Police in Bahrain fired tear gas at anti-government protesters March 11, as thousands marched on a square near the royal palace in Manama. Protesters were also confronted by a group of pro-regime loyalists armed with golf clubs, knives, swords, metal pipes and sticks embedded with nails. A clash ensued for control of the square as the mainly Shi’ite protesters hurled stones at the mainly Sunni regime supporters. Earlier, protesters chanted “Peaceful, peaceful” and handed flowers to police in a bid to avoid violence. Government loyalists chanted “Long live the Bahraini monarchy,” and “The people want Khalifa bin Salman,” referring to the long-time prime minister whose ouster the opposition demands. (Middle East Online, March 11)
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia launched a massive security operation in an overwhelming show of force to deter protesters from a planned “Day of Rage” to press for democratic reform in the conservative kingdom. Illegal demonstrations were supposed to start after Friday prayers at noon, but there were no signs of rallies as the mosques emptied, with security forces erecting checkpoints in key locations across several cities. In the strategic Olaya commercial center of the capital Riyadh, where protesters were urged to congregate through an Internet campaign, hundreds of security personnel surrounded the mosque and inspected motorists’ identification documents. (Middle East Online, March 11)
See our last posts on Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and the regional wave of revolution.
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