Hundreds of troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates arrived in Bahrain on Monday, March 14 under the auspices of the Gulf Co-Operation Council to help the kingdom control a wave of anti-government protests that began on February 14. No one knows how the troops will be deployed, but human rights organizations and numerous foreign governments have urged Bahrain to exercise restraint. Protesters are still camping out on the Pearl Roundabout, where there have previously been serious incidents of violence and at least eight deaths. Adding to the trouble is strong sectarian tension between Shiites (majority) and Sunnis (minority) that several power brokers seek to magnify.
he following text is from an email sent to Global Voices by a blogger who has asked to remain anonymous. It is republished with permission.
Let’s put it this way, so far it is not very clear what is happening. Yes, last night there was tear gas and rubber bullets all over pearl roundabout (not square!). Today, the town seems extremely quiet. They have blocked a good chunk of the city, and lots of people have not been able to go to work. I went out for a little cruise around town earlier today. In grocery stores, people are stocking up goods. In the booze shop too!
Many students were dismissed from school. Some schools have the week off, while others schools were forced by the ministry of education to stay open and have students attend classes. As for the university, a minor clash involving tear gas etc. occurred within one. I do not know what happened exactly.
The media is not doing a very good job here at alerting us to what’s going on… And now on TV, there are troops coming in on the Saudi Causeway in tanks, waving hello and showing the peace sign! And then there are intervals of the traditional dance with the Saudi King, and Bahrain’s King and ruling family, and that apparently is the traditional war song! It did not happen today, but they keep repeating clips of it.
What will happen next?
It’s all very odd!!! Tomorrow everyone has the day off. The guys at the roundabout asked their wives and kids to go home, and many are wrapped in – I do not know what you call it – it’s like ‘coffin’ cloth or this canvas they use here to wrap dead bodies. Maybe those are the ones who would rather die for a good cause and have nothing else in life, I really do not know. I think it’s insane and that everyone should just go home and stop going to the roundabout. I hope they do not get shot, but chances are bad if they resist and do not clear the area.
Gas stations have gone on strike, and there are warnings that ‘electricity might be switched off’. Other warnings and rumors included ‘Dear sunni’s if you approach a cop or a tank, you might be shot’. Another warning is not ro go out at night in groups, or else there is a risk of being shot.
And of course, the jokes are out too… Saudi troops are not heading to pearl roundabout, they are going to Exhibition Road!! (where the prostitutes and cheap pubs are).
Today at the Pearl Roundabout there are people giving their speeches, but it is quiet and fine. My friends walked around, the people there have always been friendly and inviting, for tea, coffee, food…etc… Only the media shows them in a different way. I also went there earlier on, and it felt like a carnival.
The pro-government people had to do their thing around the clock at the roundabout too, which is very close to the Royal Court, praising the King the family…etc.
People are glued to the TV hoping for something, but there is nothing, except stupid fluff like ‘We love you King Hamad’, and ‘We know that you don’t sleep if we’re awake,’ and tears and drama and thank you for sending those troops to save our lives!! There is nothing, no words, coming out from the Government or King or Prime Minister. We do not know what is coming next. Thank God for BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter and things like that where we can keep track of what people are actually seeing.