Saturday, February 19, 2011

INSIDE Bahrain's Protests (The Daily Beast)

On Saturday, protesters commandeered Pearl Square, the epicenter of the revolt, from government forces—but it was a battle hard won. Karen Leigh reports from the center of the strife. Plus, The Daily Beast answers six key questions about the uprising.

Inside the Bahrain Revolt

Karen Leigh
We think we're in trouble. At the top of this street near Pearl Square—the central Manama roundabout that became ground zero for anti-government protests this week—there's an unexpected wall of riot police with shields and guns. They've got these weapons in hand as they start coming toward us.
Like most of what's gone on in Manama since Monday, it's been hard to predict where the day will go. This grassroots effort has relied mostly on word-of-mouth and has reacted quickly and strongly to any motion by Bahraini officials. I've been in Bahrain since Thursday, reporting on the uprising for The Daily Beast.
Article - Leigh Bahrain Update 2/19
Anti-government demonstrators rally in front of police as they re-occupy Pearl roundabout on February 19 in Manama, Bahrain. (Photo: John Moore / Getty Images)
After the army's vicious, king-mandated, live-ammo crackdown on sleeping protesters in Pearl Square on Thursday the revolutionaries remained peaceful, but angrier. Their demands did a 180—from a simple theme of "more rights for all" and demands for changes to the current constitution, to the desire to topple the entire royal government.
After condemnation from the international community—with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging "restraint" in dealing with demonstrators—Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the king of Bahrain, turned the situation over to his son, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, also Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

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