Saudi sends troops, Bahrain Shi’ites call it “war”

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia sent troops into Bahrain on Monday to help calm weeks of protests by the Shi’ite Muslim majority, a move opponents of the Sunni ruling family on the island called a declaration of war.

Analysts saw the troop movement into Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, as a mark of concern in Saudi Arabia that concessions by the country’s monarchy could inspire the conservative Sunni-ruled kingdom’s own Shi’ite minority.

About 1,000 Saudi soldiers entered Bahrain to protect government facilities, a Saudi official source said, a day after mainly Shi’ite protesters overran police and blocked roads.

“They are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) force that would guard the government installations,” the source said, referring to the six-member bloc that coordinates military and economic policy in the world’s top oil-exporting region.

Bahrain said on Monday it had asked the Gulf troops for support in line with a GCC defense pact. The United Arab Emirates has said it would also send 500 police to Bahrain.

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