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Cablegate: Clashes Between Shi'a Youth and Police: Update

VZCZCXRO8676
PP RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHMK #1113 3551502
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211502Z DEC 07 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7502
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAMA 001113

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2017
TAGS: PGOV ASEC PHUM KISL BA
SUBJECT: CLASHES BETWEEN SHI'A YOUTH AND POLICE: UPDATE
DEC 21

REF: A. MANAMA 1105
B. MANAMA 1109
C. MANAMA 1110
D. MANAMA 1112

Classified By: DCM Christopher Henzel for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1.(SBU) After a lull December 19, Shi'a youth once again clashed with security forces December 20 in the village of Jid Hafs, west of Manama. That afternoon Shi'a leaders, including Al-Wifaq's Ali Salman, and Hassan Mushaima of the radical Al-Haq, led a peaceful procession to the grave of Ali Jassim Mekki (refs C and D). After the ceremonies, several hundred youths returned to the village and began setting rubbish fires and vandalizing shops. The police had deliberately established a light presence there in hopes of avoiding further confrontations. According to interior ministry contacts, a crowd severely beat one of the few policemen present, burned his jeep and stole his weapon. Security reinforcements then arrived and reasserted control over most of the area, but youths continued throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at police well into the night. At least four rioters were injured and part of the village market burned down.

2. (SBU) Police were out in force in Jid Hafs after noon prayers December 21, and there were no disturbances. At sundown police had closed off Jid Hafs, Sanabis and several other Shi'a neighborhoods. Ali Salman Again Appeals for Calm ---------------------------------

3. (C) In his Friday noon sermon in Diraz, Ali Salman told 2000 worshippers that violence was not the way to achieve their goals. A pol/econ FSN present reported that Salman told the largely receptive audience that street violence only played into the hands of those who oppose reform. By forcing Al-Wifaq to focus on re-establishing stability in Shi'a villages, the violence would distract the movement from advancing its agenda with the government. In a veiled criticism of his rivals in the radical Al-Haq movement, Salman said that Al-Wifaq never called for a demonstration that it couldn't control. He called on families to keep their young men out of the streets.

4. (C) Comment: One factor that made this year's "Martyr's Day" (ref C) and its aftermath more violent than usual is the holiday schedule. A chain of national holidays, religious holidays and weekends from December 14 through December 22 produce nine evenings on which Shi'a youth are more likely than usual to be out late. The holidays also mean that several moderate Shi'a leaders, as well as King Hamad, are out of the country. ********************************************* ******** Visit Embassy Manama's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX********************************************* ******** ERELI

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