News / Middle East

Security Forces Reclaim Main Protest Site in Bahrain

Black smoke billows from burning tents in Pearl Square in Bahraini capital Manama on March 16, 2011
Black smoke billows from burning tents in Pearl Square in Bahraini capital Manama on March 16, 2011

Security forces in Bahrain have retaken control of a main demonstration site in the capital Manama where anti-government protesters had been camping for weeks.

Soldiers and riot police used armored vehicles and tear gas to disperse crowds at Pearl Square on Wednesday and witnesses say  the site was cleared in about two hours.  At least two people were reportedly killed in the latest clashes adding to two other deaths confirmed on Tuesday.  Hospital workers say hundreds of other people have been wounded in fighting around the country some by gunfire.

The crackdown came one day after the Persian Gulf Kingdom declared a three-month state of emergency.

Troops from neighboring Saudi Arabia were deployed to Bahrain on Monday to help reinforce local authorities, however, it is unclear whether they were involved in the operations at Pearl Square.

Other Gulf Arab states have promised military support.

Protesters from Bahrain's majority Shi'ite population have been demanding political reforms and say they are treated like second-class citizens by the minority Sunni government.

The ruling al-Khalifa family has offered to hold a dialogue with opposition groups. But some protesters are demanding more power for parliament and that the royal family be ousted.

An increasing number of sectarian clashes have been reported in Bahrain since demonstrations began over a month ago.

Director of the Brookings Doha Center, Salman Shaikh, believes the unrest could spill over into neighboring countries, especially Saudi Arabia, which has a ruling Sunni family, but a majority Shi’ite population in its eastern provinces.

"If the situation in Bahrain escalates, I would guess that we would get these provinces to further rise [in protest], some are even speculating that we could have an arch of fire stretching and spreading from Bahrain to the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia," he said.

Iran, the region’s predominantly Shi’ite power, has criticized the deployment of foreign troops to Bahrain. Middle East analyst at IHS Global Insight Gala Riani believes the country could play a larger role in the Arab conflict in the future.

"If sectarian unrest continues and is ignited in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and continues for a longer period of time it is possible that some more hard-liner groups would somehow seek some degree of clandestine support from Iran," said Riani. "Iran has shown that elsewhere in the Middle East it has supported groups with weaponry or training or other types of assistance.

The U.S. State Department is warning Americans against travel to Bahrain and advising citizens in the Gulf state to consider leaving.

 

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Arkansas, North Carolina have approved similar laws that gay-marriage opponents say help maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More