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Tue 15 Mar 2011 01:49 PM

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Gulf troops in Bahrain unacceptable, says Iran

Arrival of 1,500 Saudi, UAE soldiers in Bahrain will accelerate political unrest, says Iranian foreign minister

Gulf troops in Bahrain unacceptable, says Iran
Bahrain has been gripped by its worst unrest since the 1990s after protesters took to the streets last month (Getty Images)
Gulf troops in Bahrain unacceptable, says Iran
Gulf troops in Bahrain unacceptable, says Iran
Gulf troops in Bahrain unacceptable, says Iran

Iran denounced the arrival of Saudi troops in Bahrain as unacceptable on Tuesday and the United States urged its nationals to leave the island, which has been roiled by a Shi'ite uprising against the Sunni elite.

Analysts saw Monday's troop movement into Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, as a mark of concern in Saudi Arabia that concessions by the country's monarchy could inspire the conservative Sunni-ruled kingdom's own Shi'ite minority.

More than 1,000 Saudi troops rolled over the causeway that links it to the island kingdom and the United Arab Emirates also said it would send 500 police at the request of Bahrain's rulers after weeks of protests against the government and royal family.

Over 60 percent of Bahrainis are Shi'ites who complain of discrimination at the hands of the Sunni royal family. Calls for the overthrow of the monarchy have alarmed the Sunni minority, which fears that unrest could serve non-Arab Shi'ite power Iran.

Iran, which sits across the Gulf from Bahrain, sharply criticised the Saudi intervention.

"The presence of foreign forces and interference in Bahrain's internal affairs is unacceptable and will further complicate the issue," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said at his weekly news conference in Tehran.

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

In a sign that security in Bahrain could deteriorate, the U.S. State Department advised against all travel to the island due to a "breakdown in law and order."

Bahrain has been gripped by its worst unrest since the 1990s after protesters took to the streets last month, inspired by uprisings that toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.

Unlike those countries, where the mainly Sunni populations united against the regime, Bahrain is split along sectarian lines, raising the risk of a slide into civil conflict.

Sectarian clashes broke out in different parts of Bahrain overnight, with both Sunnis and Shi'ites trading accusations in newspapers and on local television that they had been attacked by gangs of youths.

Clashes using clubs, knives and rocks have become daily occurences, forcing Bahrain University and many schools to close in order to avoid further violence.

The intervention by Gulf Arab troops is highly sensitive in a region where tensions soared after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq overthrew a Sunni dictator and ushered in a Shi'ite-dominated government.

Accusations already abound of Iranian backing for Shi'ite activists in Bahrain -- charges they deny.

Thousands of demonstrators are still camped out at Manama's Pearl roundabout, the focal point of weeks of unrest.

Despite some reports that the protesters planned to reopen a main thoroughfare to Bahrain's financial district at dawn, metal barricades and piles of sand and rocks still blocked the road. At checkpoints near the roundabout, activists checked identities and waved cars through.

In a sign that the opposition and the royals may find an 11th-hour solution, the opposition groups said they had met the crown prince to discuss the mechanism for national dialogue.

Even if talks are successful however, the opposition is increasingly split and hardline groups may keep up protests.

Bahrain's largest Shi'ite Muslim party, Wefaq, wants a new government and a constitutional monarchy that vests the judicial, executive and legislative authority with the people.

A coalition of much smaller Shi'ite parties is calling for the overthrow of the monarchy -- demands that scare Sunnis who fear this would benefit Iran.

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Ahmed 9 years ago

If the interference of foreign forces is not acceptable, why Iran's goverenment uses Hezbollah militia/gurillas from Lebanon to quell Iranians' protests? And to guard supreme leader and his family? Isn't this interference?

Joe Bloggs 9 years ago

Iran should keep its nose out of the regional politics, it has no friends in the GCC.

It has its own major internal problems and should sort them out first. Nobody is interested in what they have to say until they have a legitimate government and improve their human rights.

Iranians here in North America are truly ashamed of their former homeland, preferring to be called Persian, not Iranian.

suman 9 years ago

i think you don't have proper informations or you don't follow news. Yes, hezbollah is funded by Iran but Iran Govt. doesn't use them to curb internal political movements as they have their own "Baseej" or Revolutionary Guards.

Mohammed 9 years ago

Iran should shut up and clean their home first before advising others. The uprising in the Arab world is directly or indirectly linked with Iran. Arab world should unite and directly deal with this snake before it is too late. It seems like it is a big Iranian conspiracy to keep the world's attention away from its own nuclear plans by creating these unrest in the Arab world in colloboration with their Jewish and Western friends to weaken the Islamic world. Special care should be taken of Western countries who will manipulate and use these circumstances to their advantage.

Yaron 9 years ago

Developed countries - and till a certain level Iran is - have an internal and extern policy.
A very small group of people in Iran is using a large group brainwashed, irrational thinkers to get what they want on both national and international level. In Iran their tools are Baseej, abroad, well just look at the TV. Unsatisfied people screaming for a change. We saw the same angre in Tehran back in 1979. I wonder if it brought them any good.

Paul Kulkin 9 years ago

My Visit to Bahrain.
I visited Bahrain last week. I see that majority of the population is against uprising. Bahrain is dependent on its tourism and financial industry. I got wonderful rate from hotel, as all of hotels were empty. Taxi drivers are sitting waiting for customers. Shops are deserted. People say that they have nothing to eat. People in Bahrain say if tourism and financial industry is gone what will we do of democracy, we have to go back to fish-n-eat time. This handful protestors are funded by Iran so they don't care about the country. They are paid daily rate by Iran as one of the insider told me.

Bahrain took years to build its reputation as Financial Hub, this handful of Iranian backed traitors have pushed Bahrain 50 years backed.

Dr. Lawless 9 years ago

I am an Iranian and I don't approve of clamping down the protestors in bahrain because the people show be allowed to have a say.
At the same time I don't believe the Iranian Goverment is in a position to comment on the situation there specially because they are doing the same thing in Iran 1000 times worse! The Iranian Government should first start respecting its own people and respect the fact that the Iranian people don't want them then talk about other Persian Gulf countries.

And to those who insult 'Iran', please, its the 'Iranian Government' you shoudl refer to not 'Iran'.

Lets hope for peace and happiness and stability for all countries in Persian Gulf area.

disturbed of dubai 9 years ago

The current Iranian government has always had a vested interest in undermining and overthrowing the governments of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, not to mention many other GCC states. In the late 80s and early 90s they called for the people (Shiite communities) to rise and overthrow the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a call that was taken up by many Shiite civilians in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The Iranians then stood by and watch their protégées being killed and jailed and villages rolled over by tanks in the Saudi repression that followed.
Iran has caused much of the unrest in this region and will continue to do so whilst they have the same autocratic and dictatorial leadership that they profess to despise in other Middle East countries.

His Excellency Dr Paul 9 years ago

If you need guns and foreign troops to hang on to power, are you a leader? Leadership comes from consent of the people.

Gaddafi blames Al Qaeda, the west and foreigners for his problems, but he's the one shipping in foreign mercenaries. People are blaming Iran for the trouble in Bahrain, but there a no Iranian troops in the country.... just a lot of angry Bahrainis on the streets.

AndyW 9 years ago

If Iran are so concerned let them invite all Bahraini Shi'ites to live in Iran, I would be interested to see how many took up the offer.

None of the uprisings witnessed over the last few months are for democracy, people want only a better life whether it be democratic or not (which I agree with), unfortunately Bahrain has turned in to a wholly sectarian agenda, one that will take months to reconcile, if indeed it ever is.