Before dawn this morning, security forces in Bahrain attacked Manama's Pearl roundabout — the focal point of that country's month-long antimonarchy protests — killing at least six, setting fires and firing teargas. But they didn't stop there. According to a doctor who spoke to CNN, Yousif Sharaf, a hospital in Manama has been attacked, too:
"We are trapped. We are asking for the security forces to please stay outside the hospital. They are beating the staff."
It's unclear what part (if any) the 1,000 strong Saudi detachment of the Peninsula Shield Force was playing in the crackdown, but they were sent to Bahrain for a reason. The ruling minority Sunni monarchy in Bahrain has long used the Iranian Shiite bogeyman as an excuse for suppressing basic freedoms, and for not implementing any real political reform demanded by the country's Shiite majority — an excuse that is, frankly, bullshit. As Middle East scholar Juan Cole notes:
In fact, most Saudi and Bahrain Shiites have simply been calling for constitutional monarchy and parliamentary governance, a call that is controversial only because both governments are absolute monarchies. Saudi Shiite cleric Tawfiq al-Amer was briefly jailed for demanding a constitutional monarchy.
And what is Bahrain's ruling family saying about events today? According to Al Jazeera English's Gregg Carlstrom, they're taking a page from the Hosni Mubarak playbook:
[Amateur video of today's crackdown via AJE]