The movement of Saudi troops—likely military police from the Saudi Arabian National Guard—and a UAE police force into Bahrain gets front page coverage in the Saudi media. The stories point to the fact that this intervention is a) at the invitation of the Bahraini government, b) under the aegis of the Peninsula Shield mutual security program, and c) not there to put down insurrection, but to protect Bahrain’s infrastructure. Other GCC members are said to be sending their own contingents to Bahrain, but no specifics are given.

All of these points are true, but they also elide the root of the issue: Iran. To the Saudis, and other GCC members to varying degrees, Iran represents a near-existential threat. Centuries of enmity between Arabs and Persians, between Sunnis and Shi’as, continue to color both formal relations and popular perceptions. Iran’s history of meddling in the Gulf—which it sees as a natural part of its own sphere of influence, of course—both angers and frightens the Arab states. The size of Iran’s military and its willingness to wastefully throw that military into action (See: Iran-Iraq War) does nothing to lessen the threat. The bottom line is still that Saudi Arabia will not tolerate Bahrain’s becoming a satellite of Iran, just at the other end of a 25km causeway from its own oil facilities.

It is now being reported that a Saudi soldier has been shot and killed by a protester. This is a serious escalation in the situation on the ground. It will do nothing to encourage gentle behavior by the Saudi forces there who presumptively already have a negative view of the Shi’a.

Kingdom takes lead to help Bahrain

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states started sending security forces on Monday to Bahrain in response to Manama’s call for military help to quell anti-government protests that have shaken the country. Bahraini opposition groups including the largest party Al-Wefaq denounced the move to invite GCC forces. But the United States, while urging Bahrain to exercise restraint, said it does not consider the entry into Bahrain of GCC security forces an invasion.

MANAMA/ALKHOBAR: Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states responded positively on Monday to Bahrain’s call for military help to quell anti-government protests that have shaken the country.

“The Saudi Cabinet has confirmed that it has answered a request by Bahrain for support,” said a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.


No interference in internal affairs, says King
Saudi Gazette/Saudi Press Agency (SPA)

RIYADH: King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, reiterated Monday the Kingdom’s “absolute rejection of any interference in its internal affairs”.

Chairing the weekly Cabinet meeting Monday, King Abdullah said the Kingdom’s foreign relations were based on “the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in domestic affairs”, with rules founded on “the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah to safeguard the security, stability and peace of Saudi society from sedition and divisions”.

King Abdullah thanked Almighty Allah for “the blessings of security and stability and the strong relations between the Kingdom’s people and their leadership”.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques cited the statement from the 118th session of the GCC Ministerial Council in reaffirming the “total rejection of GCC states of any foreign attempt to interfere in their affairs, and their determination to deal firmly with any incitement to factional sympathies, promotion of divisions between the people of member states, and threats to security”.


Peninsula Shield Forces enter Bahrain to maintain order
Asharq Alawsat

London/Manama, Asharq Al-Awsat- Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) security forces entered Bahrain yesterday at the request of Manama to help protect government facilities from the threat of unrest, after weeks of protests in the Gulf kingdom.

The Saudi government said it had responded to a call for help from its neighbor as Saudi-led forces from the Gulf countries’ joint Peninsula Shield Force crossed the causeway into Bahrain.

Once again, the Middle East demonstrates its problem with missed opportunities. Had Bahrain not treated its majority Shi’ite population less well than its Sunni minority, there would be no cause for unrest. The same applies to Saudi Arabia. Had the governments bothered to distinguish the different Shi’ite sects, rather than lumping them into one entity, they might have found willing partners. Had they not continued to demonize Shi’ism itself, they would not be facing sectarian as well as political issues today. Had they not put off reforming their political and social systems, all in the name of ‘traditional values’, they would not be faced with demands for those reforms to be made now, with no further delay. Had they seen the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 as a warning sign rather than an immediate threat, those governments might have started making changes 20 years ago instead of being confronted with angry mobs.

March:15:2011 - 08:22 | Comments & Trackbacks (8) | Permalink
8 Responses to “Peninsula Shield in Bahrain”
  1. 1
    Lola Said:
    March:16:2011 - 01:12

  2. 2
    Lola Said:
    March:16:2011 - 01:51

  3. 3
    Lola Said:
    March:16:2011 - 01:57

  4. 4
    hashimilion Said:
    March:16:2011 - 07:29 

    the problem with these regimes is that they’re too old and outdated. there were alot of reports yesterday on clashes between Bahraini protestors and saudi forces, which resulted in the death of two soldiers. You can’t fool the world, especially when you have images and videos coming out of youtube, facebook and twitter.

  5. 5
    John Burgess Said:
    March:16:2011 - 08:23 

    @hashimilion: That may indeed be the problem. The question is how to fix it. I see the various peoples and states trying to find answers and the search is not pretty.

    I’m unable to find any reliable source saying that Saudi forces have been killed. What I see says it was two Bahraini soldier who died when they were hit by a car and one source claiming they were shot. Saudi Gazette carries a story that refutes the allegation.

  6. 6
    Majed Said:
    March:17:2011 - 02:43 

    I remember peninsula shield was still there, when Mr.Saddam Husain Mercy of Allah be upon him invaded kuwait, what peninsula shield did then !!! Iraq then was in its weakest, while Iran now is at the peak of its power, yet they are challenging its front forces and spearhead in the area (the Shia Minorities).

    Saddan was given green light by USA through its Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie to fire kuwait at will and that they would interfere, when he did, they took it as pretext to demonize him attack him.

    I wonder, Who gave green light to GCC countries(Peninsula shild) to send forces to Bahrain !!! may be this time Sheikh Obama himself did it,but, why? other than speculations we can only say this why after we see it unfold, only naieve is who think GCC would do anything without uncle Sam assent.

  7. 7
    Majed Said:
    March:17:2011 - 02:47 

    correction #6

    would interfere should read (would not interfere)


  8. 8
    John Burgess Said:
    March:17:2011 - 07:06 

    @Majed: A couple of points. First, Amb. Glaspie did not ‘give a green light’ to Saddam. That is what Saddam said; it’s not what Glaspie said. Because her record of the conversation was classified as ‘Secret’, State Dept. refused to release it to the public. Various people leaked edited forms of the cable for their own reasons, but in January, 2011, WikiLeaks published the full cable. [Cable] Here is the reaction of Patrick Cockburn–a writer who is certainly not a friend of US foreign policy. Neither the US government, nor its ambassador April Glaspie, gave a ‘green light’ to Saddam Hussein.

    Second, Peninsula Shield forces did not prevent Saddam’s sweep through Kuwait; that’s perfectly true. But the reason was that no one expected Saddam to attack a sisterly Arab state. That sort of aggression had never taken place before (though Egypt and the KSA had been involved in a proxy war in Yemen in the 1960s). If you recall, the entire Arab world (not to mention the rest of the world) was stunned by Saddam’s aggression. Once they got over the shock, though, Peninsula Shield forces did play an active role in Operation Desert Storm. For instance, Saudi and Qatari forces were successful in driving Iraqi forces out of the KSA in the Battle of Khafji.

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