Friday, February 18, 2011

Next stop: The House of Saud


By Pepe Escobar

Asia Times

"Here's a crash course on how one of "our" - monarchic - dictators treats his own people during the great 2011 Arab revolt.

The king of Bahrain, Hamad al-Khalifa, has blood on his hands after his mercenary security forces - Pakistani, Indian, Syrian and Jordanian - with no previous warning, attacked sleeping, peaceful protesters at 3 am on Thursday at the Pearl roundabout, the tiny Gulf country's version of Cairo's Tahrir Square.

In the brutal crackdown, at least five people have been killed - including a young child - and 2,000 injured, some by gunshots, two of these in critical condition. Riot police targeted doctors and medics and prevented ambulances and blood donors from reaching the Pearl roundabout. A doctor at Salmaniya hospital told al-Jazeera there was a refrigerated truck outside the hospital, which he fears the army has used to remove more dead bodies.

The resourceful Maryama Alkawaka of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights was there; "It was very violent, [the police] were not showing any mercy." An avalanche of tweets from Bahrainis denounced an "Israeli-style" sneak attack and shoot-to-kill approach. And many have denounced al-Jazeera for not having kept a live satellite link as it had in Cairo, and for implying that this was only a Shi'ite protest. The Pearl roundabout is now surrounded by nearly 100 tanks at every entrance and exit. Downtown Manama has been turned into a ghost city.....

Kill them, but with a velvet glove

Is Washington remotely outraged by all this? The record speaks for itself. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed "deep concern", according to the State Department, and "urged restraint". The Pentagon said Bahrain was "an important partner"; later Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman - certainly to make sure everything was dandy with the US Navy's 5th Fleet and its 2,250 personnel housed in an isolated compound inside 24 hectares in the center of Manama.....

Under these strategic circumstances, it's hard to dismiss Lebanese political scientist and blogger at the Angry Arab website As'ad AbuKhalil, when he stresses, "The US had to plot the repression of Bahrain to appease Saudi Arabia and other Arab tyrants who were mad at Obama for not defending Mubarak to the every end.".....

The Arab News newspaper anyway has already warned that those winds of freedom from northern Africa may hit Saudi Arabia. And it may all revolve around youth unemployment, at an unsustainable 40%. There's no question; the great 2011 Arab revolt will only fulfill its historic mission when it shakes the foundations of the House of Saud. Young Saudi Sunnis and Shi'ites, you have nothing to lose but your fear. "

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