Bahrain declares martial law as Saudi troops clash with Shia protesters

The King of Bahrain has declared martial law in the Gulf state after allowing 1000 troops from Saudi Arabia into the country to quell an uprising of Shia demonstrators.

Violent demonstrations in tiny Shia-majority country, ruled by a US-backed Sunni-elite, yesterday saw four shot dead, including two protesters, one Bahrani policemen, and a Saudi soldier.

A further six protesters were declared dead after troops overran the demonstrators camp this morning. Observers also observed an armoured personal carrier on the scene with the flag of the UAE.

A doctor spoken to by the UK’s Guardian newspaper said that Saudi troops were preventing staff from leaving the hospital where he worked.

“They are shooting at us, they are shooting,” he said. “Get help, get the international community to help.”

Media reported protesters outside the hospital as chanting “with our blood and our souls we will fight the mercenaries.”

Bahrain’s opposition Shia Wefaq party yesterday issued a statement condemning the arrival of Saudi troops as an assault on the country’s sovereignty.

“We consider the entry of Saudi Arabia or other Gulf forces into the Kingdom of Bahrain’s air, sea or land territories a blatant occupation,” the party said.

Iran, a majority Shia country, waded into the burgeoning conflict when foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi asked Bahrain not to harm the Shia demonstrators. In response, Bahrain withdrew its ambassador from Tehran in protest.

An Iranian MP, Kazem Jalali, described the Saudi interference as a “criminal” attempt by the US and Saudi Arabia to repress peaceful anti-government protests, pointing to the recent visit of US Defense Secretary Robert Gates to he gulf nation.

There were further signs that the escalating crisis in the 200 year-old monarchy could reignite an ongoing Sunni-Shia feud in the region, after the militant Shia Hezbollah group in Lebanon said that military action against demonstrations would disrupt Bahrain’s already fragile society – 70 percent of the population are Shia, but are largely underrepresented in senior government and political positions.

“Military intervention and the use of violence against a peaceful and popular movement will only complicate matters and eliminate chances of finding a solution,” Hezbollah said.

The UK embassy in the Bahraini capital of Manama closed its doors, while the US – which has substantial military assets in the kingdom, including the US Fifth fleet – ruled out military action.

The UK has closed its embassy in Manama, while the EU and the US have said there is “no military solution” to the crisis. The US maintains its Fifth Fleet in Manama’s port and has significant intelligence interests in the kingdom.

The Formula One grand prix, due to be held in Bahrain this year, has been postponed.


8 thoughts on “Bahrain declares martial law as Saudi troops clash with Shia protesters”

  1. Urgent message to the democratic free world There is a genocide of the Bahraini people being committed right now at their villages and homes. The Bahraini army and mercenaries along with the invading GCC forces are killing unarmed civilians everywhere. the international community ...must stop this ethnic cleansing of the shiite Bahrainis. We were asking for freedom and democracy and we got bullets and blood. Please Please Please Please stop this genocide. armies from 3 countries are shooting live ammunition at unarmed civilians. Hospitals are running out of medical supplies, Doctors and ambulances are being attacked. Where is the world from all of this … Help us and shed some light on whats going on in Bahrain. this is inhuman. this is not a clash between protesters and government. it's a forceful attack on civilians in their homes.

  2. Sadly, if Iran sends troops, than the western backed corrupt Saudi monarchy will use the whole sunni-shia issue to create a war which will have Muslims kill each other. Thats what US did when they supported Saddam in his rule against a majority Shia population in Iraq. Sadder fact is that Saudi people are still too scared of their oppressive rulers and some of them have played into this sectarian rift. If we looked at the Map of the region and much of the world during the Ottoman Empire, all sects lived without borders. But the West used Arab nationalists to fight the Islamic Khalifah. Arab pride has done enough damage to Islam. There would be no success until this pride is left aside and until western backed dictators are toppled only for the sake of Allah (swt).

  3. IN Bahrain you have the ethnic Bahraini people (the gulf Arabs) who adhere to the shia Islamic sect. Bahrain was some time back invaded by a tribe from north Arabia (different ethic group from Bahrani) who adhere to the sunni Hambali or gadiri or whatever sect it, they being a minority rule the natives under a heavy repressive policy whereby only sunni Muslims would be eligible for government post military etc.. Even sunni Muslim immigrants from Pakistan and elsewhere from Arabia where welcome to turn the minority status thus they were given better land greater status jobs. So finally the whole nation has Imploded no one is going to go easy now.

    Before the saudi troops the Bahraini gov was using ex Pakistani military as mercenaries.

    And then there is another group a minority as well called the Ajami by everyone else pretty obviously because they are not Arabs. They were ethnic Persians that settled some time ago, also of shia sect the only people allied with the Bahrani Arabs.

  4. @Muad MZ on Wed, 16th Mar 2011 7:12 PM

    "muslims killing each other"

    That is not a new trait. That has been the backbone of our existence, the reason why we are so backward.

    And, those that do,does not acknowledge the other is a true muslim.

    What a joke we are.

  5. Muad MZ. Nationalism is divided between the Iranians, the Turkish, and the Arabs. Don't just blame it on the Arabs.

    And Western backed dictators are the only reason a war hasn't broken out in the region. Mubarak may have been a dictator at home, but as for honoring Sadats peace treaty, job well done I say.

    Iran would probably have sent in troops to defend Bahrain if the Arab people had it their way, and kicked out American military bases. Which, ultimately are the only thing deterring the Iranians from being too agressive.

    In the meanwhile the Saudis continue to fund Sunni terrorists, and the Iranians continue to fund shi'ite terrorists, and use them as pawns in a macabre game of theological chess.

    The bottom line is, fellow Muslims kill each other, and blame all their woes on the Zionist joos, and burn American flags as a way to pass time.

  6. And the obsolete Khalifa was gotten rid of by Ataturk, not the Americans.

    As for being borderless, the Ottomans had to contend with the shi'ite Qajar dynasty for over 125 years.

    I would argue that the Shia sect itself was a byproduct of Persian nationalism, that only used theological differences as an excuse, by the vestigial Safavid patriots who did not appreciate their land being conquered by Khalifa Umar. It was a persian that assasinated him after all.

  7. @AbulloAmuwika

    Very well put. A lot of muslims don't want to face the fact that they themselves are to be blamed for the intolerance. Its just that the West takes advantage of an existing situation.
    Surely, one cannot blame the west for the inter-sect fights that muslims have.


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