Slate’s Tom Scocca reminds us that the west’s willingness to rescue pro-democracy protesters from brutal, murderous middle-eastern despots is highly selective. If you’re rebelling against a dictator who’s been a thorn in America’s side, you get airstrikes and UN resolutions; if you’re rebelling against tyrants who are forthcoming with their oil or ports, you’re lucky if the Secretary of State will bestir herself for a round of finger-wagging as your comrades are coldly murdered in the streets.
The helpful thing, if you’re overwhelmed by so much news going on at once, is that Bahrain is roughly the same story as Libya–only instead of pro-democracy protesters being murdered by a terrorist-sponsoring monster of a dictator who has been on America’s enemies list for ages, the pro-democracy protesters are being murdered by a government that is America’s very own dear ally. And where Qaddafi brought in foreign mercenaries for support, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain brought in troops from our even more vital ally, Saudi Arabia…
So basically, take all those proud feelings about the United States standing up for freedom and human rights in Libya and turn them inside out, and vomit into them. That’s Bahrain.
Would a No-Fly Zone Over America Save the Democracy Movement in Bahrain? (via Making Light)
A day after it deployed foreign troops (including troops from Saudi Arabia), the ruling family in Bahrain has declared martial law, and instructed the soldiers and foreign fighters on the streets to “take all measures” to fight rebellion against its autocratic rule.
A standoff also appears to be worsening between the two key regional protagonists – Saudi Arabia and Iran – both of whom have accused each other of using the Arab world’s smallest state as an arena for their broader agendas.
The latest events seem to mark a new phase in the crisis that has paralysed the tiny kingdom since January. Demonstrators have drawn strength from the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt that saw autocratic regimes toppled by popular protests. However, unlike in either place, Bahrain’s protests have taken on a strong sectarian dimension.
Bahrain declares martial law as protesters clash with troops
Saudi Arabia will split its security forces, lately much occupied with suppressing protest at home, and will send them to Bahrain to help put down the popular uprising there.
Witnesses said security forces surrounded the protesters’ tent compound, shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at the activists in the largest effort to clear the square since a crackdown last month that left four dead after live ammunition was fired.
Activists tried to stand their ground yesterday and chanted “Peaceful, peaceful” as the crowd swelled into thousands, with protesters streaming to the square to reinforce the activists’ lines, forcing the police to pull back by the early afternoon.
At Bahrain University, Shia demonstrators and government supporters held competing protests that descended into violence when plainclothes pro-government backers and security forces forced students blocking the campus main gate to seek refuge in classrooms and lecture halls, the Associated Press reported.
Saudi Arabian forces prepare to enter Bahrain after day of clashes
• An elderly American, Hossein Ghanbarzadeh Vahedi, rode a horse over a mountain range to escape Iran after officials confiscated his passport. • The King of Saudi Arabia advised Obama to “implant computer chips in Guantanamo” detainees, “like horses.” Did you know that Stefano DiMera was king of Saudi Arabia? • The EU plotted to boycott Ahmadinejad at his own presidential inauguration. Iranian agents entered warzones via the Red Crecsent. The medical organization denies it. • Reuters sums up early reactions from pundits. Most agree that the leaks are unprecedented and will frustrate diplomatic links with certain countries and people. A British think tankee believes that nothing seismic will happen to Earthly geopolitcs because the really secret stuff hasn’t and probably won’t get leaked. Millions of people already had access to these cables. • Editorials from newspapers about their ‘decision’ to publish the leaks have begun appearing! Here’s Le Monde’s. Of the outlets involved, the New York Times again seems quite resentful at being unable to ignore the scoops Wikileaks feeds it. Compare to The Guardian’s exultations. • This is actually “a moment of American strength” in the making. Take it away, Bill Kristol.
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