by editor | 15th March 2011 1:24 pm
King announces emergency powers for three months following weeks of unrest on the island, state television says
The emergency order came a day after a Saudi-led force entered Bahrain to help prop up the government [Reuters]
The king of Bahrain has declared a state of emergency for three months on the island following weeks of anti-government protests, state television said.
An order by the king “authorised the commander of Bahrain’s defence forces to take all necessary measures to protect the safety of the country and its citizens,” a statement read out on television on Tuesday said.
The development comes a day after a Saudi-led military forces arrived to help prop up the government, which is facing pressure from the Shia majority to implement reforms.
Hundreds of Saudi-led troops entered Bahrain on Monday to help protect government facilities there amid escalating the protests against the government.
Bahrain television broadcast images of troops in armoured cars entering the Gulf state via the 26km causeway that connects the kingdom to Saudi Arabia.
Request for assistance
The arrival of the troops followed a request to members of the Gulf Co-Operation Council (GCC) from Bahrain.
The United Arab Emirates also sent about 500 police to Bahrain, according to Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Emirati foreign minister. Qatar, meanwhile, did not rule out the possibility of its troops joining the force.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, the Qatari prime minister and foreign minister, told Al Jazeera: “There are common responsibilities and obligations within the GCC countries.
“The arrival of Saudi and UAE troops in Bahrain is in line with a GCC defence agreement that calls for all members to oblige when needed and to fully co-operate.
“We are committed to adhering to the GCC agreement. At the moment we have peacekeeping troops. We don’t have a full force there, but this is up for discussion.”
The US, which counts both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia among its allies, has called for restraint, but has refrained from saying whether it supports the move to deploy troops.
“We urge our GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) partners to show restraint and respect the rights of the people of Bahrain, and to act in a way that supports dialogue instead of undermining it,” Tommy Vietor, the White House spokesman, said on Monday.
Americans are being advised to avoid travelling to the island, which is home to US warships that patrol the Gulf.
Iran, meanwhile, has warned against “foreign interferences”.
“The peaceful demonstrations in Bahrain are among the domestic issues of this country, and creating an atmosphere of fear and using other countries’ military forces to oppress these demands is not the solution,” Hossein Amir Abdollahian, an official from the Iranian foriegn ministry, was reported by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency as saying.
Provocation to protesters
Abdel al-Mowada, the deputy chairman of Bahrain’s parliament, told Al Jazeera that it was not clear how the Saudi force would be deployed but denied the troops would become a provocation to protesters.
“It is not a lack of security forces in Bahrain, it is a showing of solidarity among the GCC,” he told Al Jazeera.
“I don’t know if they are going to be in the streets or save certain areas … [but protesters] blocking the roads are no good for anyone, we should talk.
“The government is willing to get together and make the changes needed, but when the situation is like this, you cannot talk.”
The Saudi troops arrived less than 24 hours after Bahraini police clashed with demonstrators in one of the most violent confrontations since troops killed seven protesters last month.
Opposition groups, including Wefaq, the country’s largest Shia movement, have spoken out against the use of foreign troops.
“We consider the entry of any soldier or military machinery into the Kingdom of Bahrain’s air, sea or land territories a blatant occupation,” Wefaq said in a statement.
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