Firedoglake- By: David Dayen
Monday February 21, 2011 7:50 am
Let’s play a little catchup on the two most deadly flashpoints in the Arab uprising right now. In Bahrain, scene of a dastardly attack on protesters while they slept in Pearl Square, the attempt at repression backfired almost immediately. The Shiite al-Wafiq movement left the Parliament and demanded the resignation of the government. Protests grew in size. Sen. Patrick Leahy called for the application of a law he wrote to deny aid to Bahrain for violating human rights. And the protesters took back the square, with police and the Army withdrawing.
The latest is that the government is being pressured to negotiate:
Bahrain’s Sunni Muslim ruling family came under increased pressure to open in-depth negotiations with the Shiite-led opposition, as protesters erected more tents on the capital’s Pearl Square.
Dozens of workers also joined the protesters, and more than 1,000 medics marched on the square to demand the resignation of the health minister, whom they accused of slowing aid to protesters during a deadly police crackdown.
After nightfall, an AFP correspondent reported thousands more people converging on the roundabout, which has been the focal point of demonstrations that have rocked the small but strategic Gulf kingdom since February 14.
The opposition has also called a large protest for Tuesday afternoon in the hope that tens of thousands of people will converge on Pearl Square, according to the INAA, Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group.
Crown Prince Salman, the heir to the throne in Bahrain, is supposed to be leading reconciliation talks. Bahrain has a Sunni minority in power over a Shiite majority, with predictable results. This is a really good backgrounder from Foreign Policy. In an epic example of bad timing, the State Department praised Bahrain just a few months ago for its movement toward democracy.
Then there’s Libya, where it’s hard to really get a full picture, with most foreign media unable to enter the country. We know there has been a massacre; the extent is not well known. Moammar Gadhafi’s son went on state-run television and vowed to “fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet.” He gave a long, rambling address, blaming Islamists for the provocation, saying that the country was on the brink of civil war, which threatened their oil output and risked colonization by an invading force, summoning up images of Iraq. Protesters have apparently taken control of Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city, and were clashing with police in the capital of Tripoli.
The latest can be found at Al Jazeera’s live blog. Foreign service personnel and even the minister of security have resigned their posts. Protests have become widespread throughout the country. This is the town of Misurata: