could embolden the Saudi kingdom's own Shi'ite minority.

About 1,000 Saudi soldiers entered Bahrain to protect government facilities, a Saudi official source said, a day after mainly Shi'ite protesters overran police and blocked roads.

"They are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) force that would guard the government installations," the source said, referring to the six-member bloc that coordinates military and economic policy in the world's top oil-exporting region.

Witnesses said the 25-km (16-mile) causeway between the two countries was closed and tanks were rolling across to Bahrain, a key U.S. ally and home of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Analysts and diplomats say the largest contingent in any GCC force would come from Saudi Arabia, which is already worried an uprising by Bahrain's Shi'ites may inspire restive Shi'ites in its own Eastern Province, the centre of the oil industry.

Bahraini opposition groups including the largest Shi'ite party Wefaq said the move was an attack on defenceless citizens.

"We consider the entry of any soldier or military machinery into the Kingdom of Bahrain's air, sea or land territories a blatant occupation," they said in a statement.

"This real threat about the entry of Saudi and other Gulf forces into Bahrain to confront the defenceless Bahraini people puts the Bahraini people in real danger and threatens them with an undeclared war by armed troops."

The reports come after Bahraini police clashed on Sunday with mostly Shi'ite demonstrators in one of the most violent confrontations since troops killed seven protesters last month.

After trying to push back demonstrators for several hours, police backed away and youths built barricades across the highway to the main financial district of the Gulf banking hub.

Those barricades were still up on Monday morning, with protesters checking cars at the entrance to the Pearl roundabout, the focal point of weeks of protests. On the other side of the same highway, police set up a roadblock preventing any cars moving from the airport towards the harbour.

Police were out in force in some areas but there was no evidence of soldiers, Bahraini or otherwise in Manama.

"We will never leave. This is our country," said Abdullah, a protester, when asked if Saudi troops would stop them. "Why should we be afraid? We are not afraid in our country."

SECTARIAN CONFLICT

Bahrain has been gripped by its worst unrest since the 1990s after protesters took to the streets last month, inspired by uprisings that toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.

Any intervention by Gulf Arab troops in Bahrain is highly sensitive on the island, where the Shi'ite Muslim majority complains of discrimination by the Sunni Muslim royal family.

Most Gulf Arab ruling families are Sunni and intervention could be seen by local Shi'ites as an assault. This, in turn, might encourage intervention by non-Arab Iran, the main Shi'ite power in the region. Accusations already abound of Iranian backing for Shi'ite activists in Bahrain -- charges they deny.

"Shi'ites in states with large Shi'ite populations, in particular Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, may intensify their own local anti-regime demonstrations," said Ghanem Nuseibeh, partner at consultancy Cornerstone Global.

"The Bahraini unrest could potentially turn into regional sectarian violence that goes beyond the borders of the particular states concerned."

In a sign that the opposition and the royals may find an 11th hour solution, the opposition groups said they had met the crown prince to discuss the mechanism for national dialogue.

Crown Prince Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa offered assurances on Sunday that dialogue would address key opposition demands including giving parliament more power and reforming government and electoral districts.

Even if talks are successful however, the opposition is increasingly split and hardline groups may keep up protests.

Wefaq is calling for a new government and a constitutional monarchy that vests the judicial, executive and legislative authority with the people. A coalition of much smaller Shi'ite parties are calling for the overthrow of the monarchy -- demands that scare Sunnis who fear this would benefit Iran.

Thousands of protesters still occupy Pearl roundabout. Seven people were killed early in the protests, when troops opened fire and cleared the roundabout. Washington has since urged restraint.

Speaking in Riyadh on Sunday, GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman al-Attiyah said that ensuring security and stability in any Gulf Arab country was the responsibility of the whole bloc.

In an apparent reference to Iran, however, he said the GCC rejected foreign meddling in Bahrain and that any effort to destabilise the country was a "dangerous encroachment on the security and stability" of the whole region. (Additional reporting by Ulf Laessing in Riyadh) (Editing by Samia Nakhoul)




===
Kuwaitis protest to demand the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah step down.Several hundred protesters have poured into the streets of Kuwait to demand the removal of the incumbent prime minister along with political reforms in the Persian Gulf state.


On Tuesday evening, around 1,000 people gathered in a car park they named "The Square of Change" in front of a government building and called on 71-year-old Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah to leave office, Reuters reported.

The demonstrators carried a large banner which read "A new government, with a new prime minister, with a new approach," and chanted in Arabic, "The people want corruption to go" and "Leave, leave Nasser.”

Tuesday's protests had been organized by the youth groups, Kafi (Enough) and al-Soor al-Khames (Fifth Fence). They presented a challenge to the Kuwaiti government, which bans demonstrations without prior permission.

The demonstrations come on the crest of a recent tidal wave of anti-government protests that has raced across the Middle East, originating with revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, which have swept longstanding autocratic rulers from power.

The Kuwaiti premier, a nephew of the ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, was appointed in early 2006. He has fought parliamentary opposition since his appointment and survived two non-cooperation motions.

Five of his six cabinets have been forced to resign, while the parliament has been dissolved three times.


===========
Hardline Shi'ite groups demand republic in Bahrain08 Mar 2011 17:33

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Three hardline groups call for end to monarchy

* Joining to create new republican movement

* Groups are smaller than main opposition Wefaq

(Adds analyst, Wefaq)

By Lin Noueihed

MANAMA, March 8 (Reuters) - Three hardline Bahraini Shi'ite groups said on Tuesday they had formed a coalition aimed at toppling the Sunni monarchy and setting up a republic, raising tensions days ahead of a planned march on the royal court.

The move is likely to be seen as an escalation by the ruling al-Khalifa dynasty and raises the chances of a renewed security crackdown against mainly Shi'ite Muslim protesters.

The new "Coalition for a Republic", made up of Al Haq, Wafa and the Freedom movement, called for peaceful change through a decentralised movement of civil disobedience and resistance.

Consisting of groups much smaller than the main opposition Wefaq movement, the new coalition risks splitting the broader Shi'ite opposition movement that is demanding an elected government and a true constitutional monarchy, as well as better access to jobs within the system.

"This tripartite coalition adopts the choice of bringing down the existing regime in Bahrain and establishing a democratic republican system," Haq leader
Hassan Mushaimaa told reporters at Pearl roundabout, where protesters are camped out.

"The monarchy has failed to bring down the revolution by force, and it now aims ... to co-opt its legitimate demands through murky political games and ... by inciting chaos."

No stranger to sporadic protests and rioting, Bahrain has been gripped by the worst unrest since the 1990s after a youth movement took to the streets last month, emboldened by revolutions that toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.

Seven were killed in an ensuing clampdown by security forces early in the protests, but the situation has since calmed.

The majority of Bahrainis are Shi'ites but the island, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, is ruled by the U.S.-backed al-Khalifa family, who are Sunnis.

The outcome in Bahrain is being closely watched in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, where Shi'ites make up about 15 percent of the population and which has seen small protests.

Risks of instability there would soar if the opposition in Bahrain toppled the ruling al-Khalifa family, analysts said.


ESCALATION

Al Haq has questioned the legitimacy of the ruling family before and the government has repeatedly arrested its leaders in recent years, including during a security crackdown last August.

But Mushaimaa and other Al Haq leaders were pardoned by King Hamad after the protests erupted in Bahrain last month, and Mushaimaa returned from exile in London on Feb. 26.

Thousands are still camped out in Manama's Pearl roundabout, many demanding the ouster of the royal family. Bahrain's Wefaq, which draws larger support than the new coalition and the youth movement, is more moderate.

Wefaq has called only for the resignation of the government and a constitutional monarchy that cedes more power to the people.

Wefaq won 18 seats in parliament in recent elections, but complains the elected lower house can be overruled by an upper house appointed by the king. Wefaq's deputies quit after the protests began but the bloc has not joined in calling for a republic.

"The key thing is to create a constitutional assembly now and hold free elections. This will be the only serious move to end this political crisis," said Khalil Marzooq, a Wefaq deputy.

The government has made a number of concessions to the opposition since unrest started, including a limited cabinet reshuffle and the release of political prisoners.

The Crown Prince has offered dialogue, but opposition groups have set conditions for talks that include the sacking of the cabinet.

Shadi Hamid, analyst from the Brookings Centre in Doha, said that the unrest in Bahrain would not end any time soon.

"This is really a reflection of the Bahraini government's failure to deal with these protests in an effective manner," he said, adding the government had not made any serious moves toward reforms or started dialogue with the opposition.

"We know that the Saudis are going to do whatever they can to back the Khalifa family and the absolute last thing they want to see is talk about the monarchy ending and a republic being the new form of government."
(Additional reporting by Erika Solomon in Dubai and Frederik Richter in Manama, Editing by Samia Nakhoul and Sonya Hepinstall)




==========
Bahraini troops raid protesters' camp

Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:24AM
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The monument at Pearl Square in Manama February 24Bahraini troops have raided the protest camp in Pearl Square in Manama, the night before a massive rally was planned by protesters to commemorate what they described as the martyrs of Bahrain's uprising.


The troops attacked the protesters Friday night as they were asleep.

Bahrainis are due to swarm the capital's main square on Friday to commemorate the death of those shot by government troops during recent pro-democracy protest rallies.

At least seven people have been killed in 11 consecutive days of popular protests, calling for the ouster of the Al-Khalifa dynasty, which has ruled the country for over 200 years.

The Persian Gulf island's leading Shia clerics have called on the masses to rally in Pearl Square on Friday to "mourn the martyrs," AFP reported on Wednesday.

The Shias enjoy demographic predominance in the kingdom. They, however, have long complained about being discriminated against by the Sunni-led government when it comes to employment opportunities and the right to services.

From August to October, when the country held parliamentary polls, the monarchy arrested more than 250 Shias, accusing 23 of them of plotting a coup and provoking "violence, rioting and terrorism."

The arrests were interpreted as part of Manama's plans to rig the election.

The public, enraged by the government's brutal attempts to suppress the protests, has set up a tent city in the square -- which they now call the “Martyrs' Roundabout” -- camping out for the past five nights to persist on their demands.




=============

Thousands of demonstrators form an enormous 'human chain' around the capital Manama as protests continue against the rule of the monarchy.


Protesters joined hands to encircle the capital as the nation enters its third week of protests, The Daily Express reported.

No police presence was reported during the peaceful demonstration. Organizers reported that some of the Sunnis, which constitute a minority in Bahrain, joined Saturday's event.

Protesters have accused the government of discriminatory policies and political persecution.

Friday saw an estimated 100,000 demonstrators in the capital's financial district following the Friday Prayers. Protesters then marched towards Pearl Square, the epicenter of the movement demanding the government to step down.

It was the largest demonstration since protests erupted in the kingdom almost three weeks ago.

Several thousands of demonstrators also rallied outside Bahrain's state television building, in Madinat Isa, on Friday. They accused the television of promoting sectarian violence.

On Thursday, forces loyal to the monarchy clashed with protesters, leaving at least a dozen people injured.

In a move to mitigate the unrest, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has offered a series of concessions including releasing political prisoners, reshuffling the cabinet and reducing the monthly housing costs of citizens by 25 percent.

Opposition groups continue to demand major reforms and the establishment of a "real constitutional monarchy,” as well as the resignation of the government which they hold responsible for the killing of peaceful demonstrators.

The Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty has ruled the Persian Gulf island nation for almost two centuries.

==

ANALYSIS-Radicalism has little role in Bahrain uprising23 Feb 2011 20:05

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Protesters display nationalist, not Shi'ite, imagery

* Egypt's lessons of peaceful protest taking root


By Cynthia Johnston

DUBAI, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Bahrain's young, angry and Shi'ite protesters have learned a lesson: peaceful demonstrations are a more powerful weapon than religion-fuelled rage.

From their Pearl Square tent camp, the protesters have made Bahrain's national flag the symbol of their uprising. They alternate hardline slogans demanding the fall of the monarchy with chants of "Peaceful, Peaceful".

It was the same chant heard on the streets of Cairo, the same clarion call that brought down the three-decade rule of Hosni Mubarak without spiralling into chaotic violence.

Even as protesters bemoan(To express grief over; lament.
) discrimination -- a top Shiite complaint -- that has denied them jobs and services in favour of minority Sunnis, they also have kept Shiite imagery off the streets and welcomed sympathetic Sunnis into their fold.

"These are not very religious protests. I am very startled by the lack of religiosity in these protests as opposed to if you go to places like Lebanon or Iraq. They are taking a very secular Western approach," Barak Barfi of the New America Foundation said.

"A lot of them are willing to die for their cause and to be martyred. And they are willing to rush security forces. But I don't see them using violence at this point," he said."People here are not radicals."


Seven people have died and scores more wounded as Shi'ite protesters took to the streets last week to demand an elected government in the tiny Gulf Arab island where a Sunni king rules a Shi'ite majority.

Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, is seen by Western and Arab allies as a bulwark against the influence of nearby Shi'ite power Iran. Saudi Arabia is concerned unrest in Bahrain might spread to its own Shi'ite minority.

Yet the protests, which pose the greatest challenge yet to the ruling al-Khalifa family, have been largely led by educated Web-savvy youth who seem largely disconnected from the country's more traditionally conservative Shi'ite opposition groups.

They complain that widespread Shi'ite unrest of the 1990s, characterised by low level violence, that prompted the king to introduce a new constitution, did not bring enough results. So they have taken a new tack.

"What we are seeing around the region in copycat now is very much focusing on peaceful protesting whenever possible," said Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Centre. "People realise that this kind of unarmed peaceful protest is much more effective."

SECTARIAN UNDERTONES

The crown prince has offered dialogue, removing the army from the streets, allowing protests and freeing prisoners. But the monarchy has yet to persuade the opposition it is serious about constitutional reforms, and no one has gone to the table.

"This is about the young people... Now it is our turn," said Hussein Habib, an activist with the Feb. 14 Youth, as protest organisers have come to be called.

The young activists, who like to say they are all "leaders of the revolution", profess willingness to walk in front of tanks to get their demands and have adopted the language of peaceful civil disobedience.

"The thing about violence is that all it takes is just on the hand to throw something or another and the whole place would go up in flames because everybody is just waiting for that catalyst either to enflame the situation or calm it down," said Bahrain blogger Mahmood al-Yousif.

Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa has said the protesters represented a significant proportion of society, but also has suggested that "other forces" were at work and said he wanted to avoid descending into sectarianism or militia warfare.

Analysts said that while Bahraini Shi'ites, whether in the youth or opposition, may admire Iran or even the Lebanese Hezbollah group because of religious affinities, they did not see them as a model.

"Their loyalties don't lie with Iran," Barfi said.

Funeral-goers at the burial of those who died chanted slogans declaring those who died were martyrs for Bahrain, not just for Shi'ites. While an Islamic banner draped the shrouded corpse of one of the first dead, for later funerals the bodies were draped in the red and white Bahraini flag.

Yet one Shi'ite activist, angry after police had killed four people in a pre-dawn raid on Pearl Square, said the "bin Laden option" was all the government would listen to, referring to the Sunni leader of al Qaeda. But he stopped well short of suggesting it as an option.

Another suggested activists could go underground. But once the army and police pulled back from the square, and calm returned to the streets, such talk faded.

(Writing by Cynthia Johnston; editing by Michael Roddy)




====================


http://www.bahrainprimeminister.net/

The on-going USraeli crimes unify Arabs

For a long time, the 400 million Arabs living in 22 countries from Mauritania to Oman have given up hope on their unelected leaders for ignoring the national interests, for corrupting the people, for using ruthless means to remain in power and for serving USraeli designs. The American march on Baghdad to Israeli drums, which was supported by most Arab leaders, was a wake up call to Arab youth who rushed to Iraq helping the Iraqi resistance and carrying out heroic attacks on the occupiers and on their foreign and local mercenaries. Thousands of young Arab young men made the ultimate sacrifice in solidarity with their fellow Iraqis and were buried in unmarked graves through out Iraq. It was the real manifestation of Arab unity written with blood. The Americans and their advisors didn’t make much out of it except labelling them as terrorists and blaming Syria for allowing them to enter US-occupied ‘free’ Iraq.
Neither the Israelis nor their American mentors paid any attention to Arab people frustration and continued to commit more crimes (e.g Abu Ghraib), to launch wars (Gaza and Lebanon), assassination of Iraqi scientists and Palestinian (Al-Mabhuh) and Lebanese leaders (Imad Maghnia). The blind Americans and their Israeli killing machine should blame themselves and no-one else for the current unified Arab stand against USraeli Arab agents-in-government in North Africa and in the Middle East. After the current dust has settled, one may expect a tendency toward political unification of the various Arab lands starting in North Africa and moving to the Middle East; which will likely to send shivers through the Israeli bones.

I am a secular Muslim Arab. In contrast to what Americans think, Islam is a progressive religion. It recognises Moses Judaism and Jesus Christianity. Almost 85% of the Quraan is an updated biblical and Talmudic teachings and events.Islam recognised 25 holy prophets from Adam to Mohammed.Unlike Judaism which preaches that the Jews are God's preffered creatures, Islam believes that all creatures are equal. While no Jew is called Jeus and no Christian is called Mohammed, Moslem names include Moses, Joseph, Abraham, Adam, Mary, Noah and Jesus. In my family I have a sister called Mary, a brother named Mohammed and another called Moses. Christian Arab Scholars and Bishops have helped to maintain the Arabic language during 450 years of Turkish Ottoman Empire. There are a large number of Iraqi Jewish scholars and poets.

President Truman recognised Israel 38 minutes after its creation by David Ben Guorion on May 15 1948. Furthermore, the Americans forced the Germans to pay war reparation to Israel although no German has attacked Israel; as it was not there to start with. No compensation was paid to the Russians for losing 24 million people and the destruction of 30000 towns. In this regard, the families of homosexuals, communists, 'misfits' or democrats killed by the Nazis received no compensation either. Only Jews, God's prefrred people, were compensated.

Gheddafi's son bribed the Americans by accepting responsibility for PAN AM disaster over lockerbie, although Libya was not the real culprit. Gheddafi was never an anti-American and was dreaming of an invitation to the Whitehouse. As to Israel, he was calling for the establishment of 'Isratine' and considered both Palestinians and Israelis as being stupid.



Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times



Americans should be happy while Arabs sideline Al-Qaeda
A tribal man in Yemen is quoted as saying “If President Abdullah Saleh remains in power we need Al-Qaeda to defeat him. But if he leaves, there is no need for Al-Qaeda” As a matter of fact, the senior Al-Qaeda men came from countries ruled by corrupt pro-USraeli autocrats. Usama Bin Laden, Dr Aymen Al-Zawahiri and Abu Musaab Al-Zarqawi came from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, respectively. If the US state department has one, non-Jewish advisor correctly connecting the dots, he would recommend an effective anti-terror measure starting with dismantling pro-USraeli Arab autocrats; Kings, Military dictators, Sultans, Sheikhs, and Emirs, and blaming them for the production of terrorists. In the meantime, Arabs should be grateful to US-supported Israeli atrocities as it helped to unify them from Morocco to Oman. What is happening on the ground in Arabia right now is a real revolution against those who undermined and insulted Arabs. Let the stupid Americans continue their humiliation and insult of Arabs whenever they try to enter their country. Arabs will do exactly the same. The current uprisings in the Arab world will establish democracy, and force the Israelis and their American mentors to abide by international laws and human right conventions.
Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times







====

Listen!


============


February 21, 2011

1:20pm Exiled opposition figure Hassan Mashaima told AFP he would return to Manama, as protesters gear up for a rally they hope will bring tens of thousands to the central Pearl roundabout.

"I have decided to return to my country," said Mashaima, a Shia based in London who faces charges of terrorism in his native Bahrain.

In a telephone call from the British capital, Mashaima said he would land in Manama on Tuesday at around 1600 GMT and had "no guarantees" he would not be arrested on arrival.

"But under the current circumstances, I cannot remain outside my country," he added.

Mashaima is the leader of the opposition Haq movement, or the Movement of Liberties and Democracy.


5:29am Hundreds of protesters in Bahrain woke on Monday morning after another night spent camped out at the Pearl roundabout.

Dozens of tents have been erected for sleeping, but some people slept on the ground, covered in piles of blankets to protect against the chill night air. The mood is upbeat. Protester Hossain Kasar has spent the past two nights camped at the monument.

"I'm feeling happy" he said at sunrise on Monday morning, "but all the people of Bahrain, they don't want the government of Bahrain." he added.

5:11am The opposition wants Bahrain's rulers to guarantee they will back up their conciliatory words with actions, a Shia leader said as he and other activists weighed the regime's offer for talks after nearly a week of protests and deadly clashes.

The streets of Manama were calmer on Sunday as efforts shifted toward political haggling over demands the monarchy give up its near-absolute control over key policies and positions.

1:15am US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Saudi Arabia's foreign minister have agreed to support a proposed dialogue between the Bahraini government and its opponents, the State Department says.

Clinton discussed the unrest in Bahrain in a telephone call with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said on Twitter:"They agreed to support Bahrain's dialogue with all its citizens

7:31pm Protesters gather in a central Manama square clamouring for immediate political change as Bahrain's opposition parties meet to discuss demands they will present to Bahrain's rulers.

3:15pm The United States condemns any attempt by Bahraini security forces to crack down on peaceful protests, US Secretary of States Hillary Clinton says.

"We've been very clear from the beginning that we do not want to see any violence. We deplore it. We think it is absolutely unacceptable," Clinton told the ABC News program This Week, according to a transcript released by the network. She stopped short of calling for regime change.

12:17pm Al Jazeera's online producer in Bahrain says the atmosphere at Pearl Roundabout is similar to that of Egypt's Tahrir Square, a big sleepover camp.





February 20, 2011

11:50pm As we move into Monday morning, we'll be bringing the live blog to a close shortly. We'll be continuing our coverage tomorrow, but there's much more on the Bahrain protests at http://english.aljazeera.net. Thanks for staying with us.

