Gulf troops to stay in Bahrain to protect against 'Iran threat'

Bloomberg: Troops from Persian Gulf nations will remain in Bahrain to protect the Sunni-monarchy against an Iranian threat and “saboteurs and thugs,” the Bahrain News Agency said, citing the commander of the Bahrain Defense Force.

Bloomberg

By Glen Carey

Troops from Persian Gulf nations will remain in Bahrain to protect the Sunni-monarchy against an Iranian threat and “saboteurs and thugs,” the Bahrain News Agency said, citing the commander of the Bahrain Defense Force.

The Saudi-led Gulf forces will stay in “anticipation of any foreign threat,” the official news service said, citing Commander-in-Chief Marshal Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa. Bahrain’s army will return to its barracks and “always be on alert to fend off any threats,” the news service said.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa issued a royal decree on May 8 declaring an end to the nationwide state of emergency on June 1. The government declared martial law in March as it sought to quell mainly Shiite demonstrations calling for more democracy and civil rights after popular uprisings ousted rulers in Egypt and Tunisia earlier this year.

Shiites make up about 70 percent of the Bahraini population of less than 1 million and many retain cultural and family ties with Iran as well as with Muslims of the same sect in Saudi Arabia. During the protests, Shiites also called for an end to discrimination over jobs and housing.

Crude oil prices have climbed 21 percent since unrest started in Bahrain on Feb. 14. Crude for June delivery declined as much as $1.62, or 1.6 percent, to $102.26 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $102.27 at 1:22 p.m. London time.

Detentions, Torture

Since the introduction of the emergency law, security forces have arrested activists and doctors, demolished mosques and closed an opposition newspaper. Al-Wefaq, the main Shiite opposition group, has accused the government of bulldozing 30 mosques, according to an e-mailed statement on April 24.

Human Rights Watch said it documented “the routine use of torture” by Bahraini security officials during interrogations in political and security-related cases, according to a statement yesterday on its website. “Some detainees have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated following arrest and at least four people have died in suspicious circumstances,” Amnesty International said on May 4.

Physicians for Human Rights said on April 22 that there was “hard evidence of systematic and coordinated attacks against medical personnel because of their efforts to provide unbiased care for wounded protesters.” Bahrain military prosecutors said May 3 that they had charged 47 medical staff with trying to overthrow the regime.

Manama Cleared

Bahrain forces “successfully cleared Manama of saboteurs and thugs,” Marshal Sheikh Khalifa was cited saying by the news service today. Young people “were given pills, which affected their minds and made them do unusual things,” he said.

More than 800 people have been detained and more than 25 are missing, according to the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights. Bahrain’s Lower National Safety Court sentenced four demonstrators to death for the murder of two police officers, the state-run Bahrain News Agency reported April 28.

“To those who did not get the message, if you return we will come back,” Marshal Sheikh Khalifa said. There will be no royal pardon issued for “criminal acts” committed during the demonstrations, the news service said.

The government started a trial of 21 opposition leaders and political activists who participated in the protests. It has accused them of “terrorist attempts to topple the regime forcibly,” the state-owned news service said on May 8.