Kuwait naval units join Bahrain mission ... ‘Plot foiled’ Protester found dead

MANAMA, March 21, (Agencies): Kuwaiti navy units have joined other Gulf forces deployed in Bahrain to contain a Shiite-led pro-democracy movement, the Bahraini army chief said on Monday.
Marshal Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Khalifa “welcomed the arrival of Kuwaiti navy units” that have joined Peninsula Shield Gulf forces deployed in the country, the official BNA news agency said, without specifiying the size of the Kuwaiti force.

Saudi Arabia has deployed over a thousand troops to Bahrain, while the United Arab Emirates sent 500 police and Qatar announced that it intends to send forces, but has not specified their number.
Kuwaiti Islamist MPs had announced they would move to question the prime minister in parliament for not sending troops to Bahrain.

That came after the Shiite Muslim minority staged a rally to thank the government for not sending troops to Bahrain to help the Sunni-led government crackdown on their fellow Shiites.
King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa Sunday commended positions of the GCC leaders for sending troops to protect Bahrain from harm.

“Your presense is a support and gives us strength,” King Hamad said in a meeting with the commander and senior officers from the Peninsula Shield forces, deployed in Bahrain in line with a common defense agreement between the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.

King Hamad, cited by official media, said the deployment of the peninsula shield forces was not to restore domestic order in Bahrain but to “have the duty of defending any country of the GCC states.”
King Hamad said a foreign plot against his Sunni-led island state had been foiled, and the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council warned that interference by Shi’ite Iran in the Gulf Arab states would not be tolerated.
Confrontation between Sunnis and Shiites has stirred international tension in the oil-exporting region, gripped by its worst unrest in years.

“An external plot has been fomented for 20 to 30 years until the ground was ripe for subversive designs... I here announce the failure of the plot,” King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was quoted as telling troops in a report by state news agency BNA.
Had the plot succeeded, he said, it could have spilled into neighbouring states.
King Hamad did not say who was behind the plot, but his comments came after a day of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions between Bahrain and Shi’ite power Iran.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Abdulrahman al-Attiyah told reporters in Abu Dhabi: “We reject any intervention in our internal affairs and among these countries (intervening) is Iran,” after he was asked about troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates being sent to Bahrain.
Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television channel quoted Bahrain authorities as saying communications systems had been sent from Iran to the Bahraini opposition.

The ferocity of last week’s government crackdown, in which Bahrain called in Gulf troops, imposed martial law and drove protesters off the streets, has stunned majority Shiites, the main force behind the protests, and enraged Tehran.

Iran, which supports Shi’ite groups in Iraq and Lebanon, has complained to the United Nations and asked neighbours to join it in urging Saudi Arabia to withdraw forces from Bahrain.
Bahrain expelled Iran’s charge d’affaires on Sunday, accusing him of contacts with opposition groups, a diplomatic source said.

The Iranian ambassador was asked to leave last week. Iran expelled a Bahraini diplomat in response.
More than 60 percent of Bahrainis are Shiites. Most protesters have campaigned for a constitutional monarchy, but calls by hardliners for the overthrow of the monarchy have alarmed Sunnis.
Shiites across the region have complained for decades of oppression by Sunnis, dominant throughout the Arab world.

Bahrain’s political crisis has been the subject of a media war between pro-Iranian television channels and Bahraini state media. Each side accuses the other of incitement.
An uneasy calm spread through the city as Bahrainis returned to work and there were fewer checkpoints in the streets, though helicopters still buzzed over Shi’ite areas.

Shaking their fists and shouting “Down with Al Khalifa”, about 2,000 people joined the fourth funeral procession in as many days for someone whose death during the unrest is blamed by Shiites on the authorities.
Waving black and Bahraini flags, mourners gathered in the Shi’ite village of Buri to bury 38-year-old father-of-three Abdulrusul Hajair, found on Sunday apparently beaten to death.
“We want to know the reson for this ugly crime and who is behind it,” said Youssef al-Buri, his cousin.
“Are people now getting killed for their identity? What is this country coming to now? Abductions? Beatings? Murder?”

A Bahraini protester has been found dead after he went missing for days following a crackdown by security forces on mainly Shiite Muslim demonstrators last week, a member of an opposition group said on Monday.
The protester, Jawwad al-Shamlan, disappeared after he left the Pearl roundabout where anti-government rallies took place earlier this month, said Mattar Ibrahim Mattar, a member of Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest Shiite group.
Shamlan was later found dead with gunshot wounds to his stomach, Mattar said.
Mattar said 95 people were missing since the crackdown, and only 20 of them had been arrested by the security forces. He blamed the authorities for the disappearances.
The government’s crackdown has angered Shiite in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, and raised tensions across the oil-exporting region.

Some doctors at Bahrain’s busiest hospital say they are too scared to return to work for fear of being arrested or harassed after tre9ating wounded protesters during weeks of unrest in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.
Bahraini security forces raided Salmaniya hospital on Wednesday, the day they launched a crackdown that drove mainly Shiite Muslim protesters off the streets, and removed a handful of tents that opposition activists had set up in the car park.

Four doctors, who declined to be named, told Reuters that few casualties arrived at Salmaniya, a busy public hospital where treatment is heavily subsidised, on Wednesday because troops surrounded the compound and closed all but one entrance.

At least four medical workers — Ali al-Ikry, Mahmood Asghar and brothers Ghassan and Bassem Dhaif — have already been detained, doctors and opposition politicians say, after publicly criticising the government’s crackdown on protests.

Amid martial law imposed on Tuesday, it was not possible to confirm how many people were detained. The government has issued no official figures for casualties or detainees. Rumours abound.
“On Tuesday, we received a lot of injured people and did lots of operations back to back,” said one doctor who left Salmaniya on Tuesday and was not allowed back the next day.

“There were serious injuries, and now they have occupied the hospital it has become very difficult to access and follow up with patients as some of the doctors who went got harassed. Everyone is too scared to go.”
Another doctor said troops and police had been conducting constant searches, entering wards with sniffer dogs, and that they had split the casualties off from other patients.

“I went in on Thursday to operate and soldiers came into the room with their boots on and machine guns, right into the operating theatre,” said another doctor.

“We tried to tell them this is not acceptable. While I was operating they came three or four times. We were reconstructing the jaw of a man who had been shot in the face and had a shattered jaw... and it was affecting our concentration.”

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