Manama: Forces from
the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) arrived in Bahrain Monday to
help authorities restore order after violent clashes erupted
between protesters and security forces over the weekend.The GCC
forces are expected to protect strategic facilities, such as oil,
electricity and water installations, as also financial and banking
facilities, Xinhua quoted Al-Arabiya TV as reporting.
The arrival of GCC forces follows a clash Sunday between the
Bahraini police and a number of Shiite protesters in one of the
most violent confrontations since troops killed seven protesters
The protesters Monday continued with their demand for the
resignation of the entire cabinet, blocking the main roads to the
Financial Harbor business complex in Manama.
Hundreds of protesters also continue to hold a sit-in at Pearl
Square in Manama, the focal point of the demonstrations that
started Feb 14.
The six-member regional bloc of the GCC comprises Bahrain, Saudi
Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman.
Meanwhile, the US has strongly condemned the violence in Bahrain,
as also in Yemen, urging the two governments to show restraint.
White House spokesman Jay Carney, in a statement said: "The United
States strongly condemns the violence that has taken place in
Yemen and Bahrain today. We urge the governments of these
countries to show restraint and to respect the universal rights of
He also urged the Bahraini government to pursue "a peaceful and
meaningful dialogue" with the opposition rather than "resorting to
the use of force".
"In particular, we urge our GCC 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," Xinhua quoted
the spokesman as adding.
In London, the British Foreign Office said it had reports that the
Saudi National Guard was poised to enter Bahrain, prompting it to
warn all British tourists in Bahrain to remain indoors, DPA
According to the Bahrain News Agency, a number of parliamentarians
called on Bahrain's king Monday to impose martial law in the wake
of the protests in the country.
The parliamentary bloc asked for three months of martial law,
which would include an army presence on the streets and a curfew.
There are growing fears in Bahrain that anti-government protests
for constitutional reforms and greater rights has shifted into a
sectarian conflict, with the country's Shiite majority clashing
with the ruling Sunni minority.
There are also concerns among neighbouring countries, such as
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which both have small, but significant
Shiite populations, that Shiite-led Iran is meddling in the
affairs of Gulf countries.
GCC Secretary General Abdulrahman bin Hamad al-Atiya said the
council rejected any foreign interference in the Gulf region's
internal affairs, adding that attempts to sow discord among
citizens represents a dangerous encroachment on security and