11:17pm Formula One's season-opening grand prix in Bahrain could be in jeopardy as newly emboldened protesters in Manama call for the royal family to scrap what they see as a costly vanity project, though the race also is the Gulf island's premier international event.

9:28pm Al Jazeera's James Bays says the opposition are being discouraged from entering into talks with Bahrain's government:

"The protesters are determined to make this a permanent place of protest. A day after the army and police withdrew, the area around Pearl Roundabout has become a tented city, with free food, water and electricity.

"The protesters are pitching camp - and they say they won't leave until they get what they want.

"The government says it is opening a dialogue with the people. But one opposition politician - visiting the roundabout - was told very clearly that he should not enter into any negotiatiations.

"Any politician who talks to the royal family, he was told, has the blood of those who died on his hands."

7:30pm A sign on Pearl Roundabout that reflects the spirit on the ground: "No Sunni, No Shia, Only Bahraini"...



7:07pm Bahrain Mall was deserted today because of the nationwide strike :



6:48pm Al Jazeera's James Bays has the latest from the capital Manama:



6:36pm Robert Fisk of UK daily Independent spoke to Al Jazeera about the unrest in Bahrain:


6:22pm Protesters provide barbecued fish for dinner in Pearl Roundabout:



1:50pm The AP reports that women are playing a key role in anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain:

As night fell in Bahrain on Saturday, thousands of women took to the streets of the capital Manama to show their support for the popular anti-government protests.


Most women wore traditional black cloaks, with their heads covered. Others wore Bahraini flags around their shoulders as they converged on Pearl Roundabout, the focal-point for demonstrations.

'Today we are happy that we've achieved, that we can tell our demands and needs', said Zahra, who sat with a group of women holding candles.

'We need to change the government of Bahrain. I mean the minister, His Highness, he has to be removed,' she added, a strong comment in a nation which had, until recently, not dared to be overly vocal in criticism of the ruling Sunni royal family.

Another protester, Yasmina al-Said, wore a red shirt and carried a red tulip, symbolising Bahrain's flag.

She highlighted the wide cross-section of Bahrainis who took part in the protests: 'There's no difference between young people or old, or women or men.

'We're here together... and hopefully things will change.'

There are a few cool photos highlighting women's roles in Bahrain's protests via Twitpic - here's a great shot:


From aljamsee




12:05pm The latest:

A landmark junction in the heart of Bahrain's capital, Manama, continues to be occupied by opposition protesters, hundreds of whom spent the night there after another day of anti-government demonstrations in the tiny Gulf state.

10:06am Al Jazeera's James Bays reports from Manama, on today's national strikes in Bahrain:

We understand that some companies and some government facilities have been affected. Schools, in some areas of Bahrain, have been closed because of this national strike, which was called before the events of the return of the protesters to Pearl Roundabout after the withdrawal of the army and police. The national strike was called after that attack on protesters, when the army fired tear gas at them, rubber bullets at them and some live rounds, which struck protesters.

849am Twitpiced by AymanB: A shot of protesters, who remained in the Pearl Roundabout overnight:






8:06am After days of chaos and violence, a moment of peace, Tweeted just moments ago:



7:16 am Following another day of clashes, anti-government protesters reclaim the Pearl Roundabout.

Our correspondent on the scene reports that while the government's withdrawal of security forces was "aimed that starting negotiations", anti-government protesters remained angry. He observed:

Demands have hardened from the beginning of the week. Some say what they want is a change of government, some say that the prime minister should be sacked and others say that the king should go as well.

People are saying that given the people who have died and the number injured they will continue to come here ... many are saying they are not going to leave as they have not got the reform they were asking for.

All of them are asking for constitutional reform. The opposition are asking for a constitutional monarchy, like in the UK or Australia.


====

Kuwait urged to release Bidoons
Sun Feb 20, 2011 12:41PM
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Kuwaiti riot policemen take position during a protest by stateless Arab protesters demanding the right to work in Sulaibiya near Kuwait City.A human rights group has urged the Kuwaiti government to release scores of stateless Arabs, known as Bidoons, arrested during two days of demonstrations in the oil-rich country.


Hundreds of Bidoon protesters staged another protest rally in Kuwait on Saturday to demand basic social rights and citizenship in the littoral Persian Gulf country but faced tough reaction by security forces. Riot police opened fire on protesters in Sulaibiya, a village outside Kuwait City, and wounded a number of demonstrators AFP reported.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says as many as 120 protesters were detained at a Friday rally as Kuwaiti Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Homud al-Sabah put the number at 42.

“The Bidoons have legitimate grievances about discrimination and government inaction, and the government should listen and address them, instead of attacking them and throwing them in jail," said Sarah Leah Whitson, the HRW Middle East director.

"Kuwaiti authorities should look around the neighborhood to see that violent attacks on demonstrators only fuel the protests," she added.

More than 100,000 Bidoons from Bedouin origins are living in Kuwait. The stateless Arabs demand the right to Kuwaiti citizenship and the right to work in the country.

"The government does not recognize their right to work, and Bidoon children may not attend government schools," HRW said.

The Kuwaiti government claims the ancestors of many Arab Bidoons came from neighboring countries and therefore they are not entitled to citizenship.

In 2000, Kuwaiti authorities launched a campaign on the Bidoons in a bid to force the group to "reveal their true identities," depriving them of basic rights, including healthcare, education and jobs.

Moreover, the group is commonly deprived from obtaining driver's licenses and birth or death certificates. They are also banned from getting their marriage contracts attested.

While the average monthly salary of native Kuwaiti citizens surpasses $3,500, many Bidoons live under poor economic conditions in the oil-rich country.


======

February 19, 2011

11:50 Al Jazeera's online producer filed a feature on Bahrainis rejoicing after the army and police withdraw from the roundabout.

10:38pm An Al Jazeera producer filed this video from Salmaniya Hospital when word began to spread that police had pulled out of Pearl roundabout. It shows volunteers, doctors and nurses throwing a member of the staff into the air.



8:47pm Bahrain's main labour union called an indefinite strike from Sunday to protest at police violence and demand the right to demonstrate peacefully.

6:00pm On Bahrain TV Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa promised to usher in a new era of free dialogue.

"Brothers and sisters, now we will start a new phase: a phase during which we will discuss all of our concerns with
honesty. I want to deliver a message that calm is required at this time so all bodies and parties are able to raise
their opinions and concerns and issues in a responsible and productive manner."

5:30pm However Al Jazeera's correpondent in Manama said that many people don't want to negotiate anymore.

"Demands have hardened from the beginning of the week. Some say what they want is a change of government, some say that the prime minister should be sacked and others say that the king should go as well.

"People are saying that given the people who have died and the number injured they will continue to come here ... many are saying they are not going to leave as they have not got the reform they were asking for.

"All of them are asking for constitutional reform. The opposition are asking for a constitutional monarchy, like in the UK or Australia.

"There are others who'd like to see the monarchy go and a completely new system in Bahrain."

5:20pm Al Jazeera's online producer describes the scene after protesters returned to Pearl roundabout



5:00pm People in Pearl roundabout were seen kissing the ground, clapping, laughing and crying.

Some wore white sheets symbolising their readiness for martyrdom, while others carried Bahraini flags, flowers and signs and chanted "Peaceful".

"People want the removal of the regime," they chanted as they marched back into the square that has been the headquarters for their revolt against the Sunni monarchy in the predominantly Shia island nation.



4:00pm Bahraini riot police retreated from Pearl roundabout and thousands of anti-government
protesters streamed back into their former stronghold in Manama.

3:43pm Al Jazeera's online producer describes a scene of anger at Sulmaniya hospital in Manama.



3.30pm Al Jazeera's online producer talks to families of the critically injured.



3:10pm Even as the crown prince appeals for calm, our correspondent in Manama reports that anti-government protesters are gathering at three locations around the Pearl roundabout, planning to march towards it. Police are also present, setting up barriers using barbed wire.

3:07pm The crown prince has called for people to return to "normal life".

3:04pm Bahrain's crown prince is speaking on national television.

He says the country is on the verge of a "period of hope", and thanks all those who have responded to his call for dialogue.

2:57pm This photograph shows an army armoured vehicle leaving the Pearl roundabout. [Reuters]



2:54pm More details on the clash that took place after the military withdrew from Pearl roundabout. The police, who were positioned to take control of the square as soon as the military left, fired tear gas on jubilant protesters who had approached the square in their vehicles, honking their horns and waving flags. The police arrested several people at the square, with the Associated Press putting the number at 10.

2:51pm The country's main trade union has called a strike for Sunday, an a member of the Gulf Air trade union has told Reuters.

"The Gulf Air trade union has told its members that the General Union of Bahraini Workers has called for a strike from February 20," a Gulf Air employee told the news agency, on condition of anonymity.
2:40pm Al Jazeera's online producer has filed this report from Manama, where hospital authorities are preparing for casualties following the clash at the Pearl roundabout.



2:28pm Our correspondent reports that while the military have pulled out of Pearl roundabout, they have repositioned themselves on surrounding streets.

A protest was scheduled for 4:00pm local time by doctors at Salmaniya Hospital, but people there now say that if there are casualties from the clash at Pearl roundabout, they will not hold that protest.

2:06pm Al Jazeera's correspondent confirms that only tear gas was used during the most recent clashes at Pearl roundabout, when protesters attempted to retake the square after the military pulled out.

2:01pm Al Jazeera's online producer in Manama reports that 60-70 protesters have made their way to Pearl roundabout, where they were fired upon by police using tear gas, and some reports say live ammunition.

There are no confirmed casualties as yet, though ambulances have been deployed from the Salmaniya Hospital.

1:47pm The Crown Prince has ordered all troops to leave the streets, and says that police will enforce order, according to the Bahrain News Agency.

1:38pm Police have used tear gas against protesters attempting to return to Pearl roundabout.

1:22pm A witness has told Reuters that the Bahraini army has "completed [its] withdrawal" from Manama's Pearl roundabout.

1:15pm Our correspondent also reported that there currently appear to be no indications that the government is prepared to soften its stance in any way in order to promote dialogue with the opposition. Protesters and the opposition have said that there can be no dialogue as long as the military remains deployed and the government does not allow protests.

1:09pm Our correspondent in Manama reports that there appear to be plans for marches to begin in three separate locations in about two hours time (at 3:00pm local time), with all of them destined for Pearl roundabout. Given the security presence there, he says it is unlikely that they will reach their destination. The real question is whether or not the military and police will use the same level of force (i.e. lethal) as they did on Friday.

Separately, a strike has also been called for Sunday, with protesters calling for Pearl roundabout to be "retaken".

1:00pm For those of you who want access to the full statement from Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, it's available here [pdf].

12:53pm A witness has told Reuters that "many" armoured vehicles are leaving Pearl roundabout in Manama, where police on Thursday broke up a large protest.

12:49pm The official website of the Prime Minister of Bahrain, Khalifah ibn Sulman al-Khalifah, is down. A message on the website says the site is "closed due to maintenance", caused by large numbers of visitors.

11:37am Catherin Ashton, the EU's foreign affair's chief says that a process of political dialogue "should begin without delay".

"I am deeply concerned by new reports about the use of violence by the Bahraini security forces and strongly deplore the loss of lives. I reiterate my call on all parties to exercise restraint and calm in order to avoid further casualties and violence," Ashton said in a statement.

"I urge the Bahraini authorities to respect fundamental human rights including freedom of expression and the right to assemble freely. The dialogue announced by Bahraini crown prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa to meet the demands and aspirations of the people should begin without delay," Ashton said.

11:06am The United States is facing a difficult balancing act on the issue of the violent crackdown on protesters in Bahrain, given that the US Navy's Fifth Fleet is based off the tiny island country. Al Jazeera's Kimberly Halkett in Washington DC filed this report.



10:57am Saeed al Shihabi, on Al Jazeera's Inside Story, says the issue of whether Bahrain has friendly relations with the US or with Iran is a matter that is up to the Bahraini people to decide, and that it cannot simply be predicted by people's religious or sectarian affiliations.

"I don't think the Bahraini people are so stupid to give up their interests and sell themselves to anybody," he said.

Meanwhile, Nabeel Raja, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights slammed the international reaction to the violence against protesters, saying Bahrainis are victims of belonging to a rich country. He called on the US to treat Bahrainis as it would treat Iranians.

10:17am For the record, Faisal Yaqoob al-Hamar, Bahrain's health minister says six people were wounded during the violence last night. Doctors at Salmaniya Hospital have put the number at at least 66, while opposition Wefaq lawmakers say 95 people were hurt.

10:09am Al Jazeera's correspondent in Manama says the opposition is demanding that the system of government in Bahrain be changed to a constitutional monarchy, such as is in place in England or Australia.

Regarding possible protests today, he said that demonstrators fear violence on the part of security forces, but their anger is so great that they are generally undeterred. Thousands of people remain gathered at the Salmaniya Hospital, and some of them say they will march again today.

Opposition politicians, meanwhile, say that whether or not there is a march today is "not in their hands", according to our correspondent. They say the people are now controlling themselves, and that protests are "spontaneous".

9:57am Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, has just tweeted that Type O Negative blood is "urgently needed" for those wounded in protests.

9:44am More video of the army firing on protesters on Friday is emerging all the time. These two clips show the same group of protesters marching towards a line of army tanks at about 4:45pm local time. In one clip, you can hear the protesters chanting "Salmiya, salmiya", which translates as "Peaceful, peaceful". Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the authenticity of these videos. [Warning: This video contains images that some viewers may find disturbing.]





9:37am More from Wefaq:

"To consider dialogue, the government must resign and the army should withdraw from the streets" of Manama, Abdul Jalil Khalil Ibrahim, the head of the opposition bloc, told the AFP news agency. "What we're seeing now is not the language of dialogue but the language of force."

Ibrahim has put the number of people wounded in Friday's crackdown at 95, with three of them "clinically dead".

9:16am The main opposition bloc, Wefaq, has rejected the King's call for dialogue, saying that the government must quit before any talks take place.

"We don't feel there is a serious will for dialogue because the military is in the streets," Ibrahim Mattar, a member of the
Wefaq bloc which quit parliament on Thursday, told the Reuters news agency.

9:10am Al Jazeera's correspondent in Manama says that it is unclear whether there will be any organised protest marches today, and that protesters and opposition political leaders are still weighing their options.

He said that security concerns are foremost amongst the issues being considered, with political leaders he spoke to saying they were "concerned about putting [their] people in harm's way". It is still possible for "spontaneous protests" to take place, however, as they did on Friday.

Speaking off the record, opposition politicians have told Al Jazeera that they would be prepared to talk with the Bahraini royal family, but that it would be difficult "to take the people with them".

9:03am The video below was uploaded on February 17, and shows doctors and nurses at Salmaniya Hospital in Manama protesting against the use of violence against protesters. Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the authenticity of these images.



8:58am Financial TImes correspondent Simeon Kerr was marching with protesters in Manama when they were fired upon on Friday. He filed this video report for the London-based newspaper.

8.46am The Australian government has advised citizens travelling to Bahrain to reconsider their travel plans. Speaking to reporters in Sydney, Kevin Rudd, the country's foreign minister, said: "We have seen clear reports of fatalities among protesters and a large number of injuries as well. The travel advisory for Bahrain now reads that Australians should reconsider their need to travel due to the unpredictable security situation."

Rudd has also called on the Bahraini government to respect its people's right to demonstrate peacefully.

7:40am Salmaniya Hospital was flooded with casualties from Friday's violence near Pearl Roundabout. Our correspondent in Manama has more in this report. [This video contains images that some viewers may find disturbing.]


===
Kuwait MPs rap Bahrain crackdown
Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:44AM
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A Bahraini anti-government protestor is carried to a vehicle to be taken to a hospital after being shot during a demonstration in Manama, Bahrain, Friday, Feb. 18, 2011. A number of Kuwaiti clerics and members of parliament have condemned the use of violence by the Bahraini security forces against pro-democracy protesters.


Yusuf al-Zalzalah, an MP at the National Assembly of Kuwait, voiced concern over the recent uprising in Bahrain which killed and injured several protesters, IRNA reported Friday.

He said that the Bahraini army's measures to break up peaceful protests by people who demand more political reforms was not a common practice in countries of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council.

He called on the Bahraini government to treat protesters in a humane way rather than resorting to violent crackdown.

MP Adnan Abdulsamad said that the Bahraini government needed to deal with protesters tactfully and rationally.

Senior Kuwaiti cleric Mohammed Baqer Musawi al-Muhri also called on Bahrain to respond to the legitimate demands of protesters.

Friday prayers leader of the Imam Hussein mosque in Kuwaiti City Saleh Johar Hayat also condemned the violent crackdown and said the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt fell for trampling the rights of their people.

On Friday, the Bahraini military opened machinegun fire on protesters trying to reach hospitals in what appeared to be an attempted massacre.

Army forces also prevented ambulances and medics from reaching those wounded amid massive pro-democracy protests in Bahrain.

The Friday shooting came after a funeral procession, held for those killed on Thursday, turned into pro-democracy protests with a turnout of tens of thousands.

Four pro-democracy protesters were killed and 231 others wounded after riot police raided the protest camp in the early hours of Thursday, when most of the demonstrators were sleeping, in an attempt to clear capital's main square from demonstrators.

The Bahraini crown prince expressed condolences to citizens over the killing of demonstrators in Manama and called for dialogue.

The opposition has rejected holding talks with the government until it resigns.

AR/MGH


===

February 19, 2011

2:03am At Salmaniya Hospital, a Bahraini army officer who sided with the anti-government protesters is pictured kissing a female demonstrator's hand.




11:51pm Bahrain forces fire on protesters - an MSNBC photo gallery

11:33pm A representative from the Bahraini teachers' union has declared Sunday a national protest day, calling for all teachers to stay at home and for parents not to send their kids to school.

11:09pm A photo gallery from our web team in Bahrain: The funeral for 22-year-old engineering student Ali Ahmed Al-Muamin.



10:55pm More footage of the shooting by the Bahraini army - watch this video to the end! Protester: "They had machine guns, not riffles or hand weapons, machine guns and they shot people who ran away."



10:31pm Hospital sources tell CNN that three people are killed and a fourth person has serious head injuries after the shooting by the security forces.

10:15pm Reuters: Bahrain king asks crown prince to start a national dialogue “with all parties” [official statement]

9:55pm Ali Ibrahim, deputy chief of medical staff at Salmaniya hospital, says 66 have been admitted suffering wounds from the raid at Pearl Roundabout in the capital. Four are in a critical condition. The injuries are worse than those seen on Thursday, he says.

9:50pm An injured man is treated at the Salmaniya Central hospital in Manama after security forces shot at protesters near Pearl Roundabout, wounding at least 23 people, a former Shia lawmaker said.

9:21pm An injured man in Manama after security forces shot at protesters near Pearl Roundabout, wounding at least 23 people:



8:39pm US President Barack Obama is "deeply concerned" by reports of violence from Bahrain, Libya and Yemen and urged those government to show restraint in dealing with protesters, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

8:31pm According to a Wafaq party statement, tomorrow's re-taking of Pearl Roundabout protest has been postponed until Tuesday at the request of victims’ families.



============

.Alarmed by Bahrain violence, U.S. appeals to govt
19 Feb 2011 02:30

Source: reuters // Reuters


* U.S. officials express concerns to Bahrain government

* U.S. lawmaker wants probe into suspending military aid

* Obama urges restraint and respect for rights

* State Department issues travel warning for Bahrain (Updates with Obama speaking with Bahrain king)

By Ross Colvin

WASHINGTON, Feb 18 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama spoke with Bahrain's king on Friday night, urging restraint after the kingdom's security forces ignored Washington's earlier call for calm and opened fire on protesters demanding reforms.

Amid unrest across much of the Middle East, U.S. officials have voiced concern about violence in the island nation in talks with the government of Bahrain, which hosts a big U.S. military base and borders Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter.

The White House said in a statement that Obama, in speaking with King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, condemned violence and said Bahrain's stability depended on respect for the rights of its people.

Earlier on Friday, Obama said he was deeply concerned by reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. "The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries, and wherever else it may occur," Obama said in a statement.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said he had asked the State Department to probe whether Bahrain had broken a U.S. law he wrote that prohibits aid to foreign security forces that violate human rights. The United States provided around $20 million in military aid to Bahrain in 2010.

Bahraini security forces shot at protesters in the capital, Manama, on Friday, wounding at least 60 people, a day after police swept away a protest camp in the city, killing four people and wounding more than 230.

In Libya, soldiers sought to crush unrest. In Yemen, at least four protesters were killed in clashes between security forces and government loyalists and crowds demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule. [ID:nLDE71H229]

Bahrain's crackdown on protesters posed a new dilemma for the Obama administration after a popular uprising in Egypt ousted U.S. ally President Hosni Mubarak a week ago. [ID:nLDE71G00E]

A U.S. national security official said Bahrain security forces appeared to be using rubber bullets and live ammunition fired from, but not limited to, shotguns.

'WANT TO AVOID'

"This (violence) is exactly what the administration and the U.S. want to avoid," said Robert Danin, a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

"In the case of Egypt, the goal was to see managed change, (an) orderly transition. But the number-one thing was to ensure that this be done without violence. The minute that there's violence it is very hard to reconcile support for your ally and the aspirations of the demonstrators."

U.S. national security and intelligence agencies expect Bahrain's government to ride out the unrest and that security forces will eventually succeed in containing the protests, a senior U.S. official familiar with government reporting and analysis on Bahrain told Reuters. [ID:nN18261393]

The United States views Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, as a strategic ally that straddles oil supply lines in the Gulf. As in the case of Egypt and elsewhere in the region, it must balance strategic interests with its support for protesters' demands for economic and political reforms.

Obama's response may be colored by the U.S. view of Bahrain as one of the more progressive Arab states. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Bahrain civil society activists during a visit in December their government was moving more quickly than many others in the region to implement democratic change.

