It’s not that easy to get soldiers to shoot at their own people. Ishaan Tharoor writes in TIME via Yahoo News:
While the protests convulsing Bahrain and Libya this past week occurred in vastly different contexts – and will likely produce very different results — both were met with conspicuously swift crackdowns.
And in both cases, reports suggest the Libyan and Bahraini regimes deployed foreign fighters and mercenaries against their own citizens, lethal clashes that left scores wounded and many dead.
Though difficult to substantiate in the current chaos, reports from eastern Libya, in particular from the city of Benghazi, claim that snipers and militiamen from sub-Saharan Africa gunned down residents on the streets. The Dubai-based al-Arabiya network says some of the guerrillas were Francophone mercenaries recruited by one of the sons of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Qatar-based al-Jazeera detailed pamphlets circulated to mercenary recruits from Guinea and Nigeria, offering them $2,000 per day to crack down on the Libyan uprising. And, as further reports of defections from the Libyan military filter in, the cornered Gaddafi regime may turn more and more to hired guns from abroad. On television channels and Twitter, frantic rumors circulated about Gaddafi preparing for a mercenary-backed counteroffensive against his opponents.
While the violence appears to have pushed Libya to a tipping point, protests in Bahrain slackened after a week of bloody confrontations between demonstrators and the country’s security forces. Sectarian tensions underlie the unrest, with the tiny island kingdom’s Sunni Muslim monarchy pitted against the country’s predominantly Shi’ite population. A significant segment of the state’s security personnel are Sunnis brought in from countries like Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Pakistan to buttress the ruling dynasty’s authority. It’s a policy that Shi’ites say is symbolic of widespread institutional discrimination in Bahrain, and it played a key role in clashes earlier this month when uncompromising — and often foreign — security forces violently dispersed protesting crowds, killing at least six.
Read More: TIME via Yahoo News