16 March 2011 Arlington VA
Pakistan releases the CIA Contractor US had declared a Diplomat to hide his actual status
CNN News reported that "CIA contractor Raymond Davis has been released from jail in Pakistan after the families of two men he killed in January forgave him, a government official said Wednesday. Punjab province law minister Rana Sanaullah first told Pakistani media that the victims' families did not want to press charges and added soon after that Davis was free to go. The statement came just hours after the American was charged with murder in connection with the shootings."
"The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan declined to answer repeated CNN questions about whether Davis had left jail or where he is now. According to Davis, the January 27 shooting occurred after two men attacked him as he drove through a busy Lahore neighborhood, the U.S. Embassy says."
The US State Department had argued for weeks that Davis was a diplomat--implying that he was a Federal employee and entitled to immunity.
The Situation in Bahrain remains grim at best
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that in Bahrain, "At least five people were killed and hundreds wounded when police cleared demonstrators from Manama's Pearl Square on Wednesday in an attempt to halt weeks of popular unrest. The violence, so soon after the Saudi-led intervention, will further embarrass Washington, which had urged dialogue to tackle Bahrain's problems and says Riyadh did not consult it before moving troops to the island where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based."
"That may be the case, but U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Bahrain at the weekend. To many Arabs the timing smacks of U.S. complicity in King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa's decision to invite the Saudis in and declare martial law."
"That will create a narrative that does not make the U.S. look good," said Shadi Hamid of the Doha Brookings Center. "It puts the U.S. on one side of the conflict, which is with the status quo and the Bahraini ruling family."
Non-Arab Iran, which has in the past laid claim to Bahrain, has denounced what it sees as U.S.-backed Gulf Arab meddling. "It is not possible to stop a popular uprising by using armed forces of other countries," said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "These are ugly and failing actions."
"The clampdown in Bahrain suggests that a conservative wing of the ruling family, backed by its Saudi counterparts, has won out over reformers led by Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, who last month offered dialogue with the Shi'ite opposition and said protesters could stay in Pearl Square."
"A main demand of Bahrain's pro-democracy movement has been the resignation of conservative Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who has held his post for 40 years. Bahraini Shi'ites have long complained of discrimination in housing and jobs, charges the government rejects. The protesters had sought to cast their movement as national, not sectarian"
And in Libya...
Voice of America reports that "Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi attacked rebels in the western city of Misrata with heavy artillery Wednesday, killing at least four people. Witnesses say the rebel-held city has come under attack from the east and south. Government forces have also pounded the eastern city of Ajdabiya, but reports from rebels there say they have repelled pro-Gadhafi advances and are in almost total control of the city. The rebels disputed a Libyan state television report Tuesday that pro-government forces had regained control of Ajdabiya."
"The city is close to the opposition stronghold of Benghazi and would give access to roads leading to the opposition's base if retaken by pro-Gadhafi forces. The lightly armed and poorly organized opposition fighters have not been able to stop the advance of the Libyan army with its aircraft, tanks and heavy weapons. Over the past week, the previous rebel advance to the west has been pushed back nearly 200 kilometers."
Finally, the White House...
In the White House, it was business as usual, with president Obama urging people to stop filling out brackets for march Madness (The NCAA Tournament) to contribute to charities supporting Jpanaese re-construction efforts. No mention of Libya today.