Several 2009 cables from the U.S. Embassy in Manama, made available to Reuters, characterized King Hamad as an enlightened and deeply pro-American ruler who, since assuming the throne in 1999, had fostered reconciliation with the Shi'ite Muslim majority and had undertaken serious political and economic reforms.

"The U.S. is in a rather embarrassing position, because officials have tended to give King Hamad far more credit than they should have for political reforms," said Michele Dunne, a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The State Department issued a travel warning on Friday for Bahrain, noting clashes between protesters and demonstrators. "Spontaneous demonstrations and violence are expected throughout the next several days," the department said, urging U.S. citizens to defer nonessential travel to the country.

Middle East experts said the Obama administration had little leverage over Bahrain's Sunni Muslim monarchy.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, may be reprising the role he played in the Egypt uprising by keeping channels open to the Bahraini military, they said.

"The options to bring pressure seem extremely limited. Despite the close alliance, Bahrain has been defiant of the United States over the years," said Simon Henderson, a Gulf expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Additional reporting by Andrew Quinn, Susan Cornwell, Mark Hosenball, Tom Ferraro and Steve Holland in Washington and Matt Spetalnick aboard Air Force One; Editing by John O'Callaghan, Eric Walsh and Peter Cooney)



============


Bahraini crown prince calls for dialogueFri Feb 18, 2011 11:45PM
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Bahraini Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-KhalifaThe Bahraini crown prince has expressed condolences to citizens over the killing of demonstrators in Manama and called for dialogue, although security forces continue to use live fire on pro-democracy protesters in the capital.


On Friday, security forces opened fire on Bahrainis who were heading toward Manama's Salmaniyeh hospital in silence to visit the people injured and hospitalized the previous day.

Dr. Ghasam, a resident at Salmaniyeh hospital, told Press TV that the incident, in which at least 55 people were injured, appeared to be an attempted massacre by the soldiers who were stationed near the hospital.

He also said that four of the injured people are in very critical condition.

After the incident, Sheikh Salman said that holding dialogue "in a climate of total calm" is the only way to solve the problems of the kingdom and added that "no issue can be excluded from that dialogue."

"What is happening today in Bahrain is not acceptable… We have reached a dangerous stage that necessitates that each of us acknowledges the responsibilities… Bahrain today is divided."

Sheikh Salman, who is known as a reformer, also expressed his condolences to the victims' families.

He went on to say that it will take time to evaluate the reasons for the uprising and to reunite the people.

The army had vowed to use "strict measures" to restore order after a deadly pre-dawn police raid on Thursday. Four pro-democracy protesters were killed and 231 others injured in the 3 a.m. attack on sleeping demonstrators at Pearl Square.

The crown prince made the announcement about a national dialogue soon after King Hamad assigned him to start those discussions.

Bahrain is of strategic importance to the United States since the US Navy's Fifth Fleet is based in the country and about 40 percent of the world's oil passes through the Persian Gulf.

Shia opposition MP Abdel Jalil Khalil Ibrahim said that a man was clinically dead after being hit in the head by a bullet in the incident.

Another opposition MP, Ali al-Aswad, accused the army of firing live ammunition at the people.


===
Bahrain security forces fire on protesters, 23 hit
18 Feb 2011 17:27

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Shooting erupts in Pearl Square, 23 protesters hit

* Thousands of Shi'ites bury four killed on Thursday

* Shi'ite cleric denounces "massacre" that ends dialogue

(Adds details from hospital, edits)

By Cynthia Johnston and Frederik Richter

MANAMA, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Bahraini security forces shot at protesters near Pearl Square on Friday and wounded at least 23, a former Shi'ite lawmaker said, a day after police forcibly cleared a protest camp from the traffic circle in Manama.

"We think it was the army," said Sayed Hadi, of Wefaq, the main Shi'ite bloc which resigned from parliament on Thursday. He said he knew of 23 wounded people.

The shooting occurred on a day of mourning on which Shi'ites buried four people killed in the police raid on Pearl Square.

It also coincided with an appeal for calm and dialogue from the crown prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa. "I respect Wefaq, as I respect others. Today is the time to sit down and hold a dialogue, not to fight," he said on Bahrain TV.

About 1,000 emotional people gathered outside a hospital, some spilling into the corridors as casualties were brought in, including one with a bloody sheet over his head. Some men wept.

<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Factbox on protesters' demands [ID:nLDE71E1RA]

Interactive factbox http://link.reuters.com/puk87r

For related stories on Mideast unrest click [ID:nLDE71F0BK]

Analysis on regional financial impact [ID:nLDE71E0YN]

Background analysis on Bahrain politics [ID:nLDE7170WL]

Factbox on political risks in Bahrain [ID:nRISKBH]

Factbox on political actors in Bahrain [ID:nLDE6780D9]

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

Fakhri Abdullah Rashed said he had seen soldiers shooting at protesters in Pearl Square. "I saw people shot in several parts of their body. It was live bullets," the protester added.

Another Wefaq MP, Jalal Firooz, said demonstrators had been holding a memorial for a protester killed earlier this week when riot police fired tear gas at them. Police had no comment.

The crowd then made for Pearl Square, where army troops who took it over after the police raid opened fire, Firooz said.

Four people were killed and 231 wounded when riot police raided the protest camp in the early hours of Thursday.

Soldiers in tanks and armoured vehicles later took control of the square, which the mainly Shi'ite protesters had hoped to use as a base like Cairo's Tahrir Square, the heart of protests that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11.


FUNERALS

Several thousand mourners turned out on Friday to bury those killed in what Bahrain's top Shi'ite cleric called a "massacre" ordered by the island's Sunni ruling family to crush protests.

The unrest has presented the United States with a now familiar dilemma, torn between its desire for stability in a longstanding Arab ally and a need to uphold its own principles about the right of people to demonstrate for democratic change.

Revered cleric Sheikh Issa Qassem denounced the police attack on the square and said the authorities had shut the door to dialogue, but stopped short of calling for street protests.

"The massacre was on purpose to kill and to hurt and not to clear any demonstration," he said.

People interrupted his Friday prayer sermon in the village of Diraz, shouting "The people want the fall of the regime."

Qassem, an influential but cautious figure who normally shuns politics, disappointed some in the audience of thousands who had hoped he would appeal for protests to be stepped up.

Shi'ites form 70 percent of Bahraini nationals ruled by the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty, the U.S. State Department estimates.

Several thousand Shi'ites joined funeral processions in the island village of Sitra, south of Manama, for three of the dead.

Police stayed away, but a helicopter circled overhead. On Tuesday, one protester was killed at the funeral of another.

In a loyalist demonstration in Manama, hundreds of people waving flags and pictures of the king streamed through the streets, local television footage showed.

Inside the Sitra mosque, men washed the body of 22-year-old student Mahmoud Abu Taki, who was peppered with buckshot.

"He told me before he went there, 'don't worry, father, I want freedom'," said his father, Mekki Abu Taki, 53.

The flag-draped coffins of his son and Ali Mansour Khudeir, 58, were driven to the cemetery atop vehicles. Three protesters were buried there and the fourth in Karzakan village.


DEMAND FOR TRIALS

"Trial, trial for the criminal gang," the crowd shouted. "Justice, freedom and constitutional monarchy."

The Gulf Arab state is a close ally of the United States and Saudi Arabia, which see it as a bulwark against Shi'ite Iran.

The U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which projects U.S. power across the Middle East and Central Asia, is based near Manama.

The unrest in Bahrain, a regional banking hub and a minor oil producer, has shaken foreign confidence in the economy.

The cost of insuring Bahraini sovereign debt against default for five years hit fresh 19-month highs, and the instrument was quoted at 310 basis points, up 49 from Thursday's close.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said the police had to act against the Pearl Square protest camp to save Bahrain from the "brink of a sectarian abyss".

But Hassan Radi, 64, a lawyer in Sitra, contested that.

"Nobody wants to be sectarian, but the people are forced into it when they are discriminated against. No jobs, no respect, this is obvious," he said outside the mosque.

"What they are demanding is ... a modern state with a real democratic constitution that ensures their rights and equality."

In 1999 King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa enacted a constitution allowing elections for a parliament with some powers, but royals still dominate a cabinet led by the king's uncle who has been premier for 40 years. Shi'ites feel cut out of decision-making, as well as from jobs in the army and security forces.

Ibrahim Mattar, a lawmaker from Wefaq, whose 17 members resigned from the 40-seat assembly on Thursday, said only 11 people remained missing after the police attack. Wefaq MPs said on Thursday about 60 people were missing.

Saudi Arabia fears unrest spreading to its own Shi'ite community, a minority there but concentrated in the eastern oil-producing area of the world's biggest crude exporter. (Additional reporting by Michael Georgy in Manama and Isabel Coles in London; Writing by Alistair Lyon; editing by Ralph Boulton)



==========

What comes next in Bahrain upheaval?

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Related VideoMourners gather in Bahrain
10:22am ESTMANAMA | Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:41am EST

MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahraini police stormed a protest camp in central Manama on Thursday, killing three people as thousands of Shi'ite protesters, emboldened by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, demanded more say in the Sunni-ruled island kingdom.

Here are some questions and answers about the turmoil in the Gulf Arab country of 1.3 million, half of them foreigners:

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

The government, led by the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty, rules a majority Shi'ite population that has long complained of discrimination by the ruling family in access to state jobs, housing and healthcare, a charge the government denies.

Shi'ites accuse the government of trying to change the demographic balance by granting citizenship and jobs in the military and security services to Sunnis from elsewhere.
Sectarian tensions have long simmered in the tightly run country which has seen sporadic unrest since the 1990s.

The Shi'ite opposition has called for a more democratic constitution and a change of government.

It wants King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa to fire his uncle, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who has been prime minister for 40 years. Sheikh Khalifa is thought to own a lot of land and is seen as a symbol of the ruling family's wealth.
The government introduced a new constitution and parliamentary elections a decade ago to help quell the Shi'ite unrest but tensions have risen again in recent years as Shi'ites have been disappointed with the assembly's limited clout.

WHO IS INVOLVED?
Bahraini activists called for a "revolution" to begin on February 14 with rallies to continue until their demands were met.

The protests are backed by the main Shi'ite opposition bloc Wefaq, which holds 17 of parliament's 40 seats. It said on Thursday it would quit the assembly in protest over the deaths.

Wefaq, which competes with Sunni Islamist groups and the secular group Waad in parliament, can draw on support from a frustrated Shi'ite community which feels ignored and sidelined.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
Large-scale unrest in Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and a regional banking hub, could embolden marginalized Shi'ites in nearby Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, to press their own demands for reform.

Regional power Saudi Arabia and the United States both view the al-Khalifa family as a bulwark against Shi'ite Iran.


Oil markets fear that a wave of popular unrest that has already toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt could spread further in the Gulf Arab region, which accounts for 40 percent of global oil production. Such worries helped push Brent crude prices to a 28-month high of $104 a barrel at one point on Thursday.

Bahrain's status as a regional banking, trading and Islamic finance center is also at risk with $10 billion parked in mutual funds in the kingdom.

The cost of insuring Bahrain's debt against default could also rise further. Debt insurance costs climbed to 18-month highs in the five-year credit default swap market on Thursday.

Contagion fears could spread to regional sovereign debt while Bahrain's sovereign rating may also come under pressure.

(Editing by Alistair Lyon)

====


30 wounded in Kuwait protests on Friday - sourcesSat Feb 19, 2011 7:32am GMT
Print | Single Page[-] Text [+] KUWAIT (Reuters) -

Thirty people were wounded in Friday's clashes in Kuwait between security forces and stateless Arabs demanding citizenship, security sources said on Saturday. The protest in Jahra, northwest of Kuwait City, was the first in the oil-producing Gulf Arab state since a wave of unrest began sweeping across the Middle East in December.Fifty people were arrested after the demonstration, the security sources said. A similar protest in the village of Salibiya also drew 80 protesters on Friday, they said.

The sources said seven of the wounded in Jahra were from the security forces, who dispersed the demonstration using smoke bombs and water cannon after protesters refused warnings to leave. The Interior Ministry said protesters threw stones.

Those with more serious wounds were treated at Kuwait City's Sabah Hospital, the sources said.

The stateless Arabs, long-time residents of Kuwait known as bedoun from the Arabic "bedoun jinsiyya" (without nationality), were demanding citizenship, free education, free healthcare and jobs, benefits available to Kuwaiti nationals.
Many of Kuwait's stateless are descendents of desert nomads denied citizenship under strict nationality laws in the small Gulf state, where citizenship entitles holders to generous welfare benefits.

The turmoil in the region and worries about its possible effects on Middle East oil producers has pushed up oil prices. Brent crude hit a 28-month high of $104 a barrel on Thursday. (Reporting by Kuwait newsroom; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Alistair Lyon and Matthew Jones)



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Live blog: Feb16 - Feb17 - Feb18

(All times are local in Bahrain, GMT+3)

February 18, 2011

7:55pm An Al Jazeera producer in Manama reports on the shooting:

Our sources say people were participating in a solidarity protest for the doctors and nurses who helped on February 17. They decided to walk to Pearl Roundabout, with the idea of giving police and army flowers, as a gesture of goodwill.

They didn't even make it, army opened fire about 500 metres away. Witnesses said they were aiming at head and chest. Salmaniya hospital is now calling for blood donations.

The Pearl Roundabout right now is full of riot police.

7:45pm More footage of the shooting in Manama. The authenticity of these images could not be verified by Al Jazeera:
7:34pm Protesters run for shelter after Bahraini security forces opened fire at protesters marching towards the Pearl Roundabout in Manama. Bahraini security forces shot at protesters and wounded at least 23, a former Shia lawmaker said. [Photo Reuters]



7: 24pm The latest footage of the shooting in Manama: The authenticity of these images could not be verified by Al Jazeera.

7:02pm A number of people have reportedly been killed in Bahrain as shots were fired at pro-reform protesters.

6:50pm Dr. Ghassan from the Salmaniya hospital made a plea for help on Al Jazeera:

6:45pm Bahrain's crown prince promises to start a national dialogue once calm is restored, as witnesses say police has opened fire on demonstrators in Manama, wounding a number of them.

6:39pm Bahraini troops shot at protesters near Pearl Roundabout and wounded several, Jalal Firooz, a former Shia lawmaker says. Firooz, of the Wefaq bloc that resigned from parliament on Thursday, said demonstrators had been elsewhere in the city, marking the death of a protester killed earlier this week when riot police had fired tear gas at them.

The demonstrators then made for Pearl Roundabout, where army troops who took it over after the police raid on Thursday, opened fire, he said. Police had no immediate comment.

6:22 pm A doctor of Salmaniya hospital tells Al Jazeera that the hospital is full of severely injured people after the latest shootings.
We need help! Our staff is entirely overwhelmed. They are shooting at people's heads. Not at the legs. People are having their brains blown out!

6:17pm Hadeel Al-Shalchi [@hadeelalsh] of Associated Press Tweets:

Protesters reached the #lulu square, sat down and army shot into them again #bahrain

6:13 pm People are tweeting that blood is needed at Salmaniya hospital:

Please if you can announce in AJE and AJA .. Blood needed in Al Salmanya Hospital. BTV won't announce it .. Please if you could.

6:09pm An Associated Press cameraman says he saw army units shooting anti-craft weapons above the protesters in apparent warning shots and attempts to drive them back from security cordons about 200 metres from the Pearl Roundabout.

6:07pm Our correspondent in Bahrain says numerous reports are coming in that live fire is being used to shoot at protesters.
These were not the birdshots that were used to disperse protesters on Thursday, but live bullets. We are hearing it was not the police who is shooting. It is the army.



5:55pm More shots being heard in the area of Pearl Roundabout. No immediate word on casualties.

5:52pm New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof just tweeted this:
Panicked crowds running thru hospital after police attack. Drs rushing to ER. Tear gas grenades outside, wafting in.

5:45pm Security forces have fired tear gas on thousands of pro-reform marchers in Manama after angry calls to topple the Gulf nation's monarchy. Some demonstrators are moving in the direction of Pearl Square, a day after riot police swept into the area to destroy an Egypt-style protest encampment.


5:35pm State TV is showing images of a pro-government rally. Hundreds have taken to the streets of in a show of support for the country's ruling monarchy.






5:26pm Barcelona's Catalunya Circuit is ready to serve as a substitute venue for Formula One's final test session of the season if Bahrain is unable to host due to anti-government unrest.

Circuit director Salvador Servia says the track would be available to hold the March 3-6 event after the Formula One Teams Association asked about a potential switch.

5:21pm Al jazeera's correspondent receives reports of another large protest that is being planned in about 24 hours’ time.

Political leaders are trying to gather people for that rally.



3:16pm Al Jazeera online producer says that several thousand people attended the funeral of Mahmood Makki Abu Takki before Friday prayers in Sitra, and the crowd grew after the prayers with at least 25,000 attending the funeral of Ahmed Ali Muamin.

Reports of big gathering for third day of mourning for person buried on Wednesday to be held in the Al-Daih area. Down-town area of Manama still under lockdown.

3:00pm Emotions were high as thousands gathered to bury those killed in yesterday's pre-dawn raid.



2:37pm Interview with Mona Ali, a 25-year old Bahraini, at a funeral for protesters killed yesterday.



2:08pm Pro-government rallies being held in Bahrain's capital, despite ban on such gathering by police. Al Jazeera reporter says that strong police presence in other areas of city, with helicopters patrolling overhead.

12:27pm Friday prayers are over and strong police presence on some streets. Here is a picture that was uploaded on Twitter that shows tanks in the streets.



11:09am The funerals are taking place before the Friday prayers. Al Jazeera's reporter in Bahrain says that people taking part in the funeral processions fear for their lives.



10:56am A picture from the funeral in Manama's Sitra neighbourhood.



10:07am Thousands now gathering at grave yard for the funeral ahead of Friday prayers.

9:58am Funeral for some of those killed yesterday is now underway. People are very sad, but also very angry.

8:35am No sign of security forces in area where funerals are to be held. Hundreds have gathered and the funeral procession is preparing to start.

8:23am The funerals of four people killed in Thursday's pre-dawn raid in Manama are expected to be held today and could well serve as a rallying point for protesters.

5.14am The UK's Guardian Newspaper reported on Thursday that the British government has launched a review of arms exports to Bahrain, after reports that Bahrain security forces used UK-supplied weapons in the attacks on pro-reform demonstrators in the capital.

The Guardian reported:

Despite long-running concerns among activists over Bahrain's human rights record, British firms were last year granted licences, unopposed, to export an arsenal of sometimes deadly crowd control weapons.

Read the whole article here.


2.50am Britain said on Thursday that it was reviewing decisions to export arms to Bahrain after anti-government demonstrators were killed in clashes with security forces.

"In light of events we are today formally reviewing recent licencing decisions for exports to Bahrain," said Alistair Burt, a junior foreign minister with responsibility for the Middle East.

He warned that Britain would "urgently revoke licences if we judge that they are no longer in line with the criteria" used for the export of weapons.
Read more about this and other Bahrain updates on our website.


1.53am An Al Jazeera Online producer in Bahrain sent in the following images from Manama:


Click here to view the gallery in full-screen.

1.00am There was a marked difference in the happenings in and around Pearl roundabout on day one and day three of the protests.

These two videos, posted on YouTube, show a calm and jubillant atmosphere on February 15, but a nastier picture on February 17, when police attacked demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets:

February 15 - Video posted by johnsmithbahrain



February 17 - Video posted by thetruthisnowchannel



12.45am New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristof, based in Manama, wrote:

As a reporter, you sometimes become numbed to sadness. But it is just plain heartbreaking to be in modern, moderate Bahrain today and watch as a critical American ally uses tanks, troops, guns and clubs to crush a peaceful democracy movement and then lie about it.

This kind of brutal repression is normally confined to remote and backward nations, but this is Bahrain! An international banking center. An important American naval base, home of the Fifth Fleet. A wealthy and well-educated nation with a large middle class and cosmopolitan values.

Read the full piece on the New York Times website.

February 17, 2011

11:55pm Here is the latest report from our correspondent in Bahrain. Please note that the footage contains images that could upset sensitive viewers:



10:50pm Tents on Pearl Roundabout in Manama were cleared of protesters by riot police this morning:




9:38pm Britain is to formally review its recent licensing decisions for arms exports to Bahrain after all the violence, a Foreign Office minister said. The licences have included tear gas cartridges and equipment that can be used for riot control. Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt said in a statement:

In light of events we are today formally reviewing recent licensing decisions for exports to Bahrain. We will urgently revoke licences if we judge that they are no longer in line with the (consolidated EU and UK export licensing) criteria.
9:02 pm US secretary of state Hillary Clinton says the US is urging restraint ahead of possible further unrest in Bahrain on Friday.





8:15pm Bahrain's foreign minister Khalid al Khalifa on state TV denies that Bahraini armed forces used live fire the disperse pro-reform demonstrators. At a news conference he called the deaths of three protestors during the police raid a "regrettable accident". Police action was necessary to pull Bahrain back from the "brink of a sectarian abyss", he said.



8:05pm Reuters: US defence secretary Robert Gates spoke with Bahrain's crown prince Salman, the Pentagon says.


8:01pm In an interview with the BBC, Saudi Arabia's prince Talal Bin Abdulaziz says there is a danger the protests in Bahrain could spill into Saudi Arabia if there will not be serious reforms in the kingdom. Prince Talal Bin Abdulaziz - a known liberal - is the father of billionaire price Al Waleed Bin Talal.


7:49pm The latest photo taken by one of our web producers at the Salmaniya hospital where pro-reform demonstrators were gathering and chanting:




7:35pm Bahrain state TV shows pictures of weapons allegedly belonging to pro-reform demonstrators.


18:10pm UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the leaders of Bahrain not to use violence against civilians and journalists. The reports from Bahrain overnight are deeply troubling, he told reporters, adding that he was disturbed by the violent methods being used to disperse demonstrators:


The Arab regimes need to properly respond to the legitimate aspirations of their people. If they make promises, they need to keep them. The Arab people in the streets have been feeling largely neglected.


