Bahrain Cracks Down as Region Continues to Roil
Bahrainhas cracked down on the grown protests by Shi'ite Muslims, who comprise 60% of the population. After weeks of the monarchy taking a relatively moderate stance, opposition forces nevertheless continued protests, in a region still roiling with similar situations in nearby nations.
Government forces arrested at least six opposition leaders on Thursday. Among those detained were Haq party leader Hassan Mushaima and Wafa party leader Abdel Wahhab Hussein, who led calls for the overthrow of the royal family. So said a source in the more moderate Wefaq, the largest opposition party, to Reuters.
Wefaq, which demanded wide-ranging political and constitutional reforms, appeared to have escaped the wave of arrests. The secular leftist party Wa'ad, which made the same demands, was not as lucky: party head Ibrahim Sharif was also arrested.
Security personnel were using tanks and helicopters to clear protesters away from a makeshift campground set up in the streets of the nation's capital, Manama. Troops poured into the country from likewise Sunni-ruled neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as insurance the unrest would not spread to their areas. Most countries in the region fear the spread of Shi'ite Iran's influence and wrath.
The military on Wednesday banned all protests and imposed a curfew from 4:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. in most of the capital.
Three protesters and three police officers have died since the unrest began. Protesters are demanding the country move from a government appointed by the monarchy to an elected parliament and cabinet.
Western nations are urging their citizens to evacuate the country, and a spokesman for the British embassy told Reuters that the UK had organized charter flights to Dubai for those who had no other place to go.
Clinton in Egypt
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Tahrir Square in Cairo this week, the symbolic heart of the Egyptian uprising that toppled the 31-year regime of former President Hosni Mubarak.
Clinton praised the demonstrators who brought down the Mubarak government. She said she hoped that people everywhere would look back on the uprising and see it as “one of the most important historic turning points” in the Middle East.”
Libyan Rebels Losing
In Libya, oppositions forces appear to be losing ground as government forces move to retake Misrata, the main rebel bastion near Tripoli, the nation's capital.
Dictator Muammar Qaddafi has reasserted his grip on the country in the face of dithering by members of the United Nations who were unable to agree on whether or not – or how – to impose a no-fly zone to help the rebels.
The rebels, meanwhile, expressed anger and frustration at the West for not coming to their aid as they worked to hang on to Benghazi, the rebel stronghold in the east.
Is Yemen Next?
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is facing his own challenges as thousands of protesters continue to call for him to end his 32-year reign.
Government supporters wielded sticks, knives and guns against the protesters, wounding hundreds in a crackdown aimed at quelling the uprising. Some 50 protesters have been killed there over the past month of demonstrations, according to Amal al-Bashi, spokesman for the Yemen Center for Human Rights.