Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Saudis ready to aid Bahraini ruler. First riots in Libya after Yemen, Jordan

Despite security police efforts to dislodge them, anti-government protesters continued to occupy the main square of Manama, Bahrain Tuesday night, Feb. 15, even after its ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa made a rare television appearance to regret the two deaths and promised a full investigation.

Wednesday, first protests were reported in Libya, starting in Benghazi, where eyewitnesses report police responded to stone-throwers with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets.

In Yemen, security forces stayed on alert after five days of disturbances by protesters demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh's removal from power although he promised not to run again when his term ends in 2013. Wednesday saw, security forces in Jordan and the army in Syria on high alert.

Saudi Arabia is especially alarmed by the swelling protest in its small but strategic neighbor, Bahrain, site of US Fifth Fleet headquarters for the Gulf region. For the first time, Sunni Muslims joined the majority Shiite protest against the rule of the Al Khalifas who have been in power since 1971. debkafile discloses that shortly before dawn Wednesday, Feb. 16, the Bahraini king secretly asked the Saudis for riot dispersal gear for his security forces to break up the protests. He also asked Saudi Arabia to place its security forces on the ready in case they got out of hand.