17:55pm The Bahraini opposition has called for the government to resign following the deadly police raid on anti-regime protesters in Manama, the head of a Shiite opposition bloc says. Al-Wefaq leader Ali Salman:

The opposition groups, including Al-Wefaq, have issued a statement demanding the government resign and calling for the formation of a new government to investigate this crime.

17:40pm Al Jazeera's White House correspondent in Washington DC says that senior US administration officials will be placing calls to their counterparts in Bahrain today urging restraint. The White House will not say if the President will be picking up the phone. We expect a read out after the calls are made.


17:31pm The latest audio update from one of our web producers at the Salmaniya hospital where pro-reform demonstrators were gathering and chanting "With our spirit and our blood we sacrifice ourselves for you martyr" and "Hussein, Hussein", a Shia specific chant in reference to Imam Hussein:




17:22pm A medical source tells our correspondent that the death toll is likely to rise and that the military might have taken away bodies in a refrigerated truck.


17:02pm Al Jazeera's correspondent says that three more bodies are being kept in the morgue of Salmaniya hospital. There are also reports of another victim - a young girl. Two more patients are fighting for their lives in the hospital. There are also a lot of missing people. A medical source told our correspondent that the army may have taken away bodies in a refrigerated truck.

16:51pm Another video posted on YouTube showing the attack.
16:15pm A spokesman for the central command of Bahrain's forces made a statement on state television:

Bahrain defence forces will take all necessary measures to secure safety, order and stability.


16:07pm Al Jazeera's correspondent says that the death toll of the clashes has risen to at least four.

16:06pm Al Jazeera's correspondent in Bahrain reports that the hospitals are full of injured people after last night’s police raid on the protesters. 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.

16:02pm Reuters: Bahrain to hold emergency meeting of Gulf Arab foreign ministers in Manama on Thursday.


15:45pm The F1 Bahrain Grand Prix scheduled for three weeks time is in serious doubt. The track warm-up event for this weekend (Gp2 Asia series race) has just been canceled due to protests. The circuit had no medical workers available after they were all called to work at hospitals.

13:31pm Anonymous is an online Hackers news organisation, and they issued the statment below:

Click here to see the rest of the statment.

13:26pm 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".

12:13pm The Bahrain minister of health has reportedly resigned from his post in protest over police crackdown, this claim has been denied by the health ministry.

11:09am Armoured vehicles move towards central Manama after police storm protest site in roundabout, killing at least three.

9:15am For more updates from Bahrain you can follow this list compiled by Twitter user @ThomasMeadia : @ThomasMeadia/live-from-bahrain

9:10am AJE correspondent in Bahrain has said that armoured vehicles can be seen heading towards Bahrain Pearl roundabout.

"some protesters claim two deaths, others three. but dozens are seriously injured

"The Pearl Roundabout is no longer the focal point, now that it is cleared.

"Clashes are now sporadic, not limited to one place, and [they] are spread out in different parts of the city," he said.



8:55am Bahrain's main Shia opposition bloc says storming of central square by Police was 'real terrorism', the move was aimed to kill, according to Reuters news agency.

[AFP]

8:25am Reuters news agency has reported that more than 50 armoured vehicles heading towards Bahrain pearl square in Central Manama.

7:32am At least two pro-reform protesters were killed and dozens were injured as hundreds of Bahraini riot police, armed with tear gas, rubber bullets and clubs stormed the main square in the capital as protesters slept.

A video was posted on YouTube by alibh1 showing the attack. Al Jazeera can't verify the authencity of the video.



7.21am The Bahraini Ministry of Interior issued this statement on breaking up pearl roundabout sit-in.


The Ministry of Interior’s spokesperson, Brigadier Tariq Hassan Al Hassan, announced that security forces evacuated the area of pearl roundabout from protesters, after trying all opportunities for dialogue with them, in which some positively responded and left quietly. Others refused to obey the law and that led to interference to make them leave."

Read the full statement here.

5.09am Social networks are a-buzz with news of the attcaks on protesters in Manama. Here are some tweets from the micro-blogging site Twitter

@nehayoo

Protesters are chanting: is this reforming? Attacking at 3 am?

@alialsaeed

seeing pictures of those killed. i'm crying. i'm crying. blood & tears shed. #Feb14 #Bahrain god save us

@ulil

No one expected, the next revolution would break out in Bahrain. Now, see what's brewing there! Amazing.

4.53am Sources confirm to Al Jazeera that two people have died in the attack on pro-reform demonstrators on Thursday morning. Scores more are injured and are being rushed to a hospital in the capital. A source at the hospital tells Al Jazeera that around 40 injured people have just arrived there.
4.49am An Al Jazeera journalist in Manama reports:

Riot police have set up positions along roads leading into Lulu, and they don't appear to be letting any cars travel towards the square. As security forces break up the protesters currently in the center of the action, police are trying to ensure that the demonstrators' ranks will not swell any further. Helicopters continue flying overhead, and the crackdown could continue for hours.

4.25am Sources tell Al Jazeera that at least one person was killed in the attack on protesters by Bahraini police. A member of the political opposition confirmed that women and children were among those attacked.


410am Maryama Alkawaka of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights was at Pearl roundabout when police attempted to break up the protest. She said police began shooting at sleeping protesters from the bridge above the roundabout.

She added:

It was very violent, [the police] were not showing any mercy.

This photo by AFP shows demonstrators sleeping at Pearl roundabout before the attack on Thursday.



4.03am Al Jazeera's correspondent in the capital Manama said there was a lot of tear gas being fired at the protesters. "I am several miles away but i can feel the tear gas," he said, adding:
The police came very quickly in huge numbers... they have been using tear gas, been using rubber bullets... and been using jeeps to round-up people.


Abdul Elah, a pro-reform demonstrator who was injured in the attack spoke to Al Jazeera by telephone, saying:

We were sitting there.. peacefully sitting in the square, most of us sleeping.. suddenly the police came surrounding us from everywhere, thousands, shooting us with tear gas, and rubber guns

4.00am A citizen journalist in Manama submitted this footage of police rushing towards Pearl roundabout:



3.30am Police in Manama have used teargas to disperse protesters camped out in the capital, witnesses told the Reuters news agency. "Police are coming, they are shooting teargas at us," one demonstrator said.
Our journalist in Manama said:

I see lots of police cars visible from my hotel window. I can hear choppers flying around, and also hear constant booms, which may be the sound of tear-gas canisters being shot..."

3.20am Our jounalist on-the-ground in Manama tried to access the Live video feed of Pearl roundabout, but the site is blocked in Bahrain. This is the message that gets displayed instead:



2.30am An Al Jazeera journalist on-the-ground in Bahrain's capital Manama said:


Driving along King Faisal Highway, one could see on the south side of the street above Pearl roundabout more than two dozen cars pulled over with people camping out for the night waving signs and flags

1.20am A Live camera feed from Bahrain's Pearl roundabout has been set-up online, Twitter user @HelpBahrain tweeted.The footage can be viewed here.






1.10am Al Jazeera's correspondent, reporting from Bahrain, said that protesters are standing firm at Pearl roundabout, and they plan to make the site into their own version of Tahrir Square, which was the epicentre of Egypt's revolution.

Our correspondent said the mood at the Roundabout was celebratory but defiant. He added:

What [the protesters] were saying and what they were chanting, I think some here would describe as treasonous. Because the main chant repeated by the large crowd was 'Down with the Khalifa's' ... the al Khalifa royal family have run this country for over 200 years.

Our correspondent sent in this report:



1.05am There are reports on social media that the internet has been slowed in Bahrain.

New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristof just tweeted this:

Why slow the Internet? The #Bahrain govt view seems to be that if it isn't uploaded on YouTube, it hasn't happened.

February 16, 2011


11:00pm Footage of a anti-government protester who was shot in the head in Jad Hafas on February 14:






10:45pm Footage of a wounded protester after clashes with the Bahraini police on February 14:




10:33pm New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristof just tweeted this:

People singing, chanting, dancing around Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain well into the night. Trucks delivering donated food.


8:20pm Hundreds of anti-government protesters are still gathering on Pearl Roundabout in Manama.




7:03pm The Guardian has published five US diplomatic cables from (and about) Bahrain. They are all several years old, but they reflect what the US government knew, and what it was reporting internally, before the turmoil became as intense as it is today.

6:51pm Speaking to Al Jazeera, Matar Ibrahim Matar, a Bahraini Member of Parliament, says that the King should listen to the demands of the pro-democracy protesters.

"Our plan is to take the ruling family out of the direct political positions."






5:45pm The latest images from a pro-government rally around the Bahrain National Stadium:






5:21pm Reports on Twitter say police is clashing with protesters in Sanad, south of Manama.


4:32pm Latest image from the protests at the Pearl Roundabout in Manama [@hussain_info via Twitter]


4:05pm An eyewitness tells Al Jazeera that a pro-government rally is forming near the National Museum of Manama. Some 70 cars with protesters have gathered near the site. More cars appear to be underway. The protest is overlooked by a small police force.

2:13pm New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristof just tweeted this:

Bahrain's Pearl Square looks like Tahrir Square all over again. Police gathered in force but standing back for now.

1:43pm Relatives of Fadel Salman Matrouk, who was shot dead in front of a hospital a day earlier where mourners gathered for the funeral of another comrade, attend his funeral in Manama [AFP].


1:00pm Picture of US-made tear gas that was used against protesters during the past two days. This was taken by Maryam Alkhawaja, head of foreign relations at Bahrain Center for Human Rights.



12:08pm Our correspondent says that there are rumours of a third person dying after being injured in protests yesterday. He said that protesters are very angry about this, but it was still unconfirmed.

11:25am Global Voices, an international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media, maintain a special coverage page on the protests in Bahrain.

11:14am Funeral processions ends with burial of the deceased. Some of the protesters reported to head back to Pearl roundabout from the cemetery (Source).



10:35am Policemen behind the killing of two protesters in Bahrain have been arrested pending investigation, AFP news agency reports the interior minister as saying, while thousands of protesters continue their demonstration in the centre of Manama.

10:24am Activists say they also want the release of political prisoners, which the government has promised, and the creation of a new constitution.
10:20am Picture from last night showing the crowds beginning to gather at Pearl roundabout. (Pic by Saleh Nass)



10:17am Crowds in Bahrain seek wide-ranging political changes, including breaking the monarchy's grip on appointing top government posts.

9:39am Witnesses says that more people continue to join the funeral procession. Picture from twitter (Source).



9:37am Thousands following funeral procession, while others continue to occupy Pearl roundabout. (Pic by Saleh Nass)



9:20am Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human rights, told Al Jazeera that the King's speech "was too late".

People were expecting him to come out and meet the demands of the people - but he did not talk about how he will address the demands of the people.

People don't want only an investigation about the two killings - they want change.

9:05am Our correspondent says that there are no police in sight and "they are clearly allowing this march and funeral procession to continue".
9:01am Latest pictures from the funeral procession and people marching with it. (Source)



9:00am Funeral procession making its way through city, with thousands of people chanting and following it. Some have left work to attend, saying: "It is our duty".

8:45am No police at the hospital now. Funeral will begin soon.

8:36pm Protesters at hospital morgue to collect body of man killed during yesterday's protests.




8:34am Redha Haji, live tweeting from Bahrain, sends this update from the morgue where protesters are waiting to receive body of protester killed in yesterday's violence:

Lots more mourners present. All want to pay their last respects. Helicopter above.

8:15am Amnesty International condemns the "heavy-handed tactics used by Bahrain’s riot police" yesterday after the second death in two days. Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:
This second killing within two days is both tragic and a very worrying development."

8:12am Pearl roundabout, a major landmark of the city is occupied by thousands of people. They are very well organised and are saying that they will make this Bahrain's version of Egypt's Tahrir Square.

There are no police officers on the roundabout - they are standing some 700 meters away. A group of protesters will march from the roundabout while others remain and keep it occupied.

8:03am Anti-government demonstrators in Bahrain are expected stage fresh protests in around 30 minutes.
7:38am Protesters camped out overnight, occupying a square in the capital city, Manama.




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By Cynthia Johnston and Frederik Richter

MANAMA | Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:41am EST

MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahraini troops shot at demonstrators on Friday and wounded many, a former Shi'ite lawmaker said, as government crackdowns on protests in the Middle East and North Africa turned increasingly violent.

While millions of Egyptians celebrated their ouster of Hosni Mubarak after 30 years, protesters elsewhere, inspired by their success, were engaged in struggles against their own authoritarian rulers.

In Bahrain, troops shot at protesters near Pearl Square on Friday and wounded many, a former Shi'ite lawmaker said, a day after police forcibly cleared a protest camp from the traffic circle in Manama, killing 4 people and wounding more than 230.

At least two people were killed in Yemen when security forces and pro-government loyalists clashed with crowds demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule.

And in Libya, soldiers were deployed in the streets of the country's second city Benghazi after thousands of people demonstrated overnight over the killing of what U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said were at least 24 protesters on Wednesday and Thursday.

The unrest in the region -- particularly worries about its possible impact on oil giant Saudi Arabia -- helped push Brent crude prices to a 28-month high of $104 a barrel on Thursday.

It was a factor in gold prices extending early gains to five-week highs. By Friday afternoon, Brent was just over $102 a barrel.

In Bahrain, Jalal Firooz, of the Wefaq bloc that resigned from parliament on Thursday, said demonstrators, marking the death of a protester killed earlier this week, had made for Pearl Square, where army troops opened fire.

"There are many casualties, some are critical," he said. Police had no immediate comment.

Thousands of Bahraini Shi'ites turned out on Friday to bury those killed in Pearl Square.

Bahrain's most revered Shi'ite cleric, Sheikh Issa Qassem, described the police attack as a "massacre" and said the government had shut the door to dialogue, but stopped short of calling openly for street protests.

The violence was the worst in the Saudi-allied Gulf island kingdom in decades and a sign of the nervousness of the Sunni royal family, long aware of simmering discontent among the majority Shi'ites.

Thousands gathered at a mosque in the village of Sitra, south of Manama, for Friday prayers and the funerals of three of those killed. "The people want the fall of the regime," they cried. "Justice, freedom and constitutional monarchy."

In a loyalist demonstration in Manama, hundreds of pro-government supporters, waving flags and pictures of the king, streamed through the streets, local TV footage showed.

The army in Bahrain, a country of 1.3 million people of whom 600,000 are native Bahrainis, had issued a warning to people to stay away from the center of the capital.


===
Bahrainis and Libyans bury dead from protests

Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:47am GMT
Print | Single Page[-] Text [+]
1 of 1Full SizeBy Cynthia Johnston and Frederik Richter
MANAMA (Reuters) - Thousands of Shi'ites in Bahrain turned out to bury their dead on Friday and funerals were expected in two Libyan towns as both countries mourned victims of government crackdowns on protesters.

Both pro- and anti-government demonstrators gathered in the Yemeni city of Taiz and crowds were expected to take to the streets in Sanaa and Aden after Friday prayers to demand an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32 years in power.

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians held a nationwide "Victory March" to celebrate the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule one week ago and to remind the new military rulers of the power of the street.

The march will also act as a memorial to the 365 people who died in the 18-day uprising that shook the Middle East.

Inspired by the toppling of veteran leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, crowds have taken to the streets demanding political change, jobs and an end to grinding poverty.

In Bahrain, four protesters were killed on Thursday when riot police drove activists from a makeshift camp in Pearl Square in Manama, the capital. More than 230 were wounded and dozens were detained.

About 1,000 Shi'ites gathered at a mosque in the village of Sitra, south of Manama, for the funerals of three of the dead. "The people want the fall of the regime," they cried.

Inside the mosque, men washed the body of 22-year-old student Mahmoud Abu Taki, whose shoulder was peppered with buckshot.

"He told me before he went there, 'don't worry, father, I want freedom'," said his father, Mekki Abu Taki, 53.
Speaking about the funerals, a protester in Bahrain called Sayed told BBC television: "There is going to be violence, there is going to be clashes...Bahrain is going into a really dark tunnel."


Thursday's violence was the worst in the Saudi-allied Gulf island kingdom in decades and a sign of the nervousness felt by Bahrain's Sunni al-Khalifa royal family, long aware of simmering discontent among the country's majority Shi'ites.

The army in Bahrain, a country of 1.3 million people of whom 600,000 are native Bahrainis, has issued a warning to people to stay away from the centre of the capital and said it would do whatever was needed to maintain security.

The sectarian tension in Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet which projects U.S. military muscle across the Middle East and Central Asia, could fuel discontent among the Shi'ite minority in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter.

The unrest in the region helped push Brent crude prices to a 28-month high of $104 a barrel on Thursday and was a factor in gold prices extending early gains to five-week highs. On Friday morning Brent was at $103.
In Libya, soldiers were deployed on the streets of the second city Benghazi after thousands of people took to the streets overnight, a witness said.

U.S.-based rights group Human Rights Watch said Libyan security forces had killed at least 24 people in crackdowns on protests on Wednesday and Thursday.

The deaths in Libya happened after opponents of Muammar Gaddafi, leader of the North African country for more than 40 years, designated Thursday a day of protest to try to emulate the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings.

A resident who lives on Benghazi's main thoroughfare, Nasser Street, told Reuters on Friday the city was now quiet.
BBC radio, quoting a witness, said protesters in Benghazi had clashed with security forces firing guns. Doctors had counted the bodies of 10 people. Benghazi is about 1,000 km (600 miles) east of the Libyan capital.

Another resident in Benghazi, who said he had been in contact with people in the nearby town of al Bayda, told Reuters: "The confrontation between protesters and Gaddafi supporters is still going on, some of the police have become angry ... there are a lot of people killed."
Local sources had earlier told Reuters that at least five people were killed in al Bayda.

The resident said Saadi Gaddafi, a businessman son of the Libyan leader had been on local radio and said he was coming to Benghazi to take over as mayor and protect the people there.
Funerals of those killed were expected in Benghazi and Al Bayda on Friday and could act as catalyst for further protests.

Protesters in the region have been following events in neighbouring countries, many via social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

In Libya, there have been unverified reports on social networks of up to 50 deaths after demonstrations that were a rare show of defiance against Gaddafi. Pro-Gaddafi supporters also were out on the streets early on Friday, according to CNN.

On Thursday in Yemen, four protesters were killed in the port of Aden in demonstrations that began seven days ago and which showed no signs of abating.

In Iraq on Thursday, two people were killed and 47 injured when police opened fire on anti-government protesters in the northern city of Sulaimaniya.
Leaders from the Gulf to the Atlantic have announced a variety of measures to ease rising food prices and unemployment and to enhance political participation.

The United Arab Emirates said on Thursday it would treble the number of people the rulers would choose to vote for members of an advisory body that serves as a form of parliament.

Western powers have been caught in a dilemma between backing rulers whom they see as bulwarks against anti-Western Islamists and at the same time being seen to promote democracy.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington supported "real, meaningful" change in Bahrain, which she called a friend and ally, and urged the government to show restraint.

(Writing by Janet Lawrence; Editing by Angus MacSwan)



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8:40am GMT 1 / 2 Supporters and family members of injured protesters shout anti-government slogans outside Salmaniya Hospital's emergency department, after the injured were brought to hospital, in Manama February 18, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed


Video shows police firing into crowd (01:30) Report
By Cynthia Johnston and Frederik Richter

MANAMA | Sat Feb 19, 2011 11:39am GMT

MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahraini troops and armoured vehicles on Saturday left a Manama square that had been a base for anti-government protesters, hours after opposition groups rejected a royal dialogue call unless the military stood down.

A handful of demonstrators tried to move back into their former stronghold in Pearl Square after the army pullout, but police firing tear gas beat them back.

One man raced to the centre of the traffic circle, fell to his knees to kiss the yellowed grass and began praying as other protesters celebrated. Moments later, 10 police cars pulled up and policemen beat up one protester as others fled.
Troops in tanks and armoured vehicles took over the traffic circle on Thursday after riot police attacked protesters who had camped out there, killing four people and wounding 231.

Bahrain's crown prince announced that all troops had been ordered off the streets and that police would maintain order.

The main Shi'ite bloc and other opposition groups earlier rejected a royal call for dialogue to end the unrest unless troops were withdrawn.

"Nobody is willing to sit with officials if the military is killing people," Ibrahim Mattar, a member of the main Shi'ite Wefaq bloc which quit parliament on Thursday, told Reuters.
"We don't feel there is a serious will for dialogue because the military is in the streets and people are not allowed to protest," he added.




Turmoil has rocked Bahrain since demonstrators, mostly from the 70 percent Shi'ite majority, took to the streets to demand more say in the tiny Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab island.

Shi'ites feel cut out of decision-making and complain of discrimination in access to state jobs and housing.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa offered a national dialogue with all parties on Friday to try to end the turmoil in which six people have been killed and hundreds wounded since Monday.

"Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has ordered the withdrawal of all military from the streets of Bahrain with immediate effect," a statement said on Saturday. "The Bahrain police force will continue to oversee law and order."

More than 60 people were in hospital with wounds sustained on Friday when security forces fired on protesters as they headed to Pearl Square, then still in military hands.

The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement she was deeply concerned about new reports on violence by the security forces.

"I urge the Bahraini authorities to respect fundamental human rights including freedom of expression and the right to assemble freely," she said, urging all parties to use restraint.


We are not going to enter a dialogue as Shi'ites," Mattar said. "They try to put the issue in this frame. The dialogue should be with all people who were protesting. Some are liberal, non-Islamic. Some are Sunni and some Shi'ite."

Shi'ites, who make up about 70 percent of Bahraini nationals feel cut out of decision-making in the Sunni-ruled state and complain of discrimination in access to state jobs and housing.

