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ME Simmering with Anti-Saudi Sentiment

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TEHRAN, March 18 (ICANA) – Thousands have turned out in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia to protest the Saudi-led invasion of Bahrain and the brutal crackdown of anti-regime protesters there.
Friday, March 18, 2011 6:54:03 PM
ME Simmering with Anti-Saudi Sentiment

On March 14, Bahrain's fellow members of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar -- deployed hundreds of military forces to the Persian Gulf kingdom at Manama's request to quell protests against the Sunni-led regime.


On Thursday, hundreds of Iranian people held a rally outside the Bahraini Embassy in Tehran to condemn Saudi Arabia and the UAE's invasion of the Shia-majority Arab state.

The Iranian protesters carried placards with slogans against the military intervention and condemned the violent crackdown on anti-government protesters that seek a constitutional monarchy as well as political reforms in Bahrain.

The Iranian protesters, mainly students, also held a similar gathering in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran.

Iranians have also announced major protest rallies against the brutal suppression of Bahrani protesters after Friday prayers across the country.

Since mid-February, thousands of anti-government protesters in Bahrain have poured into the streets, calling for an end to more than 200-year rule of the Sunni Al Khalifa dynasty that has drawn anti-discrimination protests from the country's 98-percent Shia population.


On Thursday, hundreds of Iraqis poured into the streets in the holy city of Karbala to rally against the deployment of troops from Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies to Bahrain.

The protesters marched towards the holy shrine of third Shia Imam, Imam Hussein (PBUH). They were carrying Bahraini flags, chanting slogans against Riyadh and the Al Khalifa regime in Bahrain.

On Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki slammed the invasion of Bahrain by its Sunni Arab neighbors. Supporters of influential Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr also staged street rallies in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra in support of Bahraini protesters.

"We strongly condemn the Bahrain government's actions against its people, and the foreign interference against the protesters. We call for the immediate departure of the foreign troops and respect for the Bahraini people's demand for a democratic constitutional state," the ruling Iraqi National Alliance said in a statement on Wednesday.

In a parliamentary session on Thursday, Iraqi Sunni lawmakers joined Shias to urge the Bahraini government to meet the demands of protesters and warned Arab countries against meddling in Bahrain's internal affairs.

Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayadh also said the use of force against peaceful protesters in any country was doomed to failure, like what happened in Egypt. He added that the Saudi military intervention would only complicate the situation in Bahrain.

Other Middle East nations

In Turkey, human rights activists protested outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Ankara against the deployment of Saudi forces into Bahrain.


Additionally, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed serious concern over events in Bahrain on Tuesday, saying, "We do not want another Karbala in the region. Our Shia brothers remember clearly what happened in Karbala, so do we."

Erdogan was referring to a major seventh century event in which the third apostle of Shia Muslims and the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Imam Hussein (PBUH) was brutaly martyred alongside 72 of his companions for refusing to submit to the rule of a despotic caliph. The event marks a major cause for mourning among the Muslims around the world, who commemorate the tragedy every year.

"The recent developments in Bahrain might lead to similar consequences. We are deeply saddened by such developments and we are in touch with all sides to foil such an incident," The Turkish premier added.

Syria has also slammed the Saudi invasion of Bahrain and sent Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem to Tehran for consultations over the situation in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

Elsewhere, thousands of Lebanese protesters gathered on Wednesday outside the United Nations offices in central Beirut in a show of solidarity with anti-government protesters in Bahrain.

Protesters condemned Saudi Arabia's military interference in the Persian Gulf country and called for an end to the Bahraini regime's brutal crackdown of its own people with the help of Saudi and UAE forces.

Protests in condemnation of the Riyadh-led military deployments to Bahrain have spread to the Saudi cities of Sbehat and Qatif, where security forces have been put on high alert.

At least a dozen people have been killed and hundreds have been wounded in weeks of anti-government protests in Bahrain, which have met with rubber bullets, live rounds, tear gas and baton-wielding thugs and riot police.

On Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed concerns over the deployment of foreign troops in Bahrain, and called for a meaningful and broad-based national dialogue.

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