The protests across the tiny island nation of Bahrain continue to grow on Monday but face the prospect of a particularly brutal crackdown amid news that over 1,000 mostly Saudi Arabian troops have been dispatched across the bridge to help the regime end the protests.
Bahrain’s protest movement is largely a function of its majority Shi’ites complaining about discrimination by the Sunni royal family. The opposition condemned the invasion as an “undeclared war” and vowed to resist the occupation.
The Bahrain government has yet to confirm the invasion, but Saudi state media has and insists that the force is part of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The United Arab Emirates Foreign Ministry also confirmed that their forces were playing something of a role. The other member nations, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar, have yet to comment.
The Bahrain protests have mostly been peaceful, though the regime has cracked down on them violently on a few occasions over the course of the past several weeks. A group of pro-regime MPs (which are all that is left, as every single opposition MP resigned weeks ago) is calling on the king to declare martial law to crush the dissent.
The move comes just days after Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited Bahrain, ostensibly to preach reform as a solution instead of violent crackdowns (which have failed miserably across the region). Either Gates’ message was not what they said it was, or he was unsuccessful in his delivery. The Obama Administration has since expressed ambivalence about the move, however, saying they don’t consider it technically an “invasion.”