Bahrain's foreign minister says troops from neighboring Persian Gulf countries will stay in his island nation until its rulers believe that threats from Iran have eased.
Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said the Gulf force is needed to
counter what he called a "sustained campaign'' by Iran in Bahrain.
Bahrain's Sunni monarchy last month invited 1,500 troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help battle a Shi'ite uprising.
Sunni Gulf leaders, including Saudi Arabia, believe unrest in Bahrain clears the way for greater influence by Shi'ite powerhouse Iran.
Report by Democracy Now
On 8th Day of Hunger Strike, Bahraini Activist Zainab Alkhawaja Urges U.S. to Press for Family's Release
As the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters continues in the Gulf state of Bahrain, we speak with Zainab Alkhawaja, whose father, husband and brother-in-law were detained last Saturday following a late night raid at their home.
FARAZ SANEI (Human Rights Watch Bahrain and Iran researcher, who just returned after six weeks in Bahrain): Absolutely. The Saudis-you know, there's so much talk about the Iranians being involved in what's happening in Bahrain. Everyone is fearful of, you know, calling out the Bahraini government for what's actually happening. But what are the troops that are actually on the ground in Bahrain? GCC troops, it's Saudi troops, it's UAE troops, that are on the ground in Bahrain, not Iranian troops. And they are playing a key role in what is going on there, and yet we again see absolutely no public statement against the Saudi government. Now there's a $60 billion arms agreement, essentially, that we believe is going to be agreed to in the next several weeks, if not several months, between the U.S. and the Saudis. And all of this is going on in Bahrain. It's absolutely unbelievable.
Bahrain's Shi'ite majority has been staging demonstrations since February,
demanding more freedom and equal rights.
Bahraini officials say the protests are backed by Iran. Tehran has denounced the deployment of a Saudi-led force to help prop up Bahrain's monarchy and condemned the crackdown.
Iran on Friday demanded that the United Nations Security Council protect opposition activists in Bahrain.
In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi asked for "a serious and immediate action by the Security Council over suppressing people's demands in Bahrain using military force".
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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