As Bahrain Turns?


Once again, Wikileaks sheds light on government failure. Just because these monarchs talk a modern game and are West-friendly (hello, King of Jordan), they actually rule in the end by the barrel of a gun and many by torture (hello, King of Jordan). Yes, Bahrain had elections. But look how they saw the possibility of real democracy. Apparently, the US has been trying to get the government to chill (but one senses that the real strings are being pulled in Saudi Arabia).

But, however it happened, in the last few hours, the tide seems to have turned:

Thousands of jubilant protesters surged back into the symbolic heart of Bahrain on Saturday after government security forces withdrew and the monarchy called for peace after two days of violent crackdowns...

The day started ... with the police firing tear gas and rubber bullets at crowds of protesters. Young men collapsed in the road and others ran for cover. Then the government blinked, perhaps sensing that the only way to calm a spiral of violence that claimed more lives with each passing day was to cede the square to the protesters.

The police left, so suddenly and so completely that it took a minute for the protesters to realize they were gone and that they once again controlled Pearl Square.

By early evening, tens of thousands of people waving Bahrain flags, some dropping to the ground to pray, shouting congratulations to each other, had packed the square and the surrounding streets in bittersweet jubilation, savoring the moment with a degree of sadness for the loss of at least seven people killed during the week, disbelief that they had prevailed and absolute joy at their success.

(Photo: A person holds a flower in front of a barbed wire fence as anti-government demonstrators re-occupy Pearl roundabout on February 19, 2011 in Manama, Bahrain. Anti-government protesters were fired at with tear gas and rubber bullets as they marched to retake the roundabout, injuring several protestors at the site of two deadly previous confrontations between police and demonstrators. The Bahrain military has since backed off. By John Moore/Getty Images)