On Friday, the king offered a national dialogue with all parties to try to end the turmoil fuelled by Shi'ite grievances in which six people have been killed and hundreds wounded.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to King Hamad on Friday, condemning the violence and urging the government to show restraint and respect the rights of its people.

MILITARY ORDERED TO WITHDRAW

"Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has ordered the withdrawal of all military from the streets of Bahrain with immediate effect," a statement said on Saturday.

"The Bahrain police force will continue to oversee law and order."

More than 60 people were in hospital with wounds sustained on Friday when security forces fired on protesters as they headed to Pearl Square, then still in military hands.

Also on Friday, Shi'ite mourners buried the four people killed in the raid on Pearl Square, which protesters had hoped to turn into a base like Cairo's Tahrir Square, the heart of a revolt that ousted Egypt's Hosni Mubarak.

The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton voiced concern about reports on violence by the security forces. "I urge the Bahraini authorities to respect fundamental human rights including freedom of expression and the right to assemble freely," she said, appealing to all parties to use restraint.

Young activists had also called for an open-ended strike from Sunday and the closure of all public and private schools on a Facebook page called the "February 14 revolution in Bahrain."

They demanded that protesters be allowed back into Pearl Square, the release of all political prisoners and word on the fate of missing people, as well as the resignations of the defence and interior ministers and the security chief.

A naval base near Manama that hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet helps the United States to project power across the Middle East and Central Asia, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

A Fleet spokesman said there was no significant impact on operations and Jennifer Stride, spokeswoman for the U.S. naval base, said no evacuation of families was planned.
The United States is caught between the desire for stability in an ally seen as a bulwark against Iran and the need to uphold the people's right to express their grievances.

The unrest in Bahrain, a minor non-OPEC oil producer and regional banking hub, has shaken confidence in the economy.

In 1999, King Hamad introduced a constitution allowing elections for a parliament with some powers, but royals still dominate a cabinet led by the king's uncle for 40 years.

(Additional reporting by Michael Georgy in Manama, Ross Colvin in Washington and Charlie Dunmore in Brussels; Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Angus MacSwan)


==============
February 18, 2011

3:16pm Al Jazeera online producer says that several thousand people attended the funeral of Mahmood Makki Abu Takki before Friday prayers in Sitra, and the crowd grew after the prayers with at least 25,000 attending the funeral of Ahmed Ali Muamin.

Reports of big gathering for third day of mourning for person buried on Wednesday to be held in the Al-Daih area. Down-town area of Manama still under lockdown.

3:00pm Emotions were high as thousands gathered to bury those killed in yesterday's pre-dawn raid.
===
(Reuters) - Police action was necessary to pull Bahrain back from the "brink of a sectarian abyss," the Gulf Arab state's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said Thursday.

Three people were killed and 231 wounded when police attacked anti-government protesters. The clashes came after thousands of overwhelmingly Shi'ite protesters took to Bahrain's streets demanding more say in the running of the kingdom.

"The country was on the brink of a sectarian abyss so it was a very important step that had to happen, police took every care possible," Sheikh Khaled said.

Troops in armored vehicles took control of Manama on Thursday as part of a crackdown by the Bahraini authorities which appeared designed to snuff out protests before they could gather momentum.

Sheikh Khaled was speaking at a press conference also attended by the United Arab Emirates' foreign minister and the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a loose economic and political bloc of Gulf Arab states.

Gulf Arab foreign ministers meeting in the Bahrain capital Thursday evening planned to discuss the unrest in the Gulf island kingdom, state news agencies said earlier Thursday.

(Reporting by Frederik Richter; Writing by Amran Abocar; Editing by Ralph Boulton)




====

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By Frederik Richter

DIRAZ, Bahrain | Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:13am EST

DIRAZ, Bahrain (Reuters) - Bahrain's senior Shi'ite cleric said on Friday a police attack on protesters which killed four people was a "massacre" and the government has shut the door to dialogue.

Sheikh Issa Qassem, seen as the most revered Shi'ite cleric in Bahrain, spoke at a mosque in a Shi'ite village on the northwestern edge of Bahrain, where thousands gathered for the Friday prayer.

He was interrupted during his sermon by people chanting: "The people want the fall of the regime."

The powerful cleric wields considerable influence amongst the Gulf Arab state's Shi'ite majority, making him a key figure in the country's turmoil. Analysts say that he rarely ventures into day-to-day politics and if so only makes cautious remarks.

Jawad Fairooz, a member of parliament for main Shi'ite bloc Wefaq, told Reuters Sheikh Issa had also urged people to press for their rights.

"He said you should insist on your demands," Fairooz said, adding he interpreted that as an endorsement of street protests: "It is clear that they should not be silent and should be in the streets."
Four protesters were killed on Thursday when riot police drove activists from a makeshift camp in Pearl Square in the capital. More than 230 were wounded and dozens were detained.

Several thousand Shi'ites turned out in Bahrain on Friday to bury three of those killed in a crackdown ordered by the island state's Sunni ruling family to quell opposition protests inspired by Egypt.

(Writing by Amran Abocar; Editing by David Stamp)



الله ينصركم و يرحم شهدائكم ويفك اسراكم و يلم شملكم. حسب ما هو واضح فان المرتزقه الباكستانيين من السعوديه هو من قاموا بالمجزره. بما ان الاغلبيه في شعب البحرين تستطيع ايقاف الحياه بالاضرابات و الجلوس في المنازل، فلا بد ان يكون هذا الخيار مطروح على الطاوله. كما نرجو منكم الاتصال بمنظمات حقوق الانسان العالميه لتوصيل ما يحدث للاعلام العالمي و اجباره على متابعة الاحداث و نشر ما يجري. الجزيره لن تقوم بنفس الدور كما في مصر. الاسرتين في قطر و البحرين لهما مصالح مشتركه تقودها اسوأ يد و هي السعوديه
===
النظام البحريني يجمع الهنود والباكستانيين والآسيويين ويلبسهم الثوب البحريني ويخرجهم في مسيرة تاييد

===

مرحبا اود ان اقوووووول ماهى مطالب شعب البحرين قلب النظام وياتى نظام تسيره دوله خارجيه انا اقوووول الله يهديهم ويصلحم انا اسالكم انتم مع الشعب البحرين كافه ولا فئه معينه كيف تكون مظاهرات سلميه فيها سيوف ومسدسات ................ وشكرا
============


'Bahrain's fall to be disaster for US'
Fri Feb 18, 2011 2:19AM
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Bahraini doctors march outside a hospital in protest a crackdown on a pro-democracy protest camp in the capital's Pearl Square on February 17, 2011 in Manama, Bahrain.A former Lebanese minister, Essam Naaman, says that the Bahraini regime's fall will be tantamount to 'disaster' for the United States.

The oil-rich Bahrain is home to US' Navy's Fifth Fleet. Also because of its strategic location in the Persian Gulf, it is very important for the US strategy in the area, Naaman stated.

If the Bahraini regime falls, he said, it will be a disaster to the American policy in the Middle East and its long-term strategy, Naaman told Press TV on Thursday.

The Fifth Fleet is a shield for American forces against many countries, “especially Iran,” he said. “The Fleet is here to spy on Iran and control the Strait of Hormoz.” So these are failures for the American policy in the region, Naaman said.
Naaman said that there are long-time grievances in the country. Now after the pre-dawn attacks on peaceful pro-democracy protesters on Thursday, many of the parliamentarians have resigned in a show of protest against the violent crackdown.

After the violent crackdown against demonstrators, eighteen members of Bahrain's parliament resigned from their posts on Thursday in a show of protest.

The lawmakers announced that they have suspended their membership in parliament over the killings of Shia demonstrators, Press TV cited an unnamed opposition parliamentarian as saying.

The magnitude of the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain is unprecedented in the history of the Persian Gulf kingdom and the authorities' efforts to quell them have so far been ineffective.

The demonstrators are demanding a new constitution that would move the country toward democracy and limit the king's powers.

Bahrain is ruled by a royal family, who are blamed for discrimination against the country's Shia population -- comprising 70 percent of the population.

Protesters have also called on the Bahraini king to fire his uncle, Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who has been the country's prime minister since 1971.



============
Regional jitters as Bahrain faces flashpoint funerals18 Feb 2011 03:18

MANAMA, Feb 17 (Reuters) - About 60 people are missing and at least three dead after Bahrain police raided a protest camp on Thursday, a Shi'ite opposition lawmaker said.

Ibrahim Mattar also said the main Shi'ite Wefaq bloc would quit parliament. "All the members are going to resign. The decision is taken," he told Reuters.


Source: reuters // Reuters


* Bahrain funerals could be flashpoint

* Unrest worries bolster oil prices

By Cynthia Johnston

MANAMA, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Parts of the Middle East and Arab North Africa could see renewed displays of public anger towards their governments on Friday as protesters in Bahrain bury four people killed when police broke up an activist camp.

Crowds have taken to the streets in Libya, Yemen, Iran and Bahrain in recent days, demanding at the very least more representation and at the most the overthrow of governments.

The protests, inspired by popular revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that drove the veteran leaders of both countries from office, has forced the authorities to react, sometimes with fatal consequences.

In Bahrain, troops in armoured vehicles took control of the capital before days on Thursday after police firing buckshot and teargas pushed out hundreds of protesters camped out in central Pearl Square.

It was the worst violence in the Saudi-allied Gulf island kingdom in decades and a sign of the nervousness felt by Bahrain's Sunni al-Khalifa royal family, long aware of simmering discontent among the country's majority Shiites.

The sectarian aspect of the violence in Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, could fuel discontent among the Shi'ite minority in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter.


The unrest in the region helped push Brent crude prices to a 28-month high of $104 a barrel on Thursday and were a factor in gold prices extending early gains to five-week highs.

The funerals of four people killed in the raid in Manama were expected to be held on Friday and could well serve as a rallying point for protesters. One protester was killed this week while attending the funeral of an activist.


ARMY WARNING

The army in Bahrain, a country of 1.3 million people of whom 600,000 are native Bahrainis, has issued a warning to people to stay away from the centre of the capital and said it would do whatever was needed to maintain security.

Protesters in the region have been following events in neighbouring countries, many via social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and will again be watching for signs whether Friday, a day of rest for many Muslims, will herald fresh demonstrations. In Egypt, demonstrations often heated up on Friday after afternoon prayers.

On Thursday in Yemen, four protesters were killed in the port of Aden in demonstrations that began seven days ago and which showed no signs of abating.

Demonstrators want to be rid of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled for 32 years but is seen by Washington as a key ally in its fight against al Qaeda militants based in Yemen.

In Libya, where there have been reports of five deaths in a rare show of defiance against leader Muammar Gaddafi, it was unclear whether protesters would seek to push on from Thursday's "day of rage". The protest, which secured backing in the eastern city of Benghazi, had little or no signs of support in the capital Tripoli, where a pro-Gaddafi crowd held a rally.

In Iraq on Thursday, two people were killed and 47 were injured when police opened fire on anti-government protesters in the northern city of Sulaimaniya.
Leaders from the Gulf to the Atlantic have announced a variety of measures to ease rising food prices and unemployment and to enhance political participation.

The oil-rich United Arab Emirates said on Thursday it would treble the number of people the rulers would choose to vote for members of an advisory body that serves as a form of parliament.
Middle Eastern leaders also have tightened security.

Western powers have been caught in a dilemma between backing rulers whom they see as bulwarks against anti-Western Islamists and at the same time being seen to promote democracy.

In Bahrain, Saudi and Western officials fear majority rule could help their adversaries in Shiite-ruled Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington supported "real, meaningful" change in Bahrain, which she called "a friend and ally", and called on the government to show restraint. (Writing by Matthew Jones; Editing by Ron Popeski)





================
Four dead, 60 missing in Bahrain
Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:43PM
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At least four protesters have been killed and about 60 gone missing after Bahraini security forces storm a protest camp in capital Manama.


Bahraini police broke up a protest camp in Pearl Square in downtown Manama on Thursday and fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters, a Press TV correspondent quoted an unnamed opposition lawmaker as saying.

Bahraini protesters have renamed the square as Tahrir Square, after a square with a similar name in Egypt, which became the center of pro-democracy protests.

Four people were killed during the clashes, bringing to seven the total number of those killed since the protests began on Monday.

Armored vehicles could be seen rumbling through the capital as the government tries to quell the protests inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

Bahrain's army has said it will take all necessary measures to ensure security and called on people to avoid going to central areas of Manama.

The magnitude of the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain is unprecedented in the history of the Persian Gulf kingdom and the authorities' efforts to quell them have so far been ineffective.

The demonstrators are demanding a new constitution that would move the country toward democracy and limit the king's powers.

Bahrain is ruled by a royal family, who are blamed for discrimination against the country's Shia population -- comprising 70 percent of the population.

Protesters have also called on the Bahraini king to fire his uncle, Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who has been the country's prime minister since 1971.




===
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Protests in Africa and the Middle EastBy Reed Stevenson

DUBAI | Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:41am EST

DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain may be tiny, and fairly insignificant as an oil producer, but nearly $10 billion parked in mutual funds in the kingdom mean plenty is at stake if protests inspired by Egypt and Tunisia spiral out of control.

It is the Gulf Arab state seen as most vulnerable to unrest because of deep-rooted discontent among its majority Shi'ite population against the ruling Sunni dynasty, the al-Khalifas. The populace complains of economic hardships, lack of political freedoms and discrimination in jobs in favor of Sunnis.
This has always sat awkwardly with its status as a regional banking, trading and Islamic finance hub, but its advantages, as a diversified economy and relatively liberal society, have outweighed the risks -- thus far.

"If you're trying to set yourself as a financial hub you need to provide security and stability above all else," said Sven Richter, managing director and head of frontier markets at Renaissance Asset Management.

So far there is no sign of money leaving. The stock market is flat this week and funds say they are still waiting to see how protests, in which two people have died this week, play out.

Markets are open and banks are functioning as usual on the island, home to 1.3 million people, half of whom are foreigners.

Yet the cost of insuring Bahrain's debt climbed to its highest level since August 2009 with 5-year credit default swaps rising 13 percent in two days to 275 basis points.

Investors are watching the situation closely.

In Saudi Arabia, connected to Bahrain via a causeway, the main share index fell 1.2 percent on Wednesday.

Aqber Naqvi, a fund manager with Al Masah Capital in Dubai, said he could consider changing his exposure to Bahrain if the unrest grew: "If there is traction to these protests, we might take a call," he said. "But as of now it's too early to say."


SAUDI LINKS

The financial industry accounts for 25 percent of Bahrain's GDP and is an important provider of jobs. Assets of Bahraini banks more than tripled between 2002 and 2008 to $252 billion, but have since fallen to $217 billion as of October 2010.

The key will be the degree of outflows, if any. With a currency pegged to the dollar, Bahrain's $3.77 billion in foreign exchange and gold reserves could be quickly depleted.

Bahrain's stability is important for neighbouring Saudi Arabia, a key supporter of Bahrain's royal family and where key oilfields are home to an oppressed and occasionally restive Shi'ite minority. Bahrain also hosts a major U.S. naval base.The Shi'ites have long complained of government neglect and discrimination, well before uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt emboldened activists across the region. Discontent has been expressed in on-and-off unrest since the mid-1990s.
-
With little oil of its own, Bahrain has little spare cash to throw at social problems. But it said last week it would spend an extra $417 million on social items, including food subsidies.

Protesters want the removal of the prime minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who has governed since British rule ended in 1971. For now, they have not sought change at the very top -- his nephew King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has ultimate control over the kingdom.

King Hamad announced last week he would give 1,000 dinars ($2,650) to each local family, and the government has indicated that it may free minors arrested under a security crackdown last year ahead of parliamentary elections.
"That hasn't seemed to really calm the situation," said Richter at Renaissance.

POVERTY

The introduction of a new constitution and parliamentary elections a decade ago helped quell Shi'ite unrest then. But tensions have risen again in recent years as Shi'ites have been disappointed with the assembly's limited clout.

Shi'ites want their rulers to stop granting Sunnis from outside Bahrain citizenship and jobs in the armed forces and security services. They see that as a tactic to change the demographic balance of the nation.

The government had been planning to cut subsidies to improve its finances, after posting a 10 percent budget deficit in 2009, and one factor making spending possible is oil's climb well above Bahrain's budget break-even price of about $80 per barrel.

There is great income disparity in Bahrain, but not to the degree seen in Egypt. Per capita gross domestic product in Bahrain is over $40,000, ranked 20th in the world. But while no Bahraini lives on less than $1 a day, an internationally used guide to extreme poverty, many live on just a few dollars.

As unrest spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Gulf states were in the spotlight but mostly seen immune to similar unrest, thanks to an unwritten pact under which their rulers have traded a share of their oil wealth for their subjects' loyalty.

"Bahrain is on the end of that scale," said Lars Christensen, emerging markets senior analyst at Danske Bank, referring to Bahrain's lower level of social stability compared with its Gulf neighbors. "I can't really see this in Qatar or Kuwait. That's hard for me to imagine."


Neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Bahrain's biggest trading partner, is already watching events closely.

Both countries are also close U.S. allies -- Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which Washington depends on to curtail the regional influence of Shi'ite Iran.

Saudi Arabia will likely step in to provide aid if Bahrain becomes unstable. Bahrain is part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a loose economic and political bloc that also includes, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait.

Christian Shomber, Chief Investment Officer at asset management firm KMEFIC in Kuwait, said: "I am confident the GCC has an interest in getting this resolved quickly."

($1=.3769 Bahraini Dinar)

(Additional reporting by Dinesh Nair in Dubai and Frederik Richter in Manama; editing by Samia Nakhoul)



=================
Two dead as Bahrain police break up protest camp17 Feb 2011 02:44

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Pearl Square mostly cleared of protesters, two dead

* U.S. has major naval base in Bahrain

* Shi'ites demand more say from Sunni ruling family


By Frederik Richter

MANAMA, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Bahraini police broke up a protest camp in a central Manama square on Thursday, killing at least two people, as they tried to end three days of demonstrations inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, witnesses and the opposition said.

"Police are coming, they are shooting teargas at us," one demonstrator told Reuters by telephone. Another said: "I am wounded, I am bleeding. They are killing us."
One protester said he had driven away two people who had been wounded by rubber bullets.

Thousands of overwhelmingly Shi'ite protesters took to the streets this week demanding more say in the Gulf Arab island kingdom where a family of Sunni Muslims rules over a population that mostly belongs to the Shi'ite sect.

Hundreds had camped out at Pearl Square, a road junction in the capital that they sought to turn into the base of a long-running protest like that at Cairo's Tahrir Square which led to the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

But the square appeared nearly empty of protesters early on Thursday after police moved in and was littered with abandoned tents, blankets and rubbish. The smell of teargas wafted through the air and two ambulances were seen rushing from the scene.


A teenager shepherded a sobbing woman into a car, saying she had been separated from her 2-year-old daughter in the chaos. At a main hospital, about 200 people gathered to mourn and protest.

"I was there... The men were running away, but the women and kids could not run as easily, some are still inside (the square)," said Ibrahim Mattar, a parliamentarian from the main Shi'ite opposition Wefaq party, which has walked out of parliament.

"It is confirmed two have died," he said. "More are in critical condition."

<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Factbox on protesters' demands [ID:nLDE71E1RA]

Interactive factbox http://link.reuters.com/puk87r

For related stories on Mideast unrest click [ID:nLDE71F0BK]

Analysis on regional financial impact [ID:nLDE71E0YN]

Background analysis on Bahrain politics [ID:nLDE7170WL]

Factbox on political risks in Bahrain [ID:nRISKBH]

Factbox on political actors in Bahrain [ID:nLDE6780D9]

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On Wednesday the party demanded a new constitution that would move the country toward democracy.

"We are not looking for a religious state. We are looking for a civilian democracy ... in which people are the source of power, and to do that we need a new constitution," the group's general secretary Sheikh Ali Salman told a news conference.
There was no immediate comment from Bahraini officials.


BULWARK

The religious divide that separates Bahrain's ruling family from most of its subjects has led to sporadic unrest since the 1990s, and Bahrain's stability is being closely watched as protest movements blow through North Africa and the Middle East.

It is considered the state most vulnerable to popular unrest in a Gulf Arab region where, in an unwritten pact, rulers have traded a share of their oil wealth for political submission.

Regional power Saudi Arabia, and the United States -- which bases its Fifth Fleet in Bahrain -- both view the ruling Khalifa family as a bulwark against Shi'ite Iran.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa introduced a new constitution giving Bahrainis more political rights a decade ago, but the opposition says he has not gone far enough to introduce democracy. Most of the cabinet are still members of his family.

Protesters have called for him to fire his uncle, Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who has been prime minister since the modern state was founded in 1971. Wefaq members say they want elections for prime minister.

Protesters' wrath had already been stirred up by the deaths of two of their number during this week's demonstrations, the second killed in clashes at the funeral of the first.

"The people demand the fall of the regime!" protesters chanted outside the hospital.
Protesters who on Wednesday had expressed confidence they were secure in the square, said they had no idea their encampment would be broken up. Opposition parliamentarian Sayed Hadi said dozens were wounded.

"There was no single warning. It was like attacking an enemy. People were sleeping peacefully," one demonstrator said, declining to be named.
King Hamad has expressed condolences to relatives of the two dead men killed on Monday and Tuesday and said a committee would investigate. His government says it has detained people suspected of blame for the deaths. (Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Matthew Jones)



===========
US military HQ in Mideast watching Gulf unrest
AP – Demonstrators chant and wave Bahraini flags near the Pearl Monument on a main square in Manama, Bahrain, … .By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer Robert Burns, Ap National Security Writer – 21 mins ago
WASHINGTON – Unrest surging through the Arab world has so far taken no toll on the American military. But that could change if revolt washes over the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain — longtime home to the U.S. Navy's mighty 5th Fleet and arguably the Middle East anchor of U.S. defense strategy.

The discontent that has spilled into the streets of Bahrain's capital, Manama, this week features no anti-American sentiment, but the U.S. has a lot at stake in preserving its dominant naval presence in the Gulf.

