Manama, Asharq Al-Awsat- At dawn yesterday, Bahraini security forces ended the sit-in demonstrations taking place in Pearl Square, after it had been occupied for 30 days by the protestors. Bahraini forces also cleared protestors from other major roads in the commercial district of Manama, the Bahraini capital, and likewise from the Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC), the largest state hospital in Bahrain, where the protestors had staged a sit-in since the outbreak of the crisis. The Bahraini Ministry of Interior said that security forces surrounded the complex and evacuated “those occupying it, who had closed it off by welding the doors and forming barricades with ambulances, in order to block the security forces’ progress. However, the forces were able to clear the complex”.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, yesterday received a telephone call from the U.S. President, Barack Obama, during which they discussed bilateral relations between the two countries, and the latest developments in the region, including the situation in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
In response to a similar move by Bahrain, Iran has recalled its ambassador from Manama, in protest against the abuse committed by the Bahraini authorities against the Shiite protestors.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the situation in Bahrain as “alarming” and criticized the Gulf states’ military deployment as “the wrong track.”
For his part, the Bahraini Defense Force spokesman declared a curfew in the country, which came into effect yesterday, and will last until further notice. The curfew applies from 4 o’clock in the evening until 4 o’clock in the morning, in a number of areas of the capital that have been subject to unrest. Witnesses have pointed out that Bahrain has experienced calm in the wake of the curfew being declared.
The unrest triggered jitters on oil markets where New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, gained 43 cents to $98.41 per barrel in Asian trade on Thursday, dealers said.
Several international bank branches and other businesses in Bahrain remained shut.
HSBC said it reopened just one of its four branches. Standard Chartered reopened two of its seven branches. Both banks shut all their offices Wednesday.
Bahrain’s stock exchange reopened. It was up 1.3 percent by midday.
Bahrain’s national carrier Gulf Air has canceled all flights to and from Iran and Iraq. Both countries, like Bahrain, have Shiite majorities. Flights to Iraq are scheduled to resume Friday, and those to Iran on Monday.