For the third day, several thousands of Bahraini protesters came out on street in the capital city of Manama. So far two protesters have died in clashes with the security forces. Some 2,000 protestors – demanding regime change in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom – spent the Tuesday night in tents at the Pearl Roundabout in the heart of Manama.
“The kingdom of Bahrain is a country of law and constitutional institutions. We have a law that recognizes peaceful demonstrations that was decreed by an elected committee. The right to express one’s opinion is a right that is given by the Constitution and has been recognized by the law which we must all follow,” Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa, the ruler stated on Tuesday. Watch video below.
Maryam al-Khawaja from Bahrain Center for Human Rights told Press TV on Wednesday: “This is the first time in Bahrain’s history that I see this many people in an open area like this. Despite the fact that the king has come to the TV and offered his condolences, it really has had no effect on the protesters, and more and more people are joining the protesters in the Pearl Roundabout. People say we cannot trust the regime and this king anymore”.
The tiny oil-producing Bahrain, is a strategically vital island that hosts the US Navy’s 5th Fleet at Juffair, near Manama since 1947. The base houses 4,200 US military and civilian personnel. “The protests are not directed at the US military presence,” said Jennifer Stride, a spokeswoman for US Naval Support Activity Bahrain. She added that the protests are not taking place in the vicinity of the naval base.
Bahrain was part of Persia till 1783 when it was captured by al-Khalifa family with the help of British colonialists (just like the Saudi family did in Najd). The Sheikhdom has population of 738,000 out of which 235,000 are non-citizen. Shia Muslims citizens make 70% of the total Muslim population. The ‘royal’ family, however, is pro-western Sunni.
Canada’s No.1 Israeli mouthpiece, National Post, whined on February 15, 2011: “Washington would find it difficult to threaten Iran or to enforce international sanctions against Tehran’s nuclear program without its bases in Bahrain”.