Mohamed Jaffar, looks from the shoulders of mourners at the casket of his father who was shot in the chest. Funeral in Karranah, Bahrain
Kuwait Navy set for Bahrain Saudi Shias rally

 KUWAIT CITY, March 18, (Agencies): Kuwait’s navy plans to head to Bahrain soon to protect the Gulf Arab island nation’s waters, Kuwait’s ambassador to Bahrain was quoted as saying on Thursday.
On Monday, Bahrain asked for support under a Gulf defence pact after weeks of protests by pro-democracy activists, mainly majority Shiites who complain of discrimination by a Sunni monarchy.
The ambassador, Sheikh Azzam al-Sabah, was cited by Kuwait’s Watan news service, which gave no further details. Kuwaiti officials could immediately not be reached for comment.
Some 1,000 Saudi soldiers and 500 police officers from the United Arab Emirates entered Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, earlier this week as Bahraini security forces led a crackdown on protests that have been going on for over a month.

The leader of Bahrain’s largest opposition group on Thursday urged Saudi Arabia to withdraw its forces and called for a UN inquiry into a crackdown on mainly Shi’ite protesters that has raised tensions in the oil-exporting region.

Rooftops

The nighttime cries of dissent went out from the rooftops shortly after the text messages came through. For nearly 15 minutes, just as the messages exhorted, they called out to the sky: “God is Great!” as soldiers and police took hold of the streets below.
In the capital, Manama, and in Shiite

villages like Sitra, the hub of Bahrain’s oil industry, Bahrain’s crackdown on the monthlong uprising expanded, drawing the full fury of the Sunni monarchy and its Saudi-led allies, who see the Shiite demands for a say in running the country as a threat to the 200-year-old rule.

Bahrain’s royal family is gambling that it can survive the sectarian fault lines that splinter the kingdom and the region, with the help of a 1,500-strong force led by the Saudis to bolster a government that the Gulf’s Sunni leaders — and the US — see as a bulwark against Shiite Iran’s expanding military ambitions.

As night fell, residents of Sitra and other Shiite villages outside the capital Manama braced for new violence, stocking up on provisions. Young men armed with sticks, stones and kitchen knives geared up to confront Bahrain’s army.

“We are not afraid, but we are cautious because we know they came here to kill us,” said Mohammed Said, a 30-year-old from Sitra, pushing a supermarket cart packed with frozen chicken, bottled water, chickpeas and bread.

As the curfew went into effect, people shouted “God Is Great” from across Manama’s rooftops. Opposition leaders sent texts earlier, asking people to shout twice every night “to tell the army your tanks cannot silence us.” The cries mirrored a protest used last year by Iran’s opposition, who would cry out “God is Great!” from rooftops at night at the height of that regime’s crackdown.

Shouting “down with King Hamad”, thousands of Bahrainis buried an activist killed in the crackdown.
Mourners carrying pictures of activist Ahmed Farhan, killed on Wednesday, followed a car carrying his flag-covered coffin.

No security forces were present, but a helicopter buzzed overhead and it was unclear if police would disperse the mourners in line with a blanket ban on public gatherings.
“This is a big loss... They can say what they want about us but we are non-violent. We will never use violence,” said Yousif Hasan Ali, who was in jail with Farhan, 30, for over two years.
“They may silence this generation but another will rise up to demand revenge for the blood that was shed now.”

Bahrain has arrested seven opposition leaders and driven pro-democracy demonstrators from the streets after weeks of protests that prompted the king to declare martial law and led to the arrival of troops from fellow Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia.

Three protesters died in the security sweep. Three policemen were also killed, hit by cars driven by demonstrators.

Sheikh Issa Qassim, Bahrain’s most influential Shi’ite cleric, said in his Friday sermon that Gulf troops would have been better off helping Palestinians in Gaza than entering Bahrain and thanked those who died or resigned in the uprising.

“The violence of the authorities has created a deep, wide and dangerous wound between the government and people,” he said.
“The government wants to break our will so we give up our calls for substantial and meaningful reforms, but they will never break our will. They can use tanks and planes to smash our bodies but will never break our souls and our will for reforms.”
No troops or police could be seen as thousands of worshippers stood outside Draz mosque after Qassim’s sermon, calling for Gulf troops to leave and vowing to fight what they called this “corrupt and oppressive regime.”