In announcing that it is "very concerned" about violence linked to the protests, the State Department on Tuesday underscored Bahrain's strategic importance as a U.S. partner.

"The United States welcomes the government of Bahrain's statements that it will investigate these deaths, and that it will take legal action against any unjustified use of force by Bahraini security forces," said department spokesman P.J. Crowley. "We urge that it follow through on these statements as quickly as possible."


The 5th Fleet operates at least one aircraft carrier in the Gulf at all times, along with an "amphibious ready group" of ships with Marines aboard. Their presence is central to a longstanding U.S. commitment to ensuring the free flow of oil through the Gulf, while keeping an eye on a hostile Iran and seeking to deter piracy in the region.

Anthony Cordesman, a Mideast defense specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Bahrain has security services capable of handling protesters and potentially backed by neighboring Saudi Arabia.
Thousands of banner-waving protesters took over a main square in Manama Tuesday in a bold attempt to copy Egypt's uprising. The demonstrations capped two days of clashes that left at least two people dead, and the king made a rare address on national television to offer condolences for the bloodshed.

"It is a serious problem, but whether it's going to flare up any more seriously this time than all the other times is hard to say," Cordesman said. "The question is whether they can shake the security structure of the state."

The implications for U.S. foreign policy and national security from the pro-democracy movements that have arisen in the Arab world — highlighted by Egypt's stunning revolution — is likely to be a topic Wednesday when Defense Secretary Robert Gates testifies before the House Armed Services Committee.

Bahrain became a more prominent partner for the Pentagon after the 1991 Gulf War with Iraq; since then it has granted U.S. forces increased access, plus permission to store wartime supplies for future crises.
In the weeks leading up to popular revolts that toppled autocratic regimes first in Tunisia and then Egypt, Obama administration officials portrayed Bahrain as being on the right track toward democracy.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, during a visit to Manama in December, called Bahrain "a model partner," not only for the United States but also for other countries in the region seeking political liberalization.

"I am impressed by the commitment that the government has to the democratic path that Bahrain is walking on," Clinton told a news conference Dec. 3, with Foreign Minister Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa at her side. "It takes time; we know that from our own experience. There are obstacles and difficulties along the way. But America will continue working with you to promote a vigorous civil society and to ensure that democracy, human rights and civil liberties are protected by the rule of law."
The tiny island kingdom has been the most volatile in the Gulf. Majority Shiites have long alleged discrimination and other abuses by Sunni rulers. A wave of arrests of Shiite activists last year touched off weeks of protests and clashes — and a highly sensitive trial of 25 Shiites accused of plotting against the state.Bahrain has seen sporadic unrest for decades as Shiites — who represent 70 percent of the nation's 530,000 citizens — press for a greater political voice and opportunities. Reforms in the past decade, including parliamentary elections, have opened more room for Shiites. But they complain the Sunni-directed system still excludes them from any key policymaking roles or top posts in the security forces.

Bahrain is one of four Gulf countries with U.S. Patriot missiles based on their soil to defend against potential attack
=============
Bahrain protesters gather in capital for third day
16 Feb 2011 07:28

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Protesters occupy central roundabout

* Second funeral procession gets under way with hundreds

* Opposition Wefaq to talk to government

* U.S. urges restraint on all sides

(Adds opposition party comment)

By Cynthia Johnston

MANAMA, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Thousands of Shi'ite demonstrators, inspired by popular revolts that toppled rulers in Tunisia and Egypt, poured into Bahrain's capital on Wednesday to mourn for a second protestor killed in clashes this week.

Several hundred gathered at a funeral procession for a man shot dead when police and mourners clashed at an earlier funeral procession on Tuesday.

"The people demand the fall of the regime!" protesters chanted, with the men pounding their chests, a Shi'ite symbol of sacrifice and anguish.

For the moment, protestors are calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa rather than King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, who has the final say in politics.

Sheikh Khalifa, the king's uncle, has governed the Gulf Arab state since its independence in 1971 and is seen as being mostly concerned with keeping the ruling family's grip on politics and the economy.

Bahrain's main stock index <.BAX> was flat on Wednesday, trading slightly higher near four month-highs. Stability concerns have raised the cost of insuring Bahrain's debt to their highest levels since August 2009.

"We are requesting our rights in a peaceful way," said Bakr Akil, a 20 year-old university student, wearing a sheet stained with red ink that he said was a symbol of his willingness to sacrifice his life for freedom. [ID:nLDE71E1RA]

"I am optimistic that our big presence will achieve our demands," Akil said.

Women dressed in black abaya cloaks followed the procession with their own chants calling for peace and Bahraini unity.

Elsewhere in central Manama, witnesses said about 2,000 protestors had spent the night in tents at Bahrain's Pearl Roundabout, similar to the number marching on the streets a day earlier.

It remains to be seen whether the number would rise or fall during Wednesday. Some will have to return to work, after a public holiday on Tuesday to mark the Prophet Mohammed's birthday.

Police kept their distance, mostly confining themselves to a nearby dirt lot with dozens of SUV police vehicles. The ministry of Interior announced that all roads were open.

The demonstrators from Bahrain's Shi'ite majority say the ruling Sunni minority shuts them out of housing, healthcare and government jobs.

The main Shi'ite opposition bloc Wefaq, which boycotted parliament to protest the clampdown by Sunni security forces, said it would hold talks with the government on Wednesday.

"We support the people here, we are not the decision makers," said Ibrahim Mattar, a Wefaq parliamentarian who had joined the funeral procession.

"The people are the decision makers," Mattar said, adding that Wefaq would call for direct election of the prime minister.


DEMOGRAPHIC BALANCE

Activists say they also want the release of political prisoners, which the government has promised, and the creation of a new constitution.

Poverty, high unemployment and alleged attempts by the state to grant citizenship to Sunni foreigners to change the demographic balance have intensified discontent among Bahrain's Shi'ites.

About half of the tiny island kingdom's 1.3 million people are Bahraini, the rest being foreign workers.

Analysts say large-scale unrest in Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and a regional offshore banking centre, could embolden marginalised Shi'ites in nearby Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter.

"The United States is very concerned by recent violence surrounding protests in Bahrain," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement. "We also call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence."
King Hamad expressed his condolences for "the deaths of two of our dear sons" in a televised speech and said a committee would investigate the killings.

Bahrain, in a move appeared aimed at preventing Shi'ite discontent from boiling over, had offered cash payouts of around 1,000 dinars ($2,650) per family in the run-up to this week's protests. (For an interactive factbox on protests in the Middle East and Africa, please click on http://link.reuters.com/puk87r) (Reporting by Frederik Richter; Writing by Reed Stevenson; editing by Matthew Jones)



=============
'Silent revolt underway in Bahrain'Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:12PM
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Bahraini protesters gather in capital Manama, February 15, 2011.Bahrain is undergoing a silent revolt by pro-democracy protesters despite a violent crackdown backed by the US and Saudi Arabia, a political analyst says.


“Bahrain has been simmering under a veil of anger and contempt for the ruling Al Khalifa who have stolen the country of Bahrain, its future, its wealth and its freedom,” Ali al-Ahmed, the director of Institute for (Persian) Gulf Affairs (IGA) said in an interview with Press TV.

The IGA official was referring to the kingdom's royal family headed by King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Ahmed said Bahrain was “one of the most corrupt oppressive regimes in the Persian Gulf so it is a strong candidate for revolution.”

Bahrain, which has long been the scene of anti-government protests, has been seriously shaken by the shockwaves of the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and protests against Western-backed governments in Arab and North African nations.

But unlike the rulers in Egypt and Jordan, Manama has declined reforms to appease protesters and has instead resorted to violence against demonstrators.

“The government of Bahrain is supported by other countries such as the US, which gives aid,” Ahmed said.

“And there is a huge naval base in Bahrain that was given by the ruling family there and this is one of the reasons that the American government has been supporting clearly the monarchy in Bahrain,” he added.

He went on to say that Saudi Arabia also plays a role by supporting the monarchy in Bahrain, fearing similar uprisings by its own population and pro-democracy protesters in other Arab countries.

“The Bahraini government itself is weak. If it was not supported by the US and the Saudi monarchy, it would not take it but a few days to flee,”
he concluded.

===
Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed
Protesters sit at a temporary media center area off the Pearl Roundabout, a famous landmark of Bahrain, in the heart of its capital Manama. More photos »
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– Tue Feb 15, 6:54 pm ET
MANAMA (Reuters) – Shi'ite protesters camped out in Bahrain's capital to press their demands for political change after a day of unrest inspired by popular revolts that toppled rulers in Tunisia and Egypt.

A funeral is planned on Wednesday morning for a man shot dead when police and mourners clashed on Tuesday at a funeral procession for Ali Mushaima, a 22-year-old killed the day before in clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

As evening fell on Tuesday, the number of protesters in the encampment at Bahrain's Pearl Roundabout dwindled to around 1,000 from an earlier 2,000, according to witnesses.

It remained to be seen whether the number would rise or fall during Wednesday. Some people will have to return to work, after a public holiday on Tuesday to mark the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed.

The demonstrators from Bahrain's Shi'ite majority say the ruling Sunni minority shuts them out of housing, healthcare and government jobs.

The main Shi'ite opposition bloc Wefaq, which boycotted parliament to protest the clampdown by Sunni security forces, said it would hold talks with the government on Wednesday.

Protesters said their main demand was the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who has governed the Gulf Arab state since its independence in 1971.

An uncle of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, he is thought to own much land and is seen as a symbol of the wealth of the ruling family.
Click image to see photos of protests in Bahrain


Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed
DEMOGRAPHIC BALANCE

Activists say they also want the release of political prisoners, which the government has promised, and the creation of a new constitution.
Poverty, high unemployment and alleged attempts by the state to grant citizenship to Sunni foreigners to change the demographic balance have intensified discontent among Bahrain's Shi'ites.

Around half of the tiny island kingdom's 1.3 million people are Bahraini, the rest being foreign workers.

Analysts say large-scale unrest in Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and a regional offshore banking center, could embolden marginalized Shi'ites in nearby Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter.

King Hamad expressed his condolences for "the deaths of two of our dear sons" in a televised speech and said a committee would investigate the killings.
Bahrain, in a move appeared aimed at preventing Shi'ite discontent from boiling over, had offered cash payouts of around 1,000 dinars ($2,650) per family in the run-up to this week's protests.

(Reporting by Frederik Richter; writing by Reed Stevenson; editing by Andrew Roche)



=============

BAGHDAD (AP) – Bahrain stripped a powerful Shia cleric with close ties to Iraq of his citizenship as authorities Monday widened a crackdown against alleged dissidents ahead of next month's elections in the Persian Gulf nation.

The move against Ayatollah Hussein al-Najati — the Bahraini representative of Iraq's most powerful Shia figure — shows the increasingly hard line by the island kingdom's Sunni leadership against the majority Shias, who have religious and cultural ties to both Iraq and Iran.

A wave of arrests in Bahrain since August have touched off street clashes and demonstrations across the country, which is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Now the attempt the put al-Najati into political exile could draw in Iraq's influential Shia religious leaders and the political groups that dominate government. Al-Najati is the Bahrain representative for Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country's most influential Shia political cleric.

There was no immediate comment from al-Sistani's office.

Al-Najati is one of Bahrain's leading Shia scholars and — like his mentor al-Sistani in Iraq — his voice carries great weight in political affairs. He has spoken out about the crackdowns on the Shias in Bahrain, but any direct role in the unrest is not clear.

An Interior Ministry statement issued in Bahrain's capital, Manama, said the passports for al-Najati, his wife and three children were revoked because their Bahraini nationality was not obtained “through the appropriate legal means.”

Bahraini officials have not elaborated, but it appears that al-Najati and his family would revert to the “stateless” status that confronted many Bahraini Shias before political reforms a decade ago.


Al-Najati was born in Bahrain and did religious studies in Iraq and Iran. He and his family obtained Bahraini nationality in 2001 under political reforms by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa — who also opened the way for parliamentary elections.

But Shia authorities across the Middle East certainly are closely watching Bahrain's tactics against suspected Shia opposition groups ahead of parliamentary elections on Oct. 23.

Sunni governments across the region supporting Bahrain's ruling dynasty and its escalating pressure on the 70 percent Shia majority could risk a backlash.

It also throws into question whether Bahrain will remain committed to the political opening that began a decade ago and has been seen as the main democratic experiment in the Persian Gulf.

More than 250 Shias have been detained since mid-August and Bahrain has accused 23 political activists and others of plotting to overthrow the government. Last week, Bahrain closed the semi-independent Human Rights Society and replaced the board with people chosen by the leadership.

On Monday, security officials announced the arrests of four people accused of setting tires ablaze and throwing firebombs during riots earlier this month. The detentions come at the same time as renewed pressure on Shia clerics with the king last month ordering authorities to closely watch religious forums.

“This is the worst crackdown on human rights,” said Mohammed al-Tajer, the lawyer representing 15 of the 23 coup suspects. “We are all banned from talking about the events of the last few weeks, but I can't keep quiet about these violations.”


But there are signals that Bahrain's leaders now feel under attack and are ready to use all means to strike back at perceived threats.

King Hamad told a cabinet meeting Sunday that Bahrain would not be a “spring board” for unrest in the region and called on citizens and authorities to unite in “fighting terrorism so that Bahrain be safe and secured,” Kuwait's official news agency KUNA reported.

Just hours before the decision on al-Najati, Bahraini officials reportedly issued a two-week ban on sermons by another prominent Shia cleric, Sheik Abdul Jaleel al-Miqdad, who has denounced the arrests against Shias.

Bahrain's Shias have long complained of discrimination in state jobs and housing and claim they are barred from influential posts in the security forces.

Bahrain, with about 530,000 nationals on an island smaller than New York City, was once an international business hub for the Persian Gulf, but that role has been mostly eclipsed by Dubai and Qatar's capital, Doha, in the past decade.

Instead, Bahrain has banked on its strategic role as the center for U.S. Naval operations in the region.

Bahrain maintains good ties with Iran despite the underlying tensions with Shias.

Photo: Ayatollah Hussein al-Najati


=======================


By BRIAN MURPHY, Associated Press Writer Brian Murphy, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 24 mins ago

BAGHDAD – Bahrain's king warned that mosques would be key targets in sweeps against suspected Shiite dissent in his tiny Gulf nation and vital U.S. ally. The first blow was a big one: stripping the citizenship of a powerful Shiite cleric with close ties to Iraq before next month's parliamentary elections.

The move is seen as stern warning by the kingdom's Sunni rulers as they struggle to hold down protests by the majority Shiites, who claim they are the targets of discrimination and suspicion for their ancestral bonds with the Shiite centers Iran and Iraq.

But the showdown in Bahrain — an island no bigger in area than New York City — speaks of wider stakes for the region and Washington.

Unrest in Bahrain comes right to the doorstep of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, which is the Navy's front-line flotilla against Iran. Bahrain also has been the main experiment with democratic reforms in the Gulf. Any rollback could harden the political positions of Sunni leaders from Kuwait to the United Arab Emirates and feed their perceptions of being in a fight against Iranian influence.


"This is happening to discourage open political debate," said Stephen McInerney, a director at the Project on Middle East Democracy in Washington.

Bahrain's move on Sunday against Ayatollah Hussein al-Najati — the Bahraini representative of Iraq's most powerful Shiite figure — is the strongest swipe against the nation's Shiite clergy. But it was clear something was coming.

In a blunt message last month, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said "religious forums" would come under scrutiny by authorities. This was an unmistakable reference to Shiite religious leaders seen as fueling the clashes and demonstrations that began in August after security forces arrested a top Shiite political activist.

It was even more notable because King Hamad is the father of Bahrain's political openings a decade ago — including parliamentary elections and a greater political voice for Shiites, who comprise 70 percent of the population.

There is no real danger to Bahrain's Sunni dynasty even if Shiite candidates take control of the 40-seat chamber in the Oct. 23 balloting. The lawmakers cannot bring down the leadership or overrule key decisions. But parliament can serve as a forum for Shiites to express grievances and raise uncomfortable questions such as having the rulers account for their spending.

"The reputation that King Hamad enjoyed of trying to make a more democratic country has slowly reversed in the last four or five years," said McInerney.

So far, Bahrain's latest crackdowns have brought few regional ripples.

But the attempt the put the cleric al-Najati into political exile could draw in Iraq's influential Shiite religious leaders and the political groups that dominate government. Al-Najati is the Bahrain representative for Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country's most influential Shiite political cleric.

There was no immediate comment from al-Najati or al-Sistani's office in Iraq.

More than 250 Shiites have been detained since mid-August and Bahrain has accused 23 political activists and others of plotting to overthrow the government. Last week, Bahrain closed the semi-independent Human Rights Society and replaced the board with people chosen by the leadership.

On Monday, security officials announced the arrests of at least 11 people accused of setting tires ablaze and throwing firebombs during riots.

"This is the worst crackdown on human rights," said Mohammed al-Tajer, the lawyer representing 15 of the 23 coup suspects. "We are all banned from talking about the events of the last few weeks, but I can't keep quiet about these violations."

Al-Najati is one of Bahrain's leading Shiite scholars and — like his mentor al-Sistani in Iraq — his voice carries great weight in political affairs. He has spoken out about the crackdowns, but any direct role in the unrest is not clear.

An Interior Ministry statement issued in Bahrain's capital, Manama, said the passports for al-Najati, his wife and three children were revoked because their Bahraini nationality was not obtained "through the appropriate legal means."

Bahraini officials have not elaborated, but it appears that al-Najati and his family would revert to the "stateless" status that confronted many Bahraini Shiites before political reforms. Stateless citizens in Bahrain can travel on special permits, but they cannot vote and do not receive state assistance such as housing aid. It also could set the stage for their eventual expulsion.

Al-Najati was born in Bahrain and did religious studies in Iraq and Iran. He and his family obtained Bahraini nationality in 2001 under King Hamad's reforms.

King Hamad told a cabinet meeting Sunday that Bahrain would not be a "spring board" for unrest in the region.

Just hours before the decision on al-Najati, Bahraini officials reportedly issued a two-week ban on sermons by another prominent Shiite cleric, Sheik Abdul Jaleel al-Miqdad, who has denounced the arrests against Shiites.

The past years have not been generous to Bahrain. The island — with about 530,000 nationals — was once the international business hub for the Gulf, but that role has been mostly eclipsed by Dubai and Qatar's capital, Doha.

Instead, Bahrain has banked on its strategic role as the center for U.S. Naval operations in the region. Bahrain also maintains good ties with Iran despite the underlying tensions with Shiites.

Kuwait, meanwhile, has been more open about decrying Iranian influence.

In August, Kuwait indicted seven people, including a Kuwaiti soldier and an Iranian woman, on charges of spying for Iran. Tehran denied the charges.

Kuwait, which has its own Sunni-Shiite tensions, has now banned large demonstrations and meetings dealing with sectarian topics.

Kuwait's Defense Minister Sheik Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah — who is also acting prime minister — claimed Sunday there are groups seeking to "drag us into hateful strife" and exploit a "fragility in the society which we must avert as much as possible," state agency KUNA reported.

___

Associated Press writer Hadeel al-Shalchi in Cairo contributed to this report.


=====

Blogger Arrest Galvanizes Internet: This Week in Online Tyranny
By Curt Hopkins / September 10, 2010 3:00 PM / 3 Comments
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abdulemam.jpgAli Abdulemam arrested - Internet actually cares. The big (and bad) news this week was the arrest of Bahraini blogger and forum moderator Ali Abdulemam. He was arrested as part of a crackdown against democratic speech in the country.

Abdulemam was well-liked and proved to be an inspiration for bloggers in the Arabic and Muslim worlds. He was a family man and was big on engagement. In part because of who he was, in part because of how blatant the falsehoods that powered his arrest were, his arrest has lit up the Internet in a way that no imprisoned blogger has in years.

Tunisian blogger Sami Ben Gharbia had this to say about Ali.

"He (is) a pioneer among Arab activists, using the internet to militate for peaceful reform. He inspired many young Bahrainis and Arabs to use the internet to express themselves and engage in spirited debate."

bahrain.jpgJillian York, project coordinator at the Berkman Center and blogger, agreed and elaborated.

"I've worked on 3-4 campaigns in the past year and though all get plenty of local (in-country) attention, few make the major headlines that this one has, and few mobilize people globally. I think it's probably fair to say there are two major reasons for this beyond who Ali is (a likable, well-known blogger): a) his connection to the Global Voices community and b) a large, global, multilingual core group of people working on the campaign."

As even the most casual reader of this column will know, online freedom, in every country, is getting its teeth kicked in these days. "Time to get off our fat cop asses and ride."

Visit the Free Ali site or our previous post for suggestions and links on how to help.


=====



FACTBOX-Key political risks to watch in Bahrain




By Frederik Richter

MANAMA | Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:01am EDT

MANAMA Oct 20 (Reuters) - Bahrain holds on Saturday a parliamentary vote that the Shi'ite Muslim majority doubt will win it greater representation in the country's decision-making, long dominated by the Sunni elite.

The government, led by the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa dynasty, is tightly controlling the elections by making changes to voting districts that prevent the Shi'ite opposition from gaining a majority, fuelling Shi'ite suspicions that the decade-old country's reform process only served to co-opt them.

The United States and top oil producer Saudi Arabia see Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, as a Sunni bulwark against neighbouring Shi'ite regional power Iran.


Bahrain's off-shore investment houses have been hit hard by a regional property crash and political influence on banking supervision could prevent foreign investors from assessing the full extent of the damage.


SHI'ITE UNREST

The Al Khalifa family rules over 1.3 million people, around half of whom are expatriates. The majority of Bahrainis are Shi'ites who complain of discrimination in government jobs, housing and health care, an accusation the government denies.

Shi'ites also want their government to stop granting Sunnis from outside Bahrain citizenship and jobs in the armed forces and national security services to try and change the demographic balance.

