A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Bloodshed in Bahrain and Benghazi

Having been tied up through the afternoon and evening, I haven't said much about the bloodshed in Bahrain and in Benghazi, Libya. The early morning attack on the demonstrators' tents in the Lu'lu' (Pearl) traffic roundabout led to several dead, and the security forces struck when most demonstrators were asleep. Nevertheless, the authorities claim they were ambushed. Sleeping people in tents are the sneakiest kind of ambush when you're an armed security force.

At least 14 are said to have died in Benghazi, which means the real total may be higher. Libya's east, the area around Benghazi (the region called Cyrenaica in the colonial era) has long been the most disaffected region against Qadhafi, but open defiance is unusual.

As we've already seen in Iran, when a regime is willing to shed blood, and is united in its determination, protests can be bloodily crushed. What kept Tahrir Square from becoming Tienanmen Square was the refusal of the Egyptian Army to fire on the demonstrators; even so, the death toll in Egypt officially stands at over 300 and may be higher.

Instinct tells me that Libya will crack down hard and the regime will weather the storm, but instinct told me Ben Ali and Mubarak would survive, too, and those are two countries I know well, while I've never set foot in Libya.

A large number of Libya videos can be found here.

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