“Peninsula Shield Out,” they called, and “Bahrain is free.”
The protest lasted less than half an hour and worshippers dispersed to attend the funeral.
Showing its desire to avoid new violence, the largest Shi’ite party Wefaq told its followers by text message not to provoke police and not to use slogans that offend the royals.
Shaking their fists, mourners shouted “death to al-Khalifa” and “death to Al Saud”, referring to the Sunni ruling families of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

“I’m not really afraid, the worst is that I get killed and it would be for Bahrain, right? Better to die trying to get our freedom,” said Haitham, 45, a Shi’ite from Sitra.

The crackdown in Bahrain has provoked sympathy protests by Shiites across the region, including in top oil exporter Saudi Arabia which has sent over 1,000 troops to its tiny neighbour.

Shi’ite Muslim power Iran, which supports Shi’ite groups in Iraq and Lebanon, complained to the United Nations and asked other neighbours to join it in urging Saudi Arabia to withdraw.
“How could one accept a government to invite foreign military forces to suppress its own citizens?” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, also addressed to the Arab League.
In a sign of rising tension, Bahrain replied: “Iran’s move does not serve security and stability in the Gulf region.”

More than 60 percent of Bahrainis are Shiites. Most are campaigning for a constitutional monarchy, but calls by hardliners for the overthrow of the monarchy have alarmed Sunnis, who fear the unrest serves Iran, separated from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain by only a short stretch of Gulf waters.
Analysts say the intervention of Saudi Arabia, which worries that protests by Bahraini Shiites will incite its own Shi’ite minority, could worsen already poor ties with Iran.
One woman praying at Draz said she was Sunni: “The government is making this a sectarian issue. I see the way my friends are treated and I came here to show solidarity.”
Opposition groups have said they will press on with peaceful resistance, standing outside their homes at certain hours, flying the flag from their rooftops and calling “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is Great”, from rooftops at night. It was not clear what else they could do without provoking a confrontation.
Saudi

About 10 Saudi Shiite protesters were hurt in clashes with riot police on Friday as they rallied in support of Bahraini Shiites facing a deadly crackdown, a witness to the violence in Saudi Arabia said.
The clash took place in the city of Omran, in the oil-rich Eastern Province, and “the injuries were because of the use of batons and not shots,” the witness told AFP by telephone.
There were also demonstrations in other parts of the Eastern Province, where the overwhelming majority of the estimated two million Saudi Shiites live.
Some 2,500 people protested in Awamiya, and about 1,000 each in Safwa and Al-Rabeeya, all near Qatif City where Shiites have been demonstrating for the fourth day in a row, the witness said.
Protesters raised slogans in support of Bahraini Shiites who have been the target of a police crackdown, and also calling for the release of nine Shiites who have been in prison in Saudi Arabia without trial since 1996.

Statue
Bahrain tore down on Friday the statue at the centre of Pearl roundabout, focal point and symbol of weeks of pro-democracy protests in the Gulf island kingdom.
Drills and diggers cut away at the six bases of the statue for hours, until it collapsed into a mound of rubble and steel bars. Trucks stood by to take away the debris.
The concrete statue of six dhow sails holding up a pearl was erected in the early 1980s to mark a summit of formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Each of the six sails represents one of the members of the GCC, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman. The pearl represents the joint heritage of the Gulf countries, whose economies were based on pearl fishing before the discovery of oil.
Mainly Shiite protesters had taken over the grass-covered roundabout near the financial district of Manama during weeks of protests, setting up a tent city where free food was handed out and political speeches and rallies were held into the night.
Bahraini riot police launched a crackdown on the Pearl roundabout protest camp on Wednesday, driving out demonstrators. Military troops later arrived to seal off the area which is under a 12 hour daily curfew.
Qatari troops are part of the Gulf forces deployed to Bahrain to put down Shiite-led protests against the Sunni dynasty there, said a Qatari military official.
“The duty of the Qatari force participating in the Peninsula Shield force is to contribute in restoring order and security” in Bahrain, Qatar news agency QNA quoted Colonel Abdullah Al-Hajri as saying late Thursday.
This is the first official confirmation of Qatar’s contribution to Gulf troops in Bahrain.
“As a Qatari force we are receiving our orders from the head of the joint Peninsula Shield Force. There are no Qatari forces outside the Peninsula Shield” in Bahrain, Hajri said.
 

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