Two days after U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Mr. Gates visited Bahrain to urge the ruling family to more quickly adopt democratic reforms, the monarchs have apparently done precisely the opposite. Various wires and news sources are reporting that foreign soldiers, possibly from Saudi Arabia, are moving in to suppress the largely peaceful protests.
This can’t be good. Presumably, foreign forces will be 1) less willing to act with restraint 2) operate outside any sort of criminal jurisdiction should they manifestly break the law 3) be less responsive to the orders of Bahrain’s rulers who probably don’t want to be seen as responsible for a massacre. (Remember, after a day of extreme violence last month, Bahrain ordered its military off the streets.)
I can’t help but think that this decision by Bahrain’s government will make things there go from bad to worse. This video of a protester being shot point blank by men in uniform is already making rounds on Twitter:
Speaking of Twitter, at the outset of the violence in Bahrain last month, I compiled this list of top Bahrain tweeps. I will be checking back with these folks throughout the week:
@ealshafei A Bahraini woman who is a TED Global fellow and the director of the youth activism site Mideast Youth.
@MideastYouth The aforementioned youth activist organization.
@JustAmira Amira al Husaini is the Middle East and North Africa editor of Global Voices Online. I’ve followed her work for years.
@ahmedalsairafi I don’t know much about him, but he has posted fervently from Pearl Square and from the hospital where the two people died after being shot by police. He is frequently cited by the others on this list.
@NickKristof Was on the scene during the February 17 protests and shootings. Still covering events, but from afar.
@BahrainRights A twitter feed from the The Bahrain Center for Human Rights.
@RedhaHaji Don’t know too much about this user. He’s written very frequent and descriptive updates from Pearl Square.