By 16 February protesters in Bahrain had taken control of the Pearl roundabout in central Manama, undeterred by an aggressive response from police after the protests had started three days earlier and left two men dead.
A wary stalemate seemed to be emerging as foreign minister Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed al-Khalifa put out a statement late on 16 February saying that “Bahrain does not condone the use of excessive force at any time”.
Yet later that night police stormed the protesters leaving at least another two people dead.
By the morning of the 17 February police had reclaimed the area where protesters had been developing a makeshift camp, akin to that seen in Tahrir Square in Egypt.
What happens next is unclear. Protesters had been talking about taking their demonstrations to Bahrain’s most high profile tourist event, the Formula One race in mid-March. Attempts by the police to frighten protesters back to their homes may have worked, but many have been emboldened by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and are well aware that it took them over two weeks of constant protests to get the regime change they demanded.
Even if protests do not occur at the Formula One, the world has now watched Bahrainis being attacked by their own security forces breaking up peaceful protests. Forgetting that image will be hard.
The island’s reforming image that it has worked so hard over the past few years to develop, now lies battered and bruised amongst the debris of Pearl roundabout.