Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bahrain imposes state of emergency

Two killed and many wounded in violent clashes as king authorises "all
necessary measures to protect safety of country".

Al Jazeera
15 Mar 2011

The emergency order comes amid the influx of wounded protesters and
undercover police at hospitals [Al Jazeera]

The king of Bahrain has declared a state of emergency for three months on
the island following weeks of anti-government protests, as deadly clashes
continued across the country.

An order by the king "authorised the commander of Bahrain's defence forces
to take all necessary measures to protect the safety of the country and
its citizens," a statement read out on television on Tuesday said.

The development comes a day after Saudi-led military forces arrived to
support the government, which is facing pressure from the Shia majority to
implement reforms.

Al Jazeera's correspondent in the capital, Manama, who we are not naming
for security reasons, said the declaration of a state of emergency
appeared to have been deliberated upon for some time now.

"The last few days Manama has effectively been shut down. So there was a
sense that something was going to happen. Then yesterday we had the GCC
troops come in," he said.

"I'm standing now in and amongst a demonstration. There are tens of
thousands of people streaming past me to the Saudi embassy. There is a
great sense of change here."

Renewed clashes

Our correspondent said there was not a visible presence of Saudi troops on
the streets in his area, but clashes between protesters and Bahraini
security forces continued elsewhere.

He confirmed reports that at least two people were killed in the Shia
suburb of Sitra outside of Manama in fighting there on Tuesday.

Abdullah Al Hubaaishi, a Bahraini who was making his way to the protest
camp at Pearl Roundabout in Manama, told Al Jazeera that there were many
wounded protesters on the streets in Sitra.

"Most of them have been shot," he said. "Those people started attacking
the villages and the towns. If there is anybody in the road they will
shoot them. If there is nobody in the road they will enter the houses."

Request for assistance

Hundreds of Saudi-led troops entered Bahrain on Monday to help protect
government facilities there amid an escalation in the protests against the

Local television broadcast images of troops in armoured cars entering the
Gulf state via the 26km causeway that connects the kingdom to Saudi

The arrival of the troops followed a request to members of the Gulf
Co-Operation Council (GCC) from Bahrain.

The United Arab Emirates also sent about 500 police to Bahrain, according
to Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Emirati foreign minister. Qatar,
meanwhile, did not rule out the possibility of its troops joining the

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, the Qatari prime minister and
foreign minister, told Al Jazeera: "There are common responsibilities and
obligations within the GCC countries.

"The arrival of Saudi and UAE troops in Bahrain is in line with a GCC
defence agreement that calls for all members to oblige when needed and to
fully co-operate.

"We are committed to adhering to the GCC agreement. At the moment we have
peacekeeping troops. We don't have a full force there, but this is up for

International concern

The US, which counts both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia among its allies, has
called for restraint, but has refrained from saying whether it supports
the move to deploy troops.

"We urge our GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) 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," Tommy Vietor, the White
House spokesman, said on Monday.

Americans are being advised to avoid travelling to the island, which is
home to US warships that patrol the Gulf.

Iran, meanwhile, has warned against "foreign interferences".

"The peaceful demonstrations in Bahrain are among the domestic issues of
this country, and creating an atmosphere of fear and using other
countries' military forces to oppress these demands is not the solution,"
Hossein Amir Abdollahian, an official from the Iranian foreign ministry,
was reported by Iran's semi-official Fars news agency as saying.

Provocation to protesters

Abdel al-Mowada, the deputy chairman of Bahrain's parliament, told Al
Jazeera that it was not clear how the Saudi force would be deployed but
denied the troops would become a provocation to protesters.

"It is not a lack of security forces in Bahrain, it is a showing of
solidarity among the GCC," he told Al Jazeera.

"I don't know if they are going to be in the streets or save certain areas
... [but protesters] blocking the roads are no good for anyone, we should

"The government is willing to get together and make the changes needed,
but when the situation is like this, you cannot talk."

The Saudi troops arrived less than 24 hours after Bahraini police clashed
with demonstrators in one of the most violent confrontations since troops
killed seven protesters last month.

Opposition groups, including Wefaq, the country's largest Shia movement,
have spoken out against the use of foreign troops.

"We consider the entry of any soldier or military machinery into the
Kingdom of Bahrain's air, sea or land territories a blatant occupation,"
Wefaq said in a statement.

Fierce clashes in Yemen capital

More violence as security forces crack down on anti-government protesters
in Sanaa.

Al Jazeera 14 Mar 2011

Two more people have been killed and scores injured in the latest
anti-government protests in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, bringing the number
of deaths to more than 30 in just two months.

According to medical sources, the latest violence erupted when police
fired live rounds and tear gas.

Claims that riot police are using excessive force and prohibited nerve gas
have been denied by General Yahya Saleh, the head of the Yemeni security

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reports from a makeshift clinic set up by
protesters near University Square, the scene of ongoing protests.

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