Bahrain Deploys National Guard, Kuwaitis Protest Upcoming Election
Bahraini authorities deployed the National Guard to “strategic locations” around the country in order to contain demonstrations and outbreaks of violence. Hadi al-Musawi, a spokesman for the main opposition group al-Wefaq, said Guard troops were seen setting up in Sitra, a center of the revolt. The decision came after a series of explosions in Gudaibya and Adliya which killed two people, and recent clashes at a mosque in Diraz. Police attempted to bar access to the mosque as thousands of opposition members converged to hear a sermon from the kingdom’s most prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim. Witnesses say the gathering erupted into violence as police fired tear gas on the crowd. Additionally, a Bahraini court sentenced 19 Shia opposition members to five years in prison for the attempted murder of policemen in 2011.
An estimated 18,000 Kuwaiti protesters demonstrated in front of parliament in Kuwait City. Opposition members called for a boycott of the election to select the country’s fifth parliament in six years, and for a government that is elected rather than appointed by the ruling al-Sabah family. Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah has indicated that the proposed electoral rules are aimed at preserving national unity and warned that those who assembled illegally would be treated as a threat to national security. ”We have to be aware of the growing dangers in the region and must be aware that this shrapnel is falling around us,” he said in a speech marking the 50th anniversary of Kuwait’s constitution. Meanwhile, authorities released two members of the royal family who were detained for posting tweets deemed to be critical of the regime. ”I asked them [police] to refer me to the public prosecution to defend myself from the horrifying accusations, but they insisted that I sign a pledge and they released me,” said Sheikh Abdullah Salem al-Sabah.