Update: Not long after the “apology” the Bahraini police moved against the protesters yet again, attacking the Pearl Square roundabout where they have gathered. Since the apology didn’t work, it seems officials decided to go back to busting heads.
Protests are continuing apace in the tiny nation of Bahrain, and an official apology from the king for the deaths of some of the demonstrators at the hands of his police doesn’t appear to have calmed anger over the situation.
Indeed, many were expecting the king’s speech, which was announced in advance, to include some promises for reforms, but instead it shrugged off the protests and the calls for change in the tiny nation of less than 600,000 people. Now there’s even more anger about the king’s lack of reforms.
The early protests center around a long-standing issue, that the majority of the population of Bahrain is Shi’ite and the king is a Sunni, and there have been long-standing accusations of discrimination against the majority. Pretty quickly however the protests grew beyond this and into a broad, Egypt-style opposition movement.
Which is perhaps even more onerous a potential loss from the US than the fall of the Mubarak regime. Bahrain is the home of the US 5th fleet, and while there has been no explicit discussion of ending the US presence, the administration clearly fears that it will have a harder time retaining a presence in a foreign nation without a loyal tyrant at the helm. Unfortunately for them tyrants, loyal to the US or no, have fallen out of fashion.