Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Getting the **** Out

The U.S. State Department is, that is. A new, strongly-worded travel warning issued yesterday "urge[s] U.S. citizens to defer travel to Bahrain at this time" and notes, more importantly, that "the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure from Bahrain of eligible family members of U.S. Embassy staff." I was in Yemen in 2008 when the same thing happened -- though following attacks on the U.S. embassy and a embassy housing compound in Sana'a -- so there must be no little worry now on the part of the U.S. The Saudi entry cannot have helped.

The most telling part of the statement is the blunt description of the situation in Bahrain, which if basically universally-acknowledged at this point is still notable coming from State. They write,
Bahrain has experienced a breakdown in law and order in various areas of the country over the last few weeks. Demonstrations have degenerated into violent clashes between police and protesters on several occasions, resulting in injuries. There also have been multiple reports of sectarian groups patrolling areas throughout Bahrain and establishing unofficial vehicle checkpoints. On March 14, 2011, foreign military elements entered Bahrain. Spontaneous demonstrations and violence can be expected throughout the country.

Update: The U.S. announcement makes even more sense now in light of the three-month state of emergency--or, as he calls it, a "state of national safety," which sounds so much better--just announced by King Hamad. Of course in the Arab world states of emergency have a way of being extended indefinitely.

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