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Wed 16 Mar 2011 01:47 PM

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Gulf troops in Bahrain may spur Iran to join conflict

Islamic state may use Gulf troops as reason to intervene in Bahrain protests, say experts

Gulf troops in Bahrain may spur Iran to join conflict
Gulf troops in Bahrain may spur Iran to join conflict
Bahraini National guard arrest a man believed to be a journalist as he walked towards Pearl Roundabout in the Bahraini capital Manama, on March 16, 2011 (Getty Images)
Gulf troops in Bahrain may spur Iran to join conflict
Black smoke billows from burning tents in Pearl Square in Bahraini capital Manama on March 16, 2011, after Bahraini police killed at least two protesters and wounded dozens more as they assaulted a peaceful protest camp in the capitals Pearl Roundabout, an opposition party official said (Getty Images)
Gulf troops in Bahrain may spur Iran to join conflict
Black smoke billows from burning tents in Pearl Roundabout in Bahraini capital Manama on March 16, 2011 (Getty Images)
Gulf troops in Bahrain may spur Iran to join conflict
Black smoke billows from burning tents in Pearl Square in Bahraini capital Manama on March 16, 2011, after Bahraini police killed at least two protesters and wounded dozens more as they assaulted a peaceful protest camp in the capitals Pearl Roundabout, an opposition party official said (Getty Images)

The arrival of Saudi and other Gulf troops in Bahrain may provide a stepping stone for Iran to join the regional conflict, analysts said Wednesday.

“Clearly the situation is spiraling out of control and getting dangerous,” said Theodore Karasik of the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

“I think we are moving to a new chapter… It has the potential of pulling in Iran rhetorically as well as physically. Last week, it seems more distant, now it seems closer,” he said.

Iran may use the notion of foreign interference to intervene under the guise of offering protection to protesting Shiites in the kingdom, he said.

“It is the proxy war they [Iran and the Gulf states] have been having that has come through various cycles and is now coming to a head,” he said.

Iran was quick to condemn the arrival of Gulf troops on Monday, urging Bahrain not to allow what it called foreign interference in protests that have gripped the island for more than a month.

“Using other countries' military forces to oppress these demands is not the solution,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hossein Amir Abdollahian told the Fars news agency.

Christopher Davidson, professor of Middle East politics at the UK’s Durham University, said the presence of Gulf troops would “delegitimize the ruling family, embolden the protestors, and anger Iran.”

Iran has denied rumours that it is backing Shiite activists in the kingdom.

Two Bahraini policemen were killed Wednesday during an operation to clear anti-government protestors from a central roundabout in Manama where they have camped for weeks, a health official said. [latest photos]

The two policemen were knocked down by protesters driving in cars at high speeds, the official said. It was not clear how many protesters were hurt.

Bahrain security forces used tear gas to drive protesters from their rallying point at the central Pearl Roundabout in Manama, after Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries sent military support.

The mostly Shiite Muslim demonstrators fled into nearby backstreets as military vehicles were deployed near the area and helicopters flew overhead. Gunfire was heard in the capital.

Riot police put out fires with water cannons and began to fan out into the city streets after Pearl Roundabout was emptied. The stock market suspended trading.

Bahrain on Tuesday declared a three-month state of emergency after troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states arrived in the kingdom to help quell protests driven by the majority Shiites, who are calling for democracy and civil rights.

Some opposition groups taking part in the protests have escalated their demands to include the overthrow of the Sunni rulers, the Al Khalifa family, and the declaration of a republic.

Bahraini police opened fire on protesters in the village of Sitra yesterday, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said. At least two people were killed and 250 people injured during clashes, Ali Al-Akri, a doctor in the emergency room of the Salmaniya Medical Complex, said in an interview.

“Their mission is supposed to be to protect buildings and infrastructure but that mission may change,” said Karasik. “They went in under the guise of the Peninsula Shield, which was an entity after the Gulf War and serves as a collective defense pact against outside force but here it is being used to suppress internal dissent in a member state.”

The US has urged Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter and a key ally in the Gulf Arab region, to show restraint, though analysts said the escalation showed the limits of US influence when internal security was threatened.

“The international community is hamstrung as the US likely places its alliance with the Bahraini rulers against Iran above concerns for supporting pro-democracy protestors,” said Davidson.

Saleem 8 years ago

By same token Arab countries should enter there forces into Iran when it is trying to quell rebellion and voice of democracy in its own country .

tony 8 years ago

Saleem, by the same token, the Shia minority should be ruling the Sunni majority in Saudi Arabia :-)

Sujit 8 years ago

It is a shame that, on the one hand, the US administration cannot exercise positive influence on these oppressive regimes, whilst on the other hand, the initial gestures of the US sympathising with pro-democracy protesters have encouraged and driven them from frying pan into fire.

Hashim Hussain 8 years ago

For the most part, the demands of the protestors are not unreasonable. The fact that you have such large anti government rallies in such a small country does actually mean that there is need for some sort of change and that there actually IS something wrong.

It doesnt matter if its Bahrain or Iran or China? When you have to declare a state of emergency for three months, you definitely have a problem which if left without a solution will only bubble back to the surface sooner or later, and this is what has been happening in Bahrain over and over again since the 50s.

There is need for reform that respects the aspirations of the people in a fair manner. The use of force, though a stabilizing factor in the short term, is only a reciepe for disaster in the long run. Who has more to loose? History lane has the answer. Peace

Omar Shamma 8 years ago

The days darken as Muslims kill Muslims. Whatever happened to the saying "There is no religious hatred in Islam"?

As Arabs and Muslims we often feel we hold ourselves to higher more noble values than cultures in the West. I wonder what would happen in Europe, say, in the UK if the Government silenced its protesting citizens by force. It is unthinkable...it would not happen.

The GCC joint protection agreement should be against external threats, not against their own populations.

Shame on us, when will we learn!

Red Snappa 8 years ago

Iran undoubtedly has a grand plan in terms of influence over the Middle East region, most political strategy analysts say the same. They're working diligently in Iraq, Bahrain's quite a key piece of the jigsaw as is the eastern province of Saudi Arabia.

Fortunately you have the American fleet in situ so nothing direct from Tehran unless the time has truly come for serious conflict but infiltration undoubtedly yes, the Republican Guard will no doubt be planning vigorously.

The US administration will insist on reforms in this region for sure, GCC needs the protection of the oil flow just as much as the US do, so GCC will have to give something.

Saiyed Naqvi 8 years ago

Saleem Iran already has Democracy and leaders are selected in every elections.

Its Bahrain that is having same prime minister from ruling family for last 40 years.

Reda 8 years ago

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=283032&id=674366490&l=5bd4381763
Brutality and inhumanity at its peak

Dave 8 years ago

True.

I wish it will fail and peace prevail for the sake of the poor people.

Dave 8 years ago

Omar,
Shame on you down holding your own people at their times of distress.

Your people established the greatest civilizations in history, based on equality and freedom.

Your region is going through tough times.
It all started with our western 'colonization' to steal wealth.
We we had to leave, we placed 'puppet' rulers to help guarantee out 'interests'.

As for UK, and the rest, we had our share till very recent years!.

But you people forget quickly!