"Bahrain: British Arms Export Licences Revoked"Like I've said, word gets around today. Fast.
Andy Jack, Sky News Online (February 19, 2011)
"More than 40 UK arms export licences for Bahrain have been revoked after a review following fears weapons from Britain may have been used to crackdown on protesters.
"The King of Bahrain ordered a start to 'dialogue' with all parties in the country, after armed troops opened fire on anti-government protesters in Manama.
"Dozens of people were hurt as armed officers fired at protesters around the Pearl roundabout.
"Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said that 24 individual licences and 20 open licences for Bahrain had been revoked, following advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills...."
And quite a few countries don't seem to like being part of what Bahrain's bosses have done. Partly, I hope, due to the ethics involved. More certainly, I think, due to a realization - at least among many Western governments - that killing potential customers is really bad for business.
For similar reasons, I think that killing one's subjects is bad for instilling a sense of loyalty. That may seem obvious, but folks like Bahrain's ruling family keep doing it.
"Libya, Yemen crack down; Bahrain pulls back tanks"Killing folks who are mourning a victim of their government's enforcers. Like I said: I don't think that's a good way to inspire loyalty. Fear, yes. But it's my opinion that fear only works for so long as a substitute for a social contract. And that's another topic.
Maggie Michael and Brian Friedman, The Associated Press, via The Washington Post (February 19, 2011)
"Security forces in Libya and Yemen fired on pro-democracy demonstrators Saturday as the two hard-line regimes struck back against the wave of protests that has already toppled autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia. At least 15 died when police shot into crowds of mourners in Libya's second-largest city, a hospital official said.
"Even as Bahrain's king bowed to international pressure and withdrew tanks to allow demonstrators to retake a symbolic square in the capital, Libya's Moammar Gadhafi and Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh made clear they plan to stamp out opposition and not be dragged down by the reform movements that have grown in nations from Algeria to Djibouti to Jordan.
"Libyans returned to the street for a fifth straight day of protests against Gadhafi, the most serious uprising in his 42-year reign, despite estimates by human rights groups of 84 deaths in the North African country - with 35 on Friday alone.
"Saturday's deaths, which would push the overall toll to 99, occurred when snipers fired on thousands of mourners in Benghazi, a focal point of unrest, as they attended the funerals of other protesters, a hospital official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal...."
"Hague condemns Middle East violence"As I've said before, news travels fast these days.
The Press Association, via Google News (February 19, 2011)
"Britain has condemned the 'unacceptable and horrifying' use of violence by security forces in Libya, where live fire and snipers have been deployed to break up demonstrations against the 42-year rule of Moammar Gaddafi.
"The death toll during three days of protests in Libya is believed to be at least 84, in the most repressive official response yet to the wave of unrest sweeping across the Arab world.
"Meanwhile, in Bahrain, thousands of cheering and singing demonstrators re-occupied Pearl Square in the centre of the capital Manama as troops and riot police were ordered off the streets by the ruling Khalifa family in an apparent response to Western pressure...."
"Bahrain Tensions Ease as Violence Escalates Through Region""Bahrain Tensions Ease....?!" I don't know if that's wishful thinking, an effort to make the Bahranian ruling family look good - or a reference to something that's not all that obvious in the news.
Business Report, SF Gate/The San Francisco Chronicle (February 18, 2011)
"Anti-government protesters in Bahrain celebrated a victory in their fight for democracy as authorities elsewhere across the region sought to crack down on calls for political change sparked by Egypt and Tunisia.
"Violence rippled across Yemen and Djibouti, both U.S. allies, as demonstrations against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi entered a fourth day amid opposition warnings of an impending 'bloodbath' at the hands of security forces. Saudi Arabian shares retreated for a fifth day on concern political unrest in neighboring countries may hurt the Arab world's largest economy.
"In Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, thousands of protesters poured into the Pearl Roundabout in the capital, Manama, after tanks, armored personnel carriers and riot police withdrew on the orders of Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa. Unions have called a general strike for tomorrow to protest the government's violent quelling of demonstrations...."
"Bahrain royal family orders army to turn on the people"Note: Bahrain has been a constitutional monarchy since 2002. ("Bahrain," CIA World Factbook (last updated February 11, 2011)) What the protesters want, apparently, is a change in the constitution. Or maybe a new constitution. Back to the article:
Adrian Blomfield, The Telegraph (February 18, 2011)
"Bahrain's ruling family has defied mounting international criticism by ordering the army to turn on its people for the first time since pro-reform demonstrations erupted five days ago.
"As protesters attempted to converge on Pearl Roundabout, a landmark in the capital Manama that has become the principal rallying point of the uprising, soldiers stationed in a nearby skyscraper opened fire.
"Since they took to the streets, Bahrain's protesters have come to expect violence and even death at the hands of the kingdom's security forces. At least five people were killed before yesterday's protests.
"But this was on a different scale of magnitude.
"As they drew near, they were met first with tear gas and then with bursts of live ammunition.
"Many fled the first salvoes, scrambling down empty streets as the shots rang out behind them.
"As they ran, terror and disbelief flashed across their faces. One man shouted: 'They are killing our people! They are killing our people.'
"Cowering behind a wall, a woman wept, her body shaking in fear.
"But many refused to run, initially at least, determined to defy the violence being visited upon them. Some held their hands in the air and shouted 'Peaceful! Peaceful!'.
"The shooting resumed. One man crumpled to the ground, blood pouring from his leg; nearby a second was also felled. A scream went up: 'live ammunition!...
"...But even as they fled in headlong panic, a helicopter sprayed gunfire at them and more fell. Paramedics from ambulances that had rushed to the scene darted forward to help the wounded, but they too were shot at. Several were detained and at least one ambulance was impounded.
"Doctors at the nearby Salmaniyah hospital said they had received 32 wounded people, nine of whom were in a critical condition. There were unconfirmed reports of two deaths at Pearl Roundabout, but witnesses said the bodies had been seized by the army.
"Those caught up in the violence were mourners, returning from funerals of three people killed before dawn the previous day when police opened fire on protesters, many of whom were asleep, in a successful bid to regain control of Pearl Roundabout....
"...Most of the protesters are members of Bahrain's long-marginalised Shia majority. "They say they are not demanding the abdication of Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Bahrain's Sunni king, but they are calling for a constitutional monarchy that would treat the Shia fairly and make them equal subjects in his kingdom...."
"...But they are demanding the resignation of his uncle Khalifa bin Sulman Al Khalifa, who has served as prime minister for 39 years.In contrast to the SFGate piece, this was written by someone who almost certainly was not trying to soft-pedal the Bahranian rulers' decision to kill a few commoners and hope for the best.
"During his rule, the protesters say, the Shia have been turned into second class citizens, deprived of jobs in the army, police force and government while Sunnis from abroad have been given Bahraini citizenship to alter the kingdom's demographic balance.
"Government officials in Bahrain have warned that the Shia opposition is controlled by Iran, which seeks to use the kingdom to establish a foothold on the Arabian peninsula.
"Protesters insist that they have no love for Iran and are only seeking justice for themselves...." (The Telegraph)
- "Bahrain and the Information Age"
(February 19, 2011)