Saudi Arabia Sends Troops To Bahrain To Help Crush Protests

As Steven Taylor noted earlier today, Bahrain is faced today with a new round of protests. Perhaps the most surprising developing is the first case of cross-national intervention in response to the uprisings:

Saudi Arabia has moved decisively to bolster Bahrain’s embattled royal family, sending military forces across the causeway linking the two kingdoms after violent weekend pro-democracy protests by Shia demonstrators all but overwhelmed police.

Although the deployment on Monday was at Bahrain’s request and came under the guise of the Gulf Co-operation Council, whose other members also sent troops, it marked another stage in Saudi Arabia’s reluctant emergence as the key regional policeman, at a time when the Arab world faces unprecedented turmoil.

Confirming local media reports, Nabeel al-Hamer, a former Bahrain information minister, said the reinforcements were already in place. “Forces from the Gulf Co-operation Council have arrived in Bahrain to maintain order and security,” he said.

“GCC forces will arrive in Bahrain today to take part in maintaining law and order,” the Gulf Daily News reported. “Their mission will be limited to protecting vital facilities, such as oil, electricity and water installations, and financial and banking facilities.”

The deployment followed clashes in Bahrain on Sunday that injured dozens of people in what was one of the most violent demonstrations since troops killed seven protesters last month.

It’s likely that the Saudi’s are concerned that developments in Bahrain could influence the Sunni Shi’a population in the eastern part of the Kingdom, and are acting accordingly.


FILED UNDER: Democracy, Middle East, World Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Doug, I think you mean the Shi’a population.

  2. John Burgess says:

    @Dave: Agreed. I think Doug flipped the groups there, unless he means that the Sunnis in the EP are going to go all Medieval on the Shi’a (or, more accurately, ‘all 1920s’).

    I do question The Guardian‘s use of ‘under the guise’. ‘Guise’ suggests falsity and I don’t think there’s anything false about GCC concern or desire to intervene. I wrote at Crossroads Arabia:

    Bahrain Heats Up: GCC Steps In

  3. Gentlemen,

    You are, of course,correct and I’ve made the correction. This is what I get for writing before the caffeine has kicked in

  4. John Burgess says:

    I think it dangerous to even attempt to tie shoelaces before the caffeine kicks in. After a quart of coffee, I’m competent to put on a pair of loafers…

  5. Mithras says:

    More prosaically, the Saudis have a vested interest in keeping Bahrain the way it is because it’s legal to drink there and the two countries are connected by a causeway. The Saudi elite don’t want to lose their playground.

  6. John Burgess says:

    Mithras has also got that right, though other Saudis would like to see the King Fahd Causeway destroyed because it makes sin so easy to get at. Weekends in Manama can sometimes take on the air of NOLA’s Mardi Gras, with obnoxious outsiders, drunk on their butts, looking for booty and boobies.

  7. John Burgess says:

    Oh… lest I be too negative, hundreds of Saudis also go to Bahrain to watch a film in a cinema and, for the women, to keep up their driving skills.