Saudi troops enter Bahrain; White House says "not an invasion"
Saudi-led forces from the Gulf countries' joint Peninsula Shield Force crossed the international causeway into Bahrain March 14 to help restore order after protesters shut down Manama's financial center the previous day, sparking hours of street clashes. The incursion by the 1,000-strong force came in response to a request form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Responding to a reporter's question about the incursion, White House spokesman Jay Carney told a news briefing: "We've seen the reports that you're talking about. This is not an invasion of a country. We urge the government of Bahrain, as we have repeatedly, as well as other GCC countries, to exercise restraint." (Middle East Online, Reuters, March 14)
Protest-crushing Iran warns against repression
Iran, which has recently crushed protests within its own borders, rushed to pose itself as the defender of the mostly Shi'ite protesters in Bahrain. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Bahrain's authorities should avoid using "violence and force against the population," adding that Iran expects "the Bahraini government to be wise in responding to the demands of protesters and respecting their rights." (Middle East Online, March 14)