These issues lie at at the heart of deep-seated Shi'ite discontent, expressed in on-an-off unrest since the mid 1990s.

The Gulf Arab state's largest Shi'ite political group Wefaq, holding 17 out of 40 seats in the current assembly, is competing with Sunni Islamist groups and secular group Waad for parliament seats in a country whose stability is important for Washington.

Bahrain is a small oil producer that in the long-term needs to phase out subsidies and introduce taxes to reduce its fiscal deficit and stem infrastructure investments.

It will be hard for the government to push through economic reforms without granting more political participation in return.

The introduction of a new constitution and parliamentary elections a decade ago helped quell the Shi'ite unrest, but tensions have risen again in recent years as Shi'ites have been disappointed with the assembly's limited clout.

Regular night-time clashes between young protesters burning tyres and security forces have been limited to some Shi'ite villages, below the radar of the bankers working in Manama's commercial districts.

The protests have not had any impact on foreign investments or money inflows, but an anti-Shi'ite security crackdown ahead of the polls could make it harder for moderate groups such as Wefaq, the biggest Shi'ite bloc

=========
What to watch for in parliament, to take part in future dialogue with the government.
MANAMA | Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:01am EDT

During the crackdown some 23 men, including some Shi'ite clerics, were arrested and accused of plotting to overturn the political system in a coup, partly through instigating protests.

The government also said last month that it had arrested two people who it said had planned a series of car bombings. This would have been an escalation of violence, but details provided by the government were sketchy and could not be verified.

What to watch out for:

-A spread of street protests away from Shi'ite villages into the capital Manama and its commercial districts.

-The use of more sophisticated weapons than the fire bombs sometimes hurled at police cars.

-Any comment by Wefaq that would suggest the group is considering boycotting future elections.

IRAN CONFLICT

Gulf Arab states fear the rising regional influence of Shi'ite power Iran and share the suspicion of their Western allies that Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapons capability. Iran says it wants nuclear power only for electricity generation.

Observers say Iran's influence in the country is limited as Bahraini Shi'ites look to clerics in the more moderate centres of their faith in Iraq, such as Kerbala and Najaf.

The United States and Israel, Iran's main foes, do not rule out military action if diplomacy fails to end the nuclear row. The U.S. Navy large base in Manama would make Bahrain an obvious target for any Iranian retaliation.

Bahrain has very close political and commercial ties with its neighbour Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Arab power that is particularly wary of Iran.

The naval base in Manama allows Saudi Arabia to enjoy U.S. military protection of its oil installations and the Gulf waterways, on which its oil exports depend, without any controversial presence of Western troops on its ground.

========
Lack of progress in talks between Iran and the West.

-Any sign for a military strike against Iran.

ENERGY SUPPLY

Bahrain, like its Gulf Arab neighbours, has seen a rapid increase in natural gas consumption as its economy has grown with a petrodollar-fuelled boom in the region.

It consumed 1.3 billion cubic feet of gas per day in 2007 and expects consumption to rise to 2 billion cubic feet per day in about 10 years.

The country needs to close some of that gap through imports, but regional politics have burdened its talks with gas exporters, threatening its economic growth.

Aluminium Bahrain [ALNUB.UL] (Alba) plans to launch an initial public offering later this year and has had to postpone an expansion of its production capacity, partially due to the lack of energy.

Bahrain has held talks with neighbouring Qatar, the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), but the recent reappearance of diplomatic tension between the two countries after settling a border dispute make any deal very unlikely.

Bahrain is also in talks with Iran to import 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, but progress has been slow.

What to watch for:

-Lack of progress on talks with Iran over gas imports. They were halted for much of 2009 after an Iranian official made comments that appeared to question the country's sovereignty.

BANKING SYSTEM

Bahrain has established itself as a regional banking hub catering to the Gulf's oil wealth. Its banks hold assets of about $211 billion.
But its investment houses failed to build up sustainable revenue streams during the region's oil and property boom that collapsed in 2008 as they relied on fees raised on real estate and private equity projects, a market that has since collapsed.

Gulf Finance House GFHB.BH (GFH), a poster child for the sector during the boom years, has struggled to repay its debt as it could not sell its illiquid assets or find new income.

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) was seen as a solid regulator in the region alongside the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA).

But bankers say the true extent of damage done to the sector is hidden from investors as the CBB is above all concerned with protecting the reputation of Bahrain as a banking hub and could shy away from sending companies into default.

They question in particular is whether the current valuations of investment houses' real estate portfolios reflect the property crash in 2008.

Some investment houses such as GFH have also partnered with Bahrain's ruling family in real estate projects on Bahrain's north coast, making conflicts of interest and political influence on banking supervision very likely, bankers say.

What to watch for:

-Any defaults of Bahraini investment houses.

-Whether or not the larger institutions such as GFH and Arcapita are able to find new revenue streams over the coming quarters.

* For political risks to watch in other countries, please click on [ID:nEMEARISK]

(Reporting by Frederik Richter; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)


=====


Protesters, police clash in Bahrain on "Day of Rage"

14 Feb 2011 14:02

Source: reuters // Reuters


* At least 14 injured in small-scale clashes

* Helicopters circle Manama, heavy security in villages

(Adds Diraz protest broken up, quotes, protester demands)

By Frederik Richter

NUWEIDRAT, Bahrain, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Protesters clashed with police in Bahrain on Monday as the government tightened security in the Gulf island state for an opposition "Day of Rage" inspired by upheaval in Egypt and Tunisia. Helicopters circled over the capital Manama, where protesters were due to gather later in the day, and security forces tightened their grip on Shi'ite communities.

At least 14 people were wounded in clashes in three villages overnight and on Monday. Police broke up one protest with teargas and rubber bullets.

Bahrain, where a Sunni family rules over a Shi'ite majority, has offered cash payouts in the run-up to the protest, in a move that appears to be aimed at preventing Shi'ite discontent from bubbling over as popular revolts spread in the Arab world.

In the village of Diraz, authorities dispersed with teargas about 100 Shi'ite protesters who had squared off with police, shouting slogans demanding more political rights.

"We don't want to overthrow the ruling family, we just want to have our say," said Ali Jassem, married to a daughter of Sheikh Issa Qassem, a powerful Bahrain Shi'ite cleric.

Diplomats say Bahrain's demonstrations, organised on Facebook and Twitter, will gauge whether a larger base of Shiites can be drawn to the streets. The big test will be if protests take hold in Manama, where demonstrations are rare.

"We call on all Bahraini people -- men, women, boys and girls -- to share in our rallies in a peaceful and civilised way to guarantee a stable and promising future for ourselves and our children," Bahrain activists said in a statement on Twitter.

"We would like to stress that Feb. 14 is only the beginning. The road may be long and the rallies may continue for days and weeks, but if a people one day chooses life, then destiny will respond."
Analysts say large-scale unrest in Bahrain could embolden marginalised Shiites in nearby Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter.

There was no immediate comment from Bahraini authorities.


TEARGAS, RUBBER BULLETS

Bahrain is a small oil-producing country whose Shi'ite population has long complained of discrimination by the ruling Sunni al-Khalifa family, well before popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt emboldened activists throughout the region.

Tension was high in Shi'ite villages on Monday.

In the village of Nuweidrat, police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd demanding the release of Shi'ite detainees, and 10 people were hurt, witnesses said.

"There were 2,000 sitting in the street voicing their demands when police started firing," 24-year-old Kamel told Reuters, declining to give his full name. Nearby, streets were littered with teargas canisters and rubber bullets.

The scene was different in Manama, where government supporters honked car horns and waved Bahraini flags to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a national charter introduced after unrest in the 1990s.

In Karzakan, where security forces regularly skirmish with Shiite youths, police clashed late on Sunday with residents and one person was injured, witnesses said. Police said three officers were hurt.

The cost of insuring Bahrain's 5-year sovereign debt widened by 10 basis points on Monday, according to Markit, in a sign investors were worried about stability.

Protest organisers say they want the dissolution of Bahrain's constitution, to be replaced with a new version penned by a committee that includes both Sunnis and Shiites.

They want the country's prime minister to be directly elected by the people, and demand the release of "all political prisoners", and an investigation of torture allegations.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, trying to defuse the tension, said he would give 1,000 dinars ($2,650) to each local family, and the government has indicated that it may free minors arrested under a security crackdown last year.
Non-OPEC Bahrain, which unlike Gulf Arab peers has little spare cash to use for social problems, has also said it would spend an extra $417 million on social items, including food subsidies, reversing attempts to prepare the public for cuts. (Reporting by Frederik Richter; Writing by Cynthia Johnston; editing by Maria Golovnina)

====

Sectarian clashes erupt in Bahrain03 Mar 2011 21:44

Source: reuters // Reuters


HAMAD TOWN, Bahrain, March 3 (Reuters) - Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims clashed in a town in Bahrain on Thursday, the first direct confrontation between the two sides since large scale protests erupted in the kingdom's main city two weeks ago.

Residents said a group of Shi'ites fought with a group of Sunnis and what they said were Bahrainis of Syrian extraction.

"There were about a hundred people involved," one resident said.

Police helicopters circled overhead and two ambulances rushed from the scene. Youth with sticks and batons were also leaving the area.

The protesters camped out in the capital want political reform and better access to government jobs for the country's Shi'ite majority, which has long complained of second class status and discrimination. The government denies this.

The clash came on the same day that Bahraini opposition groups said they were now ready to enter into talks with the government without pre-conditions, but have sent a letter to the crown prince saying they want a new government and constitution.

A Sunni royal family rules the country of 1.2 million, half of whom are native Bahrainis, and a majority of those Shi'ite.

The protests in the capital Manama have been largely free of violence after police withdrew following an initial crackdown that killed seven.

The crowds, which also include some Sunnis, have been careful to avoid sectarian tones and instead stuck to calls for national freedom and unity.

Residents in Hamad said fighting died down when police forces arrived. Later there was a standoff between riot police and groups of Shi'ites who rushed to the area from other parts of Bahrain.

"One man fell down and a large group came and beat him. There's still groups with sticks everywhere but fighting has largely stopped," one witness said. (Reporting by Frederik Richter; Editing by Matthew Jones)


===

Iraqi Shi'ites want Saudis to withdraw from Bahrain
23 Apr 2011 14:25

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Hundreds protest against Saudi troops in Bahrain

* Highlights Iraq's own sectarian divisions


BAGHDAD, April 23 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Iraqi Shi'ites rallied in Baghdad on Saturday to demand the immediate withdrawal of Saudi troops from Bahrain, which has sparked reminders of Iraq's own sectarian divide.

Shi'ites in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran have expressed anger over the movement of forces from Sunni Arab states into Bahrain to help its Sunni royal family squash pro-democracy rallies by majority Shi'ites.

Protesters in central Baghdad on Saturday chanted "no to al-Saud". Some carried banners which read "Saudi occupation should end" and "Why is there Arab silence towards the massacres committed in Bahrain?".
"We advise (our) brothers in Saudi Arabia to immediately withdraw from Bahrain," Hadi al-Amiri, Iraq's transportation minister and head of the Badr Organisation, which arranged the protest, said in an address to demonstrators.
Badr is the former armed wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (ISCI), a main faction in Iraq's Shi'ite alliance, which also includes that of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Maliki has criticised the intervention by Gulf states in Bahrain and said it could spark a sectarian war in the region.

Like Bahrain, Iraq has a Shi'ite majority that complained for decades of oppression under a Sunni ruling class which is dominant throughout the Arab world.
Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion which toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein and enabled the Shi'ite majority to take power, Baghdad has had uneasy relations with Sunni neighbours.

Neighbouring Sunni countries have been unnerved by the Shi'ite-led uprising in Bahrain and Gulf Arab rulers have accused non-Arab Shi'ite Iran of interfering.

Amri criticised Bahraini authorities for suppressing its Shi'ite population and asked the Arab League and human rights groups to do fact-finding missions in the Gulf Arab kingdom.

"Barbarian acts against people asking for freedom should stop and the Saudi occupation is not tolerated anymore," Hadi al-Ghurabi, a Shi'ite cleric said. (Reporting by Hadeer Abbas; Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Serena Chaudhry)

===


Bahrain police clash with Shi'ite religious marchers

05 Jun 2011 22:17

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Several wounded in village near Manama - opposition

* Opposition official: attack may worsen tensions in Bahrain

* Gov't official: no widespread clashes, situation calm

By Erika Solomon

MANAMA, June 5 (Reuters) - Bahraini police clashed with Shi'ite marchers in a religious festival late on Sunday, less than a week after the Gulf kingdom repealed an emergency law that quashed weeks of protests.

Residents and leading Shi'ite opposition group Wefaq said police used tear gas, rubber bullets, sound grenades and birdshot to break up marches in several Shi'ite villages around the capital Manama.

Some of the gatherings were purely religious, residents said, while others took on a political tone as marchers shouted "Down, down (King) Hamad" and "The people want the fall of the regime."

Residents said several people were wounded in the village of Sitra, and a house had been set ablaze as clashes there continued.

"We condemn this attack, this kind of attack will make the situation even worse," said Sayyed Hady, of Wefaq. "This event is so, so normal in Bahrain, we've been doing it for centuries ... the authorities said they won't attack religious events, but this is what they did."

The unrest comes just two days after the tiny island kingdom's Formula One Grand Prix was reinstated. Its original March date had been postponed due to widespread protests at the time.

In March, Bahrain's Sunni rulers called in troops from neighbouring Sunni led Gulf Arab countries to quash weeks of protests led mostly by members of its majority Shi'ite population who were demanding democratic reforms. Hardliners had called for a republic.

Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, has said the Saudi and Emirati forces would remain in the country indefinitely to help face a perceived threat from Shi'ite Muslim power Iran, across a short stretch of water from Bahrain.

A government official denied any widespread clashes around Manama on Sunday.

"There are no clashes really, there were some outlaws who caused some problems but these were small incidents that were quickly stopped. The situation is stable and back to normal," he told Reuters.

Reuters journalists were unable to verify the reports, as police set up checkpoints sealing off many Shi'ite areas. But shouts could be heard and tear gas was smelt in several areas.

Shi'ite villagers, some beating their chests and chanting religious verses as they marched through the streets, were marking the festival of Azza, which commerates the death of one of the 12 Imams, of their Shi'ite faith. (Additional reporting by Hamad Mohammed; Editing by Jon Hemming)

===

Shi'ite cleric warns Bahrain nearing "abyss"

10 Jun 2011 16:27

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Cleric: no sign of reforms, country heading to brink

* Govt says July talks will discuss all types of reform

MANAMA, June 10 (Reuters) - A top Bahraini Shi'ite cleric said trials of dozens of people and the breaking up of Shi'ite religious marches were dragging the country towards destruction, not reconciliation, ahead of a planned national dialogue.

State officials have promised the talks, which King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said would start on July 1, can discuss all types of democratic reforms in the country, rocked by anti-government protests that were quashed by security forces in March.

But Sheikh Issa Qasim, the most revered Shi'ite cleric in Bahrain, told a crowd of hundreds in his Friday sermon that current conditions did not match government rhetoric.

"This country is being brought closer to an abyss of terrifying destruction unless quick reforms are offered to satisfy the people," he said.

Opposition groups say hundreds of people, most of them Shi'ite, have been put on trial on charges ranging from illegal gatherings and fabricated news to plotting a coup with foreign terrorist organisations. They say over 1,000 people remain in detention. The government says the numbers are much lower.

Bahrain's Sunni rulers said the democracy protests earlier this year, led mostly by the country's Shi'ite majority, had a sectarian agenda and help from Iran. The opposition denies this.

Emergency law was lifted last week, and since then small protests have broken out daily in Shi'ite neighborhoods that are quickly broken up by riot police.

Sheikh Abdul-Aziz bin Mubarak al-Khalifa, Senior International Counselor from the Information Affairs Authority, has encouraged protesters to stop and instead focus on national dialogue. "We hope people will channel their energy in a more positive direction," he said.

On Friday, Sheikh Issa sounded defiant, saying: "People are supposed to be silent and support the current politics ... The reality on the ground says there is no reform."

Cheers erupted across the mosque: "The people call for reform, the people call for the release of the prisoners!"

Tensions rose after a raid on Shi'ite religious processions on Sunday. Police broke up the marches and arrested several people for what they said were disturbances and exploitation of religious events for illegal political chants.

Residents said some marches had shouted "Death to al-Khalifa" and "Down with the regime" but insisted others stuck to religious slogans.

"It's clear that refusing these celebrations is a rejection of Shi'ite existence in this country," Sheikh Issa said.

(Reporting by Erika Solomon, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

===

Kuwait ruler warns against unrest, security threats

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KUWAIT | Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:26pm BST

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait's emir said Wednesday the Gulf state would show "zero tolerance" to anyone threatening the OPEC oil exporter's security, after the opposition held weekly rallies demanding that the prime minister step down.

Thanks to a generous welfare system, Kuwait has avoided the mass protests that have forced out the rulers of Egypt and Tunisia.

But the Gulf Arab state has endured a long political stalemate, and opposition has built up against Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah, an influential member of the ruling family. Several hundred people have held weekly peaceful rallies to demand his resignation.

"I have asked the interior minister to continue to take measures to protect Kuwait's security and stability and to show zero tolerance towards anyone who tries to compromise the security of the country," Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said in a speech carried by state media.

Sheikh Sabah also complained of "practices in parliament which are outside the framework of the constitution and beyond the requirements of national interests."

Opposition members of the parliament, the most outspoken such assembly in the Gulf Arab region, have frequently asked to question the prime minister on issues ranging from alleged misuse of public funds to harming national security and relations with Arab countries by favouring ties with Iran.

Sheikh Nasser answered some of the questions in a closed session Tuesday, but apparently failed to satisfy the questioning MPs who entered a motion against the prime minister which is to be discussed next week. Such opposition motions have failed to gain majority support in the past.

Kuwait, which sits on 10 percent of global crude reserves, grants more political freedom than Gulf neighbours such as Saudi Arabia where few dare criticise the government or members of the ruling family.

But tensions between the government and parliament, which approves major bills and the budget, have delayed legislation aimed at attracting investment to diversify the economy away from oil.

(Reporting by Eman Goma; writing by Firouz Sedarat)

===

Bahraini prince to wed Saudi princess
Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:17AM
Share | Email | Print
Saudi King Abdullah (right) and Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (second from right) watch a camel race on the outskirts of Riyadh. (file photo)
The son of the Bahraini king and the daughter of the Saudi king have agreed to wed, according to Bahrain's official news agency.


The Bahrain News Agency said the Bahraini king's son, Sheik Khalid bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, is to marry the daughter of Saudi Arabia's monarch, AP reported on Friday.

However, the report did not mention the woman's name or where and when the wedding would take place.

The wedding is seen as a strategic family alliance meant to strengthen ties between the two Persian Gulf kingdoms.

Since mid-February, thousands of anti-regime demonstrators in Bahrain have staged regular protests in the streets, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.

In mid-March, Saudi-led forces were dispatched to the Persian Gulf island nation upon Manama's request to help quell the nationwide protests.

According to local sources, hundreds have been arrested during the government's clampdown on the peaceful demonstrations.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized the Bahraini regime for its brutal crackdown on demonstrators.


==

Bahrain opposition figures handed life sentences

22 Jun 2011 14:29

Source: reuters // Reuters

(Corrects number of those sentenced to life imprisonment after officials clarify names and aliases of those sentenced)

* Activists, opposition figures sentenced to life in prison

* Defendants cry out "peaceful" struggle after verdict

* Wefaq: July talks in question in current atmosphere

By Erika Solomon

MANAMA, June 22 (Reuters) - Bahrain sentenced eight prominent Shi'ite Muslim activists and opposition leaders to life in prison on Wednesday on charges of plotting a coup during protests in the Gulf island kingdom earlier this year.

The sentencing could inflame tension in the Gulf Arab state where demonstrators have mounted scattered daily protests since emergency law was lifted on June 1. It may also undermine the basis for a national dialogue planned to start next month.

Seconds after the verdict was issued, one of 21 defendants lined up in grey prison suits shouted: "We will continue our peaceful struggle." Other defendants responded by shaking their fists and shouting "peaceful, peaceful".

Police officers hustled them out of the courtroom.

Relatives of some of the defendants shouted "God is great", and one woman was dragged out of the chamber.

Among those who received life sentences was Shi'ite dissident Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of the hardline opposition group Haq, and Abduljalil al-Singace, from the same party. Haq joined two other groups in calling for the overthrow of the monarchy during mass protests in February and March.

Abdel Wahab Hussain, head of Wafa, another group that called for a republic, was also given a life sentence. Ibrahim Sharif, Sunni Muslim leader of the secular leftist Waad party, received five years in prison. Waad and Bahrain's largest Shi'ite opposition group Wefaq had called for reform of the monarchy.

Small protests broke out in some Shi'ite villages after the verdicts, residents said, but were quashed by police using tear gas and sound grenades. Activists vowed more rallies in the evening.

Representatives from several European embassies as well as the United States were in the courtroom, where other defendants received prison terms ranging from 2 to 15 years.

The charges ranged from incitement to attempting to overthrow the government by force in collusion with "a terrorist organisation" working for a foreign country.


Bahrain's Sunni rulers, backed by forces from neighbouring Sunni Gulf Arab states, crushed weeks of protests in March mostly by members of the Shi'ite majority. Manama says the protests had a sectarian agenda backed by Shi'ite power Iran.

The opposition denies being steered by Iran, and argues that the charges aim to distract Bahrain's ally the United States, which has its Navy's Fifth Fleet in the country, from activists' calls for democratic reform.

DIALOGUE IN QUESTION

Wefaq, in a news conference after the verdicts, said it was concerned about the success of dialogue under current conditions, and left open the possibility of not attending the talks at all.

Spokesman Khalil al-Marzouq said Wefaq would not meet the government's Thursday deadline for responding to the invitation to dialogue, and could not say if Wefaq would ultimately attend.

