Bahrain Strife 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Three hard-line Bahraini Shi’ite groups said on Tuesday they had formed a
coalition aimed at toppling the Sunni monarchy and setting up a republic,
raising tensions days ahead of a planned march on the royal court.
move is likely to be seen as an escalation by the ruling al-Khalifa dynasty and
raises the chances of a renewed security crackdown against mainly Shi’ite
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The new “Coalition for a Republic,” made up of Al-Haq, Wafa
and the Freedom Movement, called for peaceful change through a decentralized
movement of civil disobedience and resistance.
Consisting of groups much
smaller than the main opposition Wefaq movement, the new coalition risks
splitting the broader Shi’ite opposition movement that is demanding an elected
government and a true constitutional monarchy, as well as better access to jobs
within the system.
“This tripartite coalition adopts the choice of
bringing down the existing regime in Bahrain and establishing a democratic
republican system,” Al-Haq leader Hassan Mushaimaa told reporters at Manama’s
main Pearl Square, where protesters are camped out. “The monarchy has failed to
bring down the revolution by force, and it now aims... to coopt its legitimate
demands through murky political games and... by inciting chaos.”
stranger to sporadic protests and rioting, Bahrain has been gripped by the worst
unrest since the 1990s after a youth movement took to the streets last month,
emboldened by revolutions that toppled the leaders of Tunisia and
Seven people were killed in an ensuing clampdown by security
forces early in the protests, but the situation has since calmed.
Kuwait, meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathering outside the main government
building to demand sweeping changes on how the oil-rich country is run, The
Associated Press reported.
Security forces stood by as more than 400
demonstrators moved into an area outside a building holding key offices
including those of Kuwait’s emir and of Prime Minister Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmed
al-Sabah, who is accused by pro-reform groups of stifling political freedoms and
The initial crowd was limited in size, but protest
organizers had to switch venues after police blockaded the central Safat Square
in Kuwait City.
Although the protests mark the first in Kuwait since the
stunning Arab uprisings began, the oil-rich Gulf nation is also no stranger to
political showdowns. Kuwait has the region’s most powerful parliament and
opposition lawmakers have waged open battles against the ruling system,
including nearly bringing down the prime minister two times with no-confidence
One of the protest slogans: “Leave! We Deserve Better!” Others
waved banners saying “New country with a new prime minister.”
judicial officials said a court has rejected an appeal by ousted president Hosni
Mubarak and his family against an order by the country’s top prosecutor to seize
There are no official figures on the funds but many believe
they run into the billions, with much overseas. The officials said the presiding
Judge Makram Awad rejected a defense request for more time to prepare the
And in Syria, authorities have released an 80-year-old former
judge, one of President Bashar Assad’s most outspoken critics, under an amnesty
marking the anniversary of the 1963 coup which brought the Ba’ath Party to
“I am in good shape mentally, which annoys the regime.
march for peaceful democratic change in Syria must continue,” Haitham al-Maleh
told Reuters after his release on Tuesday.
“There are thousands of
political prisoners left who have been thrown in jail upon the orders of the
One day we will have an independent judiciary,” he