Thursday, March 10, 2011

Royal Saudi Government Sends Strong Anti-Protest Message

Police open fire with guns and bean bags, scattering protesters and clearing the streets

Qatif, Saudi Arabia – Energy speculators are fidgeting following violent clashes with police in this petroleum port city where most of the nation's oil exports are shipped.

Almost all of the oil pipelines that supply the 5-million-barrel-a-day stream of exports pass directly through the city.

Videos posted on social network sites showed footage of police opening fire on demonstrators in this busy oil shipment port on the east coast of Saudi Arabia.

The decision to employ violent means to quell protests came a day before Friday prayers after two weeks of simmering unrest came to a head today.

Sunni youth, human rights activists and intellectuals in Riyadh and Jeddah are agitating for greater political freedom and the formation of a constitutional monarchy.

At the other end of the political spectrum, Shiite activists and devout Muslim clerics are calling for a “Day of Rage” similar to that acted out in Egypt on Friday, March 11, the holy day of the week in Islamic households.

The unrest follows a fortnight of violent clashes in the streets of Bahrain, an island banking and financial center in the Persian Gulf connected to the Saudi Arabian peninsula by a causeway.

Though the violence was stopped for the day, there remains a strong potential for confrontations on Friday.

The Saudi government has deployed 15,000 national guardsmen to prevent the planned demonstrations through curfews in critical areas.

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