Middle Eastern troops enter Bahrain after protests

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have arrived in Bahrain at the government's request after major protests on Sunday.

An estimated 1,000 Saudi Arabian troops entered the country early Monday, followed by around 500 troops from the UAE. The troops entered as part of a broader deployment by the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), a regional group of six countries. It is unclear what purpose the troops are serving, though speculation is that they will guard major infrastructure facilities.

Al Wefaq, the leading opposition party, said it considered "the entry of any soldier or military machinery into the Kingdom of Bahrain's air, sea or land territories a blatant occupation" and that the presence of foreign troops "puts the Bahraini people in real danger, and threatens them with an undeclared war by armed troops."

Statements from the US government, a major Bahrain ally, said that "[t]his is not an invasion of a country" and that it urged both the Bahrain government and the GCC "to exercise restraint" and "act in a way that supports dialogue instead of undermining it."

An official of Iranian Foreign Ministry also criticized the Saudi invasion of Bahrain, saying "it is surprising to see that immediately after the recent trip of the US Defense Secretary [Robert Gates] we see the intensified use of violence against the people of Bahrain."

The intervention came a day after the country saw the worst protests since February, as several dozen people were injured in clashes with police.