SAUDI Arabia sent troops into Bahrain yesterday to help put down weeks of protests by the Shi’ite Muslim majority, a move opponents of the Sunni ruling family on the island called a declaration of war.
The Saudi capital, Riyadh, said that it had responded to a “security threat” by deploying its troops on the streets of its neighbour. They are to protect strategic sites such as bridges and government buildings. Shi’ites make up about 15 per cent of the population in Saudi Arabia, a key US ally and the world’s top exporter of oil.
Bahrain has been gripped by its worst unrest since the 1990s after protesters took to the streets last month, inspired by uprisings that toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.
The intervention in Bahrain came as David Cameron yesterday insisted that the UK will not be dragged into a war with Libya.
The government is coming under increasing pressure to decide if it will intervene in the region as Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi regains control of key strongholds. Gaddafi’s jets bombed Libyan rebels yesterday, aiding a counter-offensive that has pushed insurgents 100 miles east in a week. Cameron said: “There is no intention to get involved in another war. What is being looked at is how do we tighten the pressure on an unacceptable, illegitimate regime.”