Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states are discussing the possibility of withdrawing troops from Bahrain although no timeline has been decided so far, said a GCC official in Riyadh on Tuesday.
“The withdrawal, possibly to begin next week, will be done in consultation with the Gulf countries, mainly with Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” said the official on condition of anonymity.
The official, who has intimate knowledge of the affairs of Gulf states, was reacting to reports that the Kingdom will withdraw most of its security forces from Bahrain starting on Monday after considering the current situation in the country.
The Saudi troops, part of the GCC Peninsula Shield, will be withdrawn starting on Monday, said a Reuters report posted online late Tuesday. The report said that all GCC troops would not leave at once.
On the other hand, a Saudi official was quoted by AFP as saying that the Gulf troops are to be redeployed. All troops will not be withdrawn because the danger is not yet over in Bahrain, said the AFP report.
About 1,000 Saudi soldiers entered Bahrain to protect government facilities early this year. Another member state, the UAE, backed Bahrain’s efforts to quell the violence in mid-March and sent some 500 police officers to the country, while Kuwait sent a small contingent of naval forces.
Referring to the common objective of the Gulf states that have signed an agreement to safeguard security and stability across the GCC region in a collective manner, the GCC official said that a process of national dialogue will begin in Bahrain on Saturday in a renewed bid to restore peace in the tiny Kingdom.
He said that normalcy in Bahrain was badly needed for the sake of revitalizing the economy including trade and tourism.
The state of emergency imposed by Bahraini rulers was lifted on June 1. Iran has been involving itself in the affairs of Bahrain and the GCC that eventually led to strained relations between Tehran and the Gulf bloc in recent months.
The troops sent by the Kingdom and the UAE within the framework of the common security program and the deployment of Peninsula Shield was approved by all Gulf states at that time. The Arab League also approved sending the troops into Bahrain.