Fresh Clashes in Bahrain During Protest Rallies
The new clashes erupted on Friday during a series of ten rallies that had been licensed and organized by Al Wefaq. Though most of the protests remained peaceful, the Feb. 14 Youth Coalition protesters broke away from one of those official protests, ignoring Wefaq organizers in orange vests with Wefaq logos who were directing traffic, and clashing with policemen. Police used water cannons and armoured vehicles to break up hundreds of protesters as they approached a checkpoint near Pearl Roundabout in Manama, while clashes also broke out in Sanabis, Sitra, and Jidhafs. The U.S. has received criticism from the opposition for its reluctance in condemning abuses committed by the government, and former Miami police chief John Timoney, who has now been hired by the Bahraini government as a consultant, has been particularly scorned. ”How many people have to die from this tear gas from the United States?” one man said. “You don’t have to support us. But just stay away, stay neutral, and let us have our rights.”
Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the Crown Prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, postponed his visit to the U.S. “My understanding is that he had scheduling issues and decided to postpone the entire trip until further into the spring, but you can refer to them. That’s certainly what we were – we understood,” Nuland said, and added that the Crown Prince alerted the State Department of his change in plans several days before clashes broke out, and therefore the situations were unrelated.