"These sentences do not fit with an atmosphere of dialogue ... Those people are a critical portion of the movement. How can there be a dialogue while they are in prison?"

Marzouq also argued that political reforms would be diluted by the sheer number of representatives, 250, invited to talks, not all of them from political groups. He complained that the opposition would be a minority.

The government has said that all political groups should be represented equally at talks.

Some observers have suggested King Hamad bin Isa may try to cool tensions before the dialogue by granting a general amnesty to many of those jailed in recent trials. Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Members of the secular Waad party said they had been expecting Sharif, the party head, to be released.

"This was really surprising," one Waad member said. "It may affect our decision to go to dialogue but it's unclear, we still want to move forward to the future and there is always appeal."

The Danish-Bahraini citizen Abdulhady al-Khawaja, a rights activist, also received a life sentence.

"People will be angry, they will go to the streets because all of these were unfair trials," a relative of Khawaja said.

Bahrain says it has tried only a small number of the demonstrators, targeting those who were involved in criminal activity.

The government contests the opposition's estimate that some 400 people are on trial, saying the number is far smaller. (Editing by Sami Aboudi; Elizabeth Piper and Mark Heinrich)


======

Bahrain Shi'ite opposition bloc to boycott elections

12 Aug 2011 17:11

Source: reuters // Reuters

DUBAI, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Bahrain's largest Shi'ite opposition group said on Friday it would boycott parliamentary elections to fill seats vacated when its deputies resigned over the Sunni-led kingdom's crackdown on anti-government protests.

The move follows a "National Dialogue" that the monarchy -- which hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet -- organised to defuse tension after the crackdown, in which thousands were detained and allegations of torture were rampant.

The opposition bloc, Wefaq, pulled out of the dialogue as well, which led to the king expanding the powers of the elected parliament last month while reserving the broader power of an upper chamber that his court selects.

"We decided to boycott because we are no longer convinced of the authority of this parliament," said Khalil al-Marzouq of Wefaq, whose 18 deputies resigned in February. "It no longer had any popular legitimacy."

The elections are scheduled for September 24.

Wefaq's MPs quit as Bahrain moved to quash the protests, which were led by its Shi'ite majority and called for broader political liberties and an end to sectarian discrimination. A few Shi'ite groups sought to abolish the monarchy.

The kingdom in March called in troops from fellow Sunni-led monarchies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to crush the protests, detaining more than a thousand people, at least four of whom died in custody.

Bahrain's Shi'ites say they are systematically denied access to land and employment, and point to the naturalisation of Sunni Muslims from other countries, some of whom serve in the security forces, as proof of a policy of sectarian rule.

Bahrain hinted Shi'ite Iran manipulated its co-religionists to spread unrest and sentenced several opposition figures to life terms for allegedly collaborating with a foreign power. Two people face death sentences for the killing of policemen during the demonstrations.

The kingdom is now hosting a delegation of international law experts to investigate the protests and their aftermath. Two former Wefaq MPs detained following the protests were released last week, as part of a group of 137 detainees set free. Some of those released may still face prosecution. (Writing by Joseph Logan; editing by Philippa Fletcher)


=====


ANALYSIS-Bahrain risks more unrest, Shi'ite demands unmet

05 Oct 2011 16:02
Source: Reuters // Reuters

* Bahrain promises reform, cracks down on protesters

* Dismayed by backlash, Shi'ite activists vow to escalate

* Saudi Arabia backs government hardliners, US preoccupied

By Andrew Hammond

MANAMA, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Bahrain's Sunni rulers hope their reform promises and tough punishments will deter more pro-democracy protests, but majority Shi'ites are still seething, seeing scant progress on their demands for change in the deeply polarised Gulf island.

In a sign of Shi'ite radicalisation, activists in the Feb. 14 Youth Coalition have called for civil disobedience.

The Shi'ite religious occasion of Ashura, in late November and early December, could become the next flashpoint. The protesters' ultimate goal is to retake the Manama roundabout that became the symbol of this year's failed uprising.

The Gulf Arab state, ruled by the Sunni Al Khalifa family, says it will give parliament greater powers of scrutiny over cabinet ministers after a "national dialogue" held in June.

The authorities say any more reforms must emerge via that framework, limiting scope for progress on the two key opposition demands -- giving the elected chamber real legislative power and removing Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman, King Hamad's powerful uncle, from a post he has held since 1971.

Parliament will convene on Sunday for the first time since the uprising in February and March inspired by successful revolts that toppled Arab autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia.

In Bahrain, the outcome was starkly different. Martial law and an influx of Saudi troops halted street protests.

Saudi Arabia acted with unaccustomed forcefulness because it feared that Bahraini rulers might make power-sharing concessions to Shi'ites seen by Riyadh as proxies for Shi'ite Iran.

At least 30 people were killed, hundreds wounded and more than 1,000 detained during or after the unrest.

In the last few days, military courts have ordered lengthy prison terms for dozens of Shi'ite dissidents and protesters, as well as 20 doctors and nurses, for their part in the revolt.

INTERNATIONAL OPPROBRIUM

The sentences, especially those for hospital staff, have drawn stiff international criticism, while Bahrain fights to counter the narrative of an oppressed majority Shi'ite population fighting for political and economic rights.

Bahrain's global reputation as a business hub has also taken a hit, but the government is resisting calls for deeper reforms, bolstered by support from its Sunni-ruled Gulf neighbours.

"They do feel they are not out of the woods yet -- but they are moving out," said a Western diplomat. "Many in government will calculate that they have political and economic coverage from the Gulf Cooperation Council."

The diplomat pointed to signs that a hardline faction within the government is digging its heels in. The prime minister has increased his public profile in recent weeks and a leading Sunni cleric said last week that removing him was a "red line".

The government says the Shi'ite opposition, led by the Wefaq party, are a minority, arguing that the National Unity Rally, a Sunni-led group set up this year to counter Wefaq, represents a majority who favour reforms at a pace set by the rulers.

"Where we are today is that the slight majority of the people living in Bahrain, the majority who voted for parliament, and many others who live in Bahrain, don't want regime change or to strive for reforms through violent means," one official said.

In the heated sectarian environment of post-uprising Bahrain, many Sunnis argue they are a numerical majority and that all those who joined the protest movement were driven by the desire to establish an Islamic republic akin to Iran.

The diplomat voiced concern at such views. "If they say the Shi'ites are a minority, then they can say that they are in the right and these are a minority of troublemakers," he said.

U.S. pressure could perhaps nudge the government towards concessions on talks with opposition parties, but democratic change in Bahrain may be a lower priority for President Barack Obama than dealing with the tumult in Syria, Yemen and Libya.

A strategically important island off Saudi Arabia's main oil-producing region, Bahrain is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet that secures Gulf shipping lanes in the vicinity of Iran.

SUNNI HARDLINERS

Wary of Shi'ites gaining ground, pro-government writers in Bahraini newspapers have accused Washington of plotting to overthrow the system. They want to stop King Hamad from making a new pact with Wefaq, the main Shi'ite opposition group.

Blogger Justin Gengler, a Bahrain scholar at Michigan University, said some in the Sunni elite still want Wefaq sidelined -- the government shelved plans to close it down in April only after a public rebuke from Washington.

"There is a certain amount of pressure to get rid of them (Wefaq) as a legal entity altogether," he said.

Gengler said the national dialogue recommendations could strengthen the prime minister since he can now appoint new ministers while remaining above parliamentary scrutiny himself.

A commission of international lawyers set up by King Hamad to investigate the protests and their aftermath is to deliver its report this month. Its head Cherif Bassiouni has said he did not believe there was a policy of systematic torture, provoking Shi'ite protests outside the commission's offices in Manama.

The diplomat said the inquiry, which preempted any move to send United Nations investigators, would probably try to apportion equal blame, saying some protesters used violence but the government abused human rights in its response.

"What each side needs to do is read the bit about themselves, not the other side," he said, though he added: "If the king acts on it, it will be good news".

Hardliners could block moves for reconciliation -- Shi'ite say the king's orders that many of those dismissed during the unrest should get their jobs back have been ignored.

With no sign of political progress, many Shi'ites and other opposition figures say their only recourse is street action.

The government and its supporters counter that such tactics are unpatriotic and harm the economy -- some banks have already withdrawn from what was a tourism and banking hub.

"This crisis has damaged all Bahraini society and especially the Sunnis, the biggest group," says Sunni cleric Jassim al-Saeedi. "I think it would be a big political mistake to continue (protests). Islam is cleaner than the methods of this group."

Tewfik al-Saif, a Saudi commentator from the mainly Shi'ite Eastern Province, said it could be difficult for Saudi Arabia to send in troops again if protests erupt on the same scale as in February. The Shi'ite response could also be more bellicose.

"There would be no point in sending more troops unless there was a foreign intervention, or a kind of military uprising, which is unlikely," he said. (Writing by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

=====



Saudi Shi'ite clerics distance themselves from protests

06 Oct 2011 15:14
Source: Reuters // Reuters

DUBAI, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Shi'ite clerics, seeking to distance themselves from Shi'ite-led protests in the Sunni-ruled monarchy, have promised the authorities to use their influence to prevent any further clashes in a volatile eastern province.

Saudi Arabia has said the clashes on Monday night that injured 14 people including 11 policemen in the oil-rich Eastern province were the work of an unnamed foreign power -- usually code for its rival Iran.

The Eastern Province is home to more than two million Shi'ites, a minority which has long complained of second class status in the absolute monarchy dominated by a rigid form of Sunni Islam, Wahhabism.

"An agreement has been reached with the authorities to contain the situation, as the protests were limited to one village and not widespread," Tawfiq al-Saif, a leading Shi'ite intellectual in the kingdom, told Reuters.

During the Arab uprisings earlier this year, the world's top oil exporter moved swiftly to suppress protests in the Eastern Province in February and March, arresting more than 100 people.

The kingdom's Interior Ministry on Tuesday vowed to use "an iron fist" to end the latest protests among its Shi'ite minority.

"The foreign power the government wants to blame is Iran, but I don't believe that Iran had anything to do with the protests," said Saif.

A number of leading Shi'ite clerics including Sheikh Abdullah Khunaizi have condemned the protests and pledged loyalty to King Abdullah's rule, Kamil Al Khitti, an activist and nephew of Sheikh Abdullah told Reuters.

A group of clerics led by Khunaizi on Tuesday met the Eastern Province governor Prince Mohammed bin Fahd, a son of the former King Fahd, to pledge their loyalty to the kingdom and distance themselves from the protesters.

"In the statement that was issued by the ministry of interior had threats against the group of people who started the protests, so this message to the king is to say that we are not backing the group and are loyal to the country's rulers," he said.

Saif said the only way to resolve any conflict in the long term would be to grant Shi'ites political and civil rights.

"Discrimination against us is state policy, the government has opened the chance for dialogue on these issues to resolve problems."

The unrest on Monday led to the arrest of more than half a dozen protesters who are now awaiting a court trial, an official told Reuters.

The Saudi embassy in London on Thursday said the government had used rubber bullets to disperse protesters who it said had attacked a police station using petrol bombs and firearms smuggled into the country.

In an emailed message late Wednesday, an exiled activist with close links to the Shi'ite community in the Eastern Province said the situation had calmed.

"There is no large security presence and that is maybe due to private arrangements with the government that protest will stop if they do not escalate the situation," said Ali Al Ahmed, a dissident based in Washington. (Reporting by Amena Bakr; Editing by Angus McDowall/Maria Golovnina)


===

FACTBOX-Key political risks to watch in Bahrain

02 Nov 2011 23:18
Source: Reuters // Reuters

MANAMA, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Tension remains high in Bahrain as the Shi'ite majority keeps up nightly protests against the Sunni-dominated monarchy while political stalemate in the Gulf Arab state persists.

A report by an independent rights commission into unrest this year after the authorities crushed democracy protests has been delayed until Nov. 23. The report could offer the government and opposition the chance to turn over a new leaf and restart dialogue -- or it could trigger a new escalation.

The government held by-elections in September and October for 18 parliamentary seats vacated by the main Shi'ite opposition party Wefaq after security forces killed protesters when an anti-government uprising broke out in February.

Wefaq boycotted the polls, reducing turnout to less than 20 percent, but the government still insists that political reforms can only come via the existing legislative body.

A national dialogue in June damped down outside criticism of Bahrain's crackdown on the protests, and parliament is expected to enact new powers of monitoring over cabinet ministers. Shi'ites say this leaves street protests as their only way to state their views and force the government to make real changes to a political system dominated by the ruling Al Khalifa family.

Their aim is to retake the Manama roundabout they occupied for a month from Feb. 14 and the government's goal is to stop them: if the protest movement kicks off again, it could be difficult to resist the demand for change.

UNEASY CALM BROKEN

The protests in the Gulf island kingdom, a banking and tourism hub whose economy was hurt by the unrest, were crushed in March with Saudi military help.

Calm returned after the crackdown ended in June, apart from small daily protests, but Shi'ite communities resumed their protests after the summer and the fasting month of Ramadan. Protesters became more creative, staging traffic jam protests and chanting anti-government slogans in a shopping mall.

After the disappointment of the national dialogue, where the opposition was one small element at a meeting of many groups and social organisations, reformers pinned their hopes on the rights commission.

Even that panel of respected rights advocates was criticised after its chairman, Cherif Bassiouni, was accused of prejudicing the outcome of the investigation when he said he had found no evidence of systematic torture, which rights groups said was widespread.

The commission had to close its offices after they were attacked by angry Shi'ites.

In an Egyptian newspaper interview on Nov. 1, Bassiouni appeared to have changed his mind, saying it was only "systematic" torture of which he had no evidence.

Here are some of the main political risks in Bahrain:

POLITICAL TENSIONS

Sectarian divisions festered in Bahrain long before tens of thousands took to the streets in February and March. Majority Shi'ites complain of unequal access to state jobs, housing and health care -- accusations the government denies.

The Sunni al-Khalifa family rules over 1.2 million people, about half of them foreigners. Shi'ites say the rulers are trying to change the demographic balance by granting citizenship and jobs in the security apparatus to Sunnis from elsewhere.

The introduction of a new constitution and parliamentary elections a decade ago helped calm Shi'ite discontent. But the lower assembly's powers are neutered by an upper Shura council appointed by the king, and that has revived tension in a youthful population, half of them under 30.

Several thousand Shi'ites lost their jobs or were suspended after the protests were crushed in March and the government has not made good on promises to give some their jobs back -- one cause of the protests.

WHAT TO WATCH:

- Rhetoric of Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Issa Qassem

- Protests extending to main highways

- The rights commission report on Nov. 23

- The Shi'ite festival of Ashura in late November

IRAN CONFLICT

Bahraini officials say the recent protest movement had a sectarian agenda and backing from Shi'ite power Iran, charges the opposition denies. The accusations go to the heart of regional sectarian tensions that are playing out in Bahrain, the host of the U.S. Navy's regionally strategic Fifth Fleet.

The United States and Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, regard tiny Bahrain as a bulwark against Iran, which they fear is seeking nuclear weapons capability. Iran denies that.

Bahrain has close political and commercial ties with Saudi Arabia, which is wary of non-Arab rival Iran and sent 1,000 troops into Bahrain in March to help quell the protests.

In April, Bahrain expelled an Iranian diplomat for alleged links to a spy ring in Kuwait, and the Islamic Republic said it might retaliate.

Yet Iran's influence in Bahrain remains limited because Bahraini Shi'ites generally look to clerics in religious centres such as Kerbala and Najaf in Arab Iraq rather than to those in Iran.

Bahrain, with its U.S. naval base, could be a target of Iranian reprisals if the United States or Israel attacked Iran. The Manama naval base lets the U.S. military protect Saudi oil installations and the Gulf waterways used to transport oil without having Western troops stationed on Saudi soil.

Bahrain's foreign minister met his Iranian counterpart at the United Nations in New York in September, which could signal an effort to mend relations.

Bahraini Sunnis are worried that the United States is pushing the government to talk directly to Wefaq and want King Hamad not to make concessions, which could take the form of amnesties for many opposition leaders and protesters who have been tried in military courts.

WHAT TO WATCH:

- Iranian and Saudi statements on Bahraini sovereignty

- Status of nuclear talks between Iran and the West

ENERGY

Bahrain, like its Gulf Arab neighbours, has seen a rapid increase in natural gas consumption as its economy has grown.

It consumed 1.3 billion cubic feet of gas per day (cfd) in 2007 and expects consumption to rise to 2 billion cfd in less than a decade. It produces about 1.7 billion cfd.

Plans to import gas have been hampered by political tension with regional producers Qatar and Iran, threatening growth.

Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), for example, raised $338 million in an initial public offering in November 2010 but has had to postpone expanding output partly due to lack of energy.

Talks on importing 1 billion cfd of gas from Iran have faltered since 2009, when an Iranian official made comments that appeared to question Bahrain's sovereignty.

Oil markets fear that a wave of popular unrest that has already toppled the leaders of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt could spread further in a region, which accounts for 40 percent of global oil production.

WHAT TO WATCH:

- Status of plans to build facility to import liquefied natural gas

BANKING

Bahrain's status as a regional banking, trading and Islamic finance centre is also at risk with $10 billion parked in mutual funds in the kingdom. Bahrain made itself a regional banking hub for the Gulf's oil wealth after Lebanon was plunged into a sectarian-fuelled civil war in 1975. Its banks hold assets of about $211 billion.

Bankers say the unrest crackdown damaged Bahrain's main advantage -- being a convenient and liberal business location.

French bank Credit Agricole last month said it would close its Bahrain office and move its staff to Dubai. Fellow lender BNP Paribas also plans to move some back-office operations out of Bahrain.

Contagion fears could spread to regional sovereign debt and any capital outflows could put pressure on Bahrain's currency peg to the dollar. The central bank said in

==============

Cleric slams US, AL approach to Bahrain

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 13:49:40 GMT

Top Bahraini cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim has slammed the US and the Arab League for turning a blind eye to Manama’s brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests, Press TV reports.

Addressing thousands of Bahrainis attending Friday Prayers in the village of Diraz, the senior cleric said that while preaching democracy the US is supporting the Bahraini government in its crackdown on demonstrators who demand justice and their rights.

He also criticized the Arab League for not even mentioning the crisis in Bahrain in its latest meeting in Baghdad late last month.

The cleric also called for the immediate release of prisoners and urged the government to halt its attacks on protesters.

Qassim's remarks came as Bahrainis are planning more protest rallies in response to the ruling Al Khalifa regime’s defiance of international calls for the release of top rights activists Abdulhadi al-Khawaja.

Meanwhile, Saudi-backed Bahraini forces have arrested al-Khawaja’s daughter, Zainab, for protesting against her father's detention near the Interior Ministry. Activists say she has now been transferred to a prison outside Manama.

Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid-February 2011, demanding political reform and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.


Scores of people have also been killed and many others have been injured in the Saudi-backed crackdown on peaceful protesters in Bahrain.

===

It was Yazid who killed Imam Hussein A.S, There is a book on Yazidi tribes in the Syria/Iraq borderland by Nelida Fuccaro about recent titles on the Syria-Iraq tribal borderlands http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelida_Fuccaro: Fuccaro, Nelida (1999) The Other Kurds: Yazidis in Colonial Iraq. London: IB Tauris. Yesterday it was Yazid , today we have Neo-Yazids and Bin La`deeni regimes of Saudia and Qatar funding Salafists of Syria-Lebanon.

==

Nelida Fuccaro
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Nelida Fuccaro, Ph.D., is a historian of the Modern Middle East[1] at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She has worked and published extensively on the History of the Modern Iraqi State, with a particular focus on the Yazidi, and Kurdish populations of the country. Fuccaro has also published on the History of Modern Bahrain. Fuccaro currently works on the social and cultural history of the Middle Eastern oil industry and has edited a thematic contribution for Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East entitled 'Histories of Oil and Urban Modernity in the Middle East'.
Contents

1 Selected Publications
1.1 Books
2 Other Selected publications
3 References
4 External links

Selected Publications
Books

Fuccaro, Nelida (2011) Öteki Kürtler. Sömürge Irak’inda Yazidiler (Turkish translation of The Other Kurds: Yazidis in Colonial Iraq). Istanbul: Boğaziçi Gösteri Sanatları Topluluğu.

Fuccaro, Nelida (2009) Histories of City and State in the Persian Gulf: Manama since 1800. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Cambridge Middle East Studies)

Fuccaro, Nelida (1999) The Other Kurds: Yazidis in Colonial Iraq. London: IB Tauris.

Other Selected publications

Fuccaro, Nelida (2011) 'The Ottoman Frontier in Kurdistan in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.' In: Woodhead, Christine, (ed.), The Ottoman World. London: Routledge, pp. 237-250. (Routledge Worlds)

Fuccaro, Nelida (2010) 'Pearl Towns and early Oil Cities: Migration and Integration in the Arab Coast of the Persian Gulf.' In: Freitag, Ulrike and Furhmann, Malte and Lafi, Nora and Riedler, Florian, (eds.), Migration and the Making of Urban Modernity in the Ottoman Empire and Beyond. London: Routledge, pp. 99-116.

Fuccaro, Nelida (2008) 'Between imara, empire and oil: Saudis in the frontier society of the Persian Gulf.' In: Al-Rasheed, M., (ed.), Kingdom without Borders: Saudi Political, Religious and Media Frontiers. London: Hurst, pp. 39-64.

Fuccaro , Nelida (2005) 'Mapping the Transnational Community: Persians and the Space of the City in Bahrain, c. 1869-1937.' In: Al-Rasheed, M., (ed.), Transnational Connections and the Arab Gulf. Routledge, pp. 39-58.

(2004) 'Minorities and Ethnic Mobilisation: The Kurds in Northern Iraq and Syria.' In: Meouchy, N. and Sluggett, P., (eds.), The British and French Mandates in Comparative Perspectives. Brill, pp. 579-595.