Bahrain: Gulf troops to stay til Iran threat gone

April 18, 2011 17:26

DUBAI - Saudi and UAE forces will only leave Bahrain when an Iranian threat to Gulf Arab countries is judged to be over, Bahrain's foreign minister said on Monday, hinting that Gulf troops could be there for some time.

Gulf Arab troops headed to the island state, seen as a bulwark by Washington and its Sunni Arab allies against the ambitions of Shi'ite power Iran, in March under the aegis of a Gulf defence pact to help put down a pro-democracy protest movement led by majority Shi'ites.

Iran complained to the United Nations about the deployment of Gulf Cooperation Council forces in Bahrain and said it cannot remain indifferent to the crackdown on protests, which has continued in recent weeks with the arrests of hundreds of activists and some deaths in custody.

"There are no Saudi forces, there are GCC forces and they will leave when they are done with any external threat," Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in the United Arab Emirates.

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