- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
- U.N. warns of Muslim ‘cleansing’ in Central African Republic
- Senate blocks change to military sex assault cases
- Drug mix may have cured child born with HIV, doctors say
- De Blasio’s wife irks former mansion chef with ‘servant’ remark
- Russia’s neighbors shiver amid Putin’s Cold War moves in Ukraine
- New SAT: The essay portion is to become optional
- Military group can’t march to honor the fallen at Boston Marathon due to security changes
- Senate passes bills deleting ‘retarded’ from laws
- China announces biggest military hike in 3 years: We are not ‘boy scouts with spears’
Saudi-led forces enter Bahrain
Opposition petitions U.N. after incursion
Bahrain’s Shiite-dominated opposition begged the international community Monday for prompt action to “protect the people of Bahrain,” after a Saudi-led military force entered the small island kingdom to help the Sunni-led government quell escalating protests.
The call came in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon signed by the leaders of seven opposition groups. The message requested an emergency Security Council meeting to discuss the 1,000-strong force, which entered Bahrain on Monday morning via the causeway that links the island to Saudi Arabia — one day after protesters blockaded the financial district in the capital, Manama.
“We consider any entrance of any soldier or army vehicle into the vicinity of the kingdom of Bahrain — whether it’s on the ground, by air or by sea — to be an occupation of the country and a conspiracy against the unarmed people of Bahrain,” the letter said of the intervention, which came under the aegis of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
On the microblogging website Twitter, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa said the protesters, who first took to the streets on Feb. 14, were deceiving the world.
“What we are witnessing in Manama [Bahrain’s capital] is no peaceful protest … . It’s wanton, gangster-style takeover of people’s lives,” he wrote.
He also accused opposition leaders of bad faith, saying that “[f]rom Day One, the goal post of demands kept moving.”
The war of words threatened to further inflame the country’s long-simmering Sunni-Shiite tensions, as well as the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which sees itself as protector of the region’s Shiites.
“I believe the whole idea behind it is much more of support, rather than the need to be on the ground,” he said, arguing that Bahrain had sufficient forces of its own to maintain law and order. “I think it is to show solidarity between the GCC countries — that if anything happens to one country, the other countries will come to support it.”
Administration officials have been cautious with their public language on Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.
On Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney urged the GCC to “exercise restraint,” but stopped short of condemning the intervention. “This is not an invasion of a country,” he said.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince Salman in Manama on Friday and told reporters a day later that he was “convinced that they both are serious about real reform.”
The crown prince, whom the king has asked to lead a “national dialogue,” says he accepts the principle of “a parliament with full authority” and “fair voting districts.”
The principles are two key demands of the opposition, which has long complained that the elected house of parliament lacks real sway and that elections for the 40-member body are tainted by anti-Shiite gerrymandering.
Jasim Hussain, one of 18 opposition lawmakers who withdrew from parliament last month in solidarity with the demonstrators, told The Times that Bahrainis need to elect a “constitutional assembly” to draft a new constitution.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
- AP Exclusive: Man said to create bitcoin denies it
- Aronofsky's 'Noah' banned in Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates
- Putin has transformed Russian army into a lean, mean fighting machine
- Back to the Future: HUVr Tech marketing video goes viral with hoverboard release tease
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
- U.S. tasks Navy destroyer to Black Sea amid Ukraine tensions
- Unemployment insurance vote could happen next week
- Two liberals say Sarah Palin is right: Obama lacks substance
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rutgers professors to Condi Rice: Go home, and take your speech with you
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again