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FP: Saudi Arabia Strikes Back

Author: Jean-Francois Seznec
March 14, 2011

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Jean-Francois Seznec analyzes the implications behind the Saudi Arabia's intervention in Bahrain.

One thousand "lightly armed" Saudi troops and an unspecified number of troops from the United Arab Emirates entered Bahrain on the morning of March 14, in a bid to end the country's monthlong political crisis. They are reportedly heading for the town of Riffa, the stronghold of the ruling Khalifa family. The troops' task, apparently, is to protect the oil installations and basic infrastructure from the demonstrators.

The Arab intervention marks a dramatic escalation of Bahrain's political crisis, which has pitted the country's disgruntled Shiite majority against the Sunni ruling family -- and has also been exacerbated by Quarrels between hard-liners and liberals within the Khalifa clan. The clashes between protesters and government forces worsened over the weekend, when the security services beat back demonstrators trying to block the highway to the capital of Manama's Financial Harbor. The protesters' disruption of the harbor, which was reportedly purchased by the conservative Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa for one dinar, was an important symbolic gesture by the opposition.

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