As Operation Odyssey Dawn seeks to destroy Gadaffi’s defence capabilities and weaken his power to attack his pro democracy opponents in Bahrain there is Operation Save King Khalifa. Saudi Arabia has already sent about a thousand troops and the United Arab Emirates also have sent some. Now Kuwait is joining the chorus as part of the Gulf Cooperation Council. While Operation Odyssey Dawn seeks to protect pro-democracy rebels Operation Save the King is meant to crack won on pro-democracy rebels. There is no sign that the U.S. Britain, France or any of those other great champions of the UN responsibility to protect are going to intervene. Even the headquarters of the fifth fleet in Bahrain where the U.S. military occupeis about twenty per cent or so of the island is quite serene and untroubled by events. Too bad for Gadaffi he is not royalty and has no friends in high places.
A Kuwaiti naval vessel arrived in Bahrain with a number of ground forces after there have been violent clashes between protesters and security forces. Of course there is no responsibility to protect civilians involved here except perhaps for the royal family.
The Kuwaiti ambassador to Bahrain said that Kuwait would help calm the situation. Kuwait joins the many Saudis and the UAE troops in this task. Calming the situation means making it so dangerous to protest that few will risk the danger. The leader of one of the main opposiition parties has indeed warned his supporters not to protest because of the danger of injury or death.
The opposition for its part has called the intervention of foreign troops as an occupation even though the king requested them. Bahraini officials often blame Iran for the conflict. The recent intervention of Saudi troops will probably exacerbate the sectarian aspects of the conflict.
While about 70 per cent of Bahrainis are Shiites the government is run almosst entirley by Sunnis. However the protest has involved Sunnis as well asking for democratic reforms. While there is no doubt Iran supports the protests–unlike protest in Iran itself– there seems little doubt that the protests arose because of legitimate grievances.
Leaders under pressure from protests inevitably blame foreign interference or anything but their own shortcomings. Gadaffi has been perhaps most bizzare and imaginative in this regard, blaming protests on Al Qaeda and kids on hallucinogenic drugs among other insidious forces he has to contend with. However, the Bahraini king has a bit simpler blame explanation and his statement is a bit more subtle.Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, declared that his government had thwarted a long-standing “foreign plot”. Iran is the understood source of this long standing plot. Of course the plot was meant to ensure that his subjects had certain democratic rights they do not have now.