Saudi counter-revolution cools Arab Spring

Fueled by fear of rising oil prices, US deference is helping Saudi Arabia implement its agenda in the Gulf.

Jim Lobe, al Jazeera

24 Apr 2011 —

”]As the so-called Arab Spring enters its sixth month, it appears to have run into seriously wintry headwinds.

While some observers here have blamed Saudi Arabia and its neighbouring Sunni-led sheikhdoms as a major source of the icy winds that are blasting through the Gulf, the growing contradictions between the US and Western “values” and their interests are adding to the unseasonable weather.

Thus, while Washington has privately expressed strong doubts about the wisdom of the increasingly brutal and indiscriminate crackdown against the majority Shia population in Bahrain, home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, its failure to clearly and publicly denounce the Saudi-backed repression is only the most blatant example of this trend. Continue reading

Oman: Protests break out in Omani city

Thousands take to the streets in southern city in Gulf state to press for better wages, jobs and end to corruption.
22 Apr 2011
Unrest in Oman has been small relative to other Arab countries

but security has been increased significantly [Reuters]

At least 1,000 protesters have taken to the streets in Oman’s southern port city of Salalah in one of the biggest pro-reform demonstrations since scattered unrest began in the Gulf Arab sultanate two months ago.

The protesters assembled in a car park across the street from the governor’s office on Friday, where a preacher led mid-day prayers and led them on a march across the city.

“The Omani people are not afraid of protesting for as long as it takes for reform, [but] first and foremost is to get government officials, who have been embezzling funds for years, to stand trial,” Amer Hargan, the leader, told the crowd. Continue reading

Bahraini opposition to Saudi Arabian and Gulf armies’ invasion

Mar 14 2011 by Jadaliyya Reports

[Image from unknown archive.]

Troops from the GCC Peninsula Shield Forces, originating mostly from Saudi Arabia but also the United Arab Emirates, arrived in Bahrain today. When the Bahraini Crown Prince visited Saudi Arabia last week, he was given an ultimatum and a deadline: either the Bahraini government takes control of the situation and ends the month old anti-government protests, or Saudi Arabia would send its troops to do the job. While Bahrain’s ruler did issue an appeal for help to the GCC, critics have said that this was in response to pressure by Saudi Arabia, whose deadline given to the Bahraini ruler expired last night. According to the BBC, yesterday Saudi King Abdullah informed the US administration of the decision to send GCC troops into Bahrain to quell the pro-democracy protests. Today the White House announced that it does not consider the entry of over 1000 foreign troops–mostly Saudi Arabian–into Bahrain an “invasion” and called on the Bahraini government to “exercise restraint.”

Omanis and Kuwaitis have threatened their respective governments with major strikes if their national troops are sent with the GCC Shield Forces into Bahrain. Foreign journalists have reported being harassed by the Bahraini government in the lead up to the troops’ arrival, with many journalists “asked” to leave the country by the end of the day. Others have simply been refused entry into Bahrain at the airport. The UK has issued a travel advisory warning its citizens against travel to Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia has evacuated its students who attend universities in the neighboring island.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered at the now famous Pearl Roundabout today in response to the news of foreign troops reaching Bahrain. Continue reading

Violent clashes in Bahrain


Euronews on  Mar 14, 2011

In one of the most violent confrontations since troops killed seven protesters last month, police used tear gas and water cannon to break up demonstrations against the kingdom’s royal family. Witnesses said rubber bullets were also fired by police.

Bahrain is gripped in its worst unrest since the 1990s For several weeks now the Shi’ite majority has held rallies complaining against what it says is discrimination by the ruling Sunni minority.

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Washington Post: Security official in Saudi Arabia: Gulf military force enters Bahrain to help deal with unrest

By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF, Monday, March 14, 4:59 AM

CAIRO — A security official in Saudi Arabia says a military force from Gulf states has entered Bahrain to help deal with a month of political unrest in the island kingdom. Continue reading

Oman protests intensify as Sultan struggles to appease demonstrators

Oman protests come with calls for economic improvements and political reform, but stop short of demanding removal of the Gulf state’s Sultan Qaboos.
  • Omani nationals watch smoke rise from Lulu hypermarket in Sohar, Oman, Monday Feb. 28. Omani security forces have blocked roads to Sohar, about 120 miles northwest of the capital of Muscat, after deadly clashes between pro-democracy protesters and riot police.

    Omani nationals watch smoke rise from Lulu hypermarket in Sohar, Oman, Monday Feb. 28. Omani security forces have blocked roads to Sohar, about 120 miles northwest of the capital of Muscat, after deadly clashes between pro-democracy protesters and riot police.

After avoiding the wave of protests sweeping the Middle East for months, Oman has entered its third day of continuous demonstrations. Local media is reporting that demonstrators have set fire to a supermarket, cars, a police station, houses, and the governor’s residence amid protests calling for economic improvements and government reform.

The nation’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, has so far announced the creation of 50,000 new government jobs and an unemployment program that will pay job seekers $390 per month until they find work, reports CNN.

These concessions appear to have done little to quiet protesters, whose demands include an increase in power for the legislative body, although they have stopped short of calling for the resignation of Sultan Qaboos. The leader has so far replaced six cabinet members, the Guardian reports.

“We want new faces in the government and we have a long list of social reforms,” Habiba al-Hanay, a 45-year-old civil servant, told the Guardian. “We just hope he will hear us and make changes.”

The most violent protests have taken place in the industrial port city of Sohar, where thousands of demonstrators are said to have clashed with police on Sunday. There are conflicting reports as to whether police fired live ammunition or rubber bullets at demonstrators and how many people have died in the protests. Oman’s health minister said only one protester died in Sohar, but Reuters reports that doctors in Sohar’s main hospital recorded six deaths. Continue reading