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Bahrain Declares State Of Emergency As Saudis, Emirates Intervene

Benjamin Gottlieb |
March 15, 2011 | 12:43 p.m. PDT

Senior News Editor

Protesters in Bahrain march against the nation's monarchy (Creative Commons).
Protesters in Bahrain march against the nation's monarchy (Creative Commons).
The king of Bahrain declared a three-month state of emergency Tuesday, in response to a fresh wave of demonstrations that have claimed the lives of three Bahraini citizens and injured hundreds more.

In a televised statement, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa "authorized the commander of Bahrain's defense forces to take all necessary measures to protect the safety of the country and its citizens," he said on Tuesday.

The declaration came a day after more than 1,000 Saudi troops and 500 police officers from the United Arab Emirates were dispatched to Bahrain via request from the king. Flying under the banner of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the troops intervened after weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations turned larger and more violent in the last few days.

Although Al-Khalifa utilized the collective security agreement of the six-nation GCC, it remains unclear whether other members of the council - Kuwait, Oman and Qatar - will contribute forces.

The reinvigorated Bahraini protesters have split recently, as many are now calling for the royal family to step down while others are simply seeking governmental reform.

In the Bahraini capital city of Manama, the financial district was deserted Tuesday, as many stores closed and major highways blocked by police with barricades. As a result, business activity in Manama, a regional banking hub, has stopped completely.

Bahrain’s Shia majority has been calling for democratic reform since protests broke out on February 17.  They claim to be under-represented in the Bahraini government and barred from the same economic opportunities bestowed to Sunnis.

According to The Telegraph, Shia groups also claim the monarchy has been resettling Iraqi and Jordanian Sunni’s to alter the demographic balance in Bahrain.    

The Iranian government condemned the intervention on Tuesday, calling the presence of GCC troops in Bahrain "unacceptable" and alleging that their presence would make the situation "more complicated." Iranian officials also blasted the U.S., claiming that they pressured the Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia to intervene on behalf of Bahrain's Sunni rulers, according to VOANews.com.

Oil-rich Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and designated a major non-NATO ally by the U.S.


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