Middle East

Bahrain voices: How are the Gulf forces viewed?

Bahrain's mainly Shia protesters, inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, have denounced the presence of troops from Gulf states - mainly Saudi Arabia and the UAE - invited by the government after weeks of unrest. Meanwhile supporters of the government hope the forces will bring the protests to an end.

BBC Arabic spoke to a number of Bahrainis about whether the arrival of foreign troops is part of the solution to the crisis faced by their country. The following is a translation of their comments.

Batool al-Ajaweed, 18, university student

Internal security forces are already using brutal methods to crush peaceful demonstrations using unnecessary excessive force. We are not already happy with our own Bahraini forces, let alone the intervention of foreign forces.

Image caption It is unclear what role, if any, Gulf troops played in Wednesday's crackdown

The ruling family has used all of its cards and is now resorting to severely repressing the protests, and this will not pass off peacefully.

Like with Egypt and Libya, everyone is sympathetic to the legitimate demands of protesters. Everyone has so far condemned the killing of civilians in Libya, but when it comes to Bahrain, some describe the crackdown as a security necessity.

The February 14 movement is a grassroots movement that started as a Facebook group. Initially, I did not take them seriously. But after the killing of civilians, I decided to join them by volunteering in the Sulaimaniya hospital.

The protests in Bahrain are not of a sectarian nature. They are Bahraini protests, there is the Sunni as well as Shia demonstrating in Pearl Square. Iran has nothing to do with it except that the Bahraini regime is using Iran and sectarianism in its state media as scapegoats.

The government should respond to the demands of the protesters by stepping down, starting with the prime minister. Dialogue can be a solution, but the government does not want true dialogue - when the opposition parties presented its conditions, the government did not respond.

Nihal Hamza, 31, central bank employee

We are very happy because the GCC forces have arrived. We will receive them with flowers as they protect Bahrain from the behaviour of the opposition. The protests were not peaceful at all.

The opposition violated our rights to freedom and security, as we cannot go to work out of fear. Also, students at the University of Bahrain were intimidated.

Bahrain is part of the GCC, it is time for the Gulf States to help their brothers in Bahrain, and we criticise them because they were late to help.

I do not know how events will develop, but I am confident in the government and the Peninsula Shield forces in maintaining security.

I heard a statement by the Iranian foreign minister in which he said that Iran is not meddling in Bahrain, and it is purely an internal affair. I wish he would be honest in his words.

The opposition has to co-operate with the dialogue initiative launched by Crown Prince Sheikh Salman to end the crisis. We do not accept anyone but al-Khalifah as Bahrain's rulers.

Jalal al-Majed, 30, consultant

The arrival of the GCC troops in Bahrain is in the interest of the ruling family and for its protection only, and not in the interest of the country, as promoted by the official media.

The regime continues to kill unarmed citizens, but this time with the help of the Gulf states. There is no other explanation.

In fact, I'm not surprised that most of the troops are from Saudi Arabia, and I think that those who attacked protesters in Manama on 17 February were Saudi soldiers despite the denial of the government.

I participated in the protests from the beginning, and have always been peaceful. Our demands are purely national, but the government insists they are sectarian.

It seems that the government is imposing one option on the protesters, a marginalised life. When we raise our legal demands the government accuses us of trying to topple the regime.

The only way out of this crisis is to hold a general referendum, excluding naturalised citizens, on how can we run our country. It should be monitored by international bodies.

Diaa al-Jabr, 37, government employee

The Peninsula Shield states that GCC should help any of its countries which is facing any form of insecurity. I am very happy that the treaty is activated as the situation in Bahrain is unbearable.

We suffer from insecurity and now finally we will get our rights.

Peninsula Shield did not come to kill Bahrainis, and I feel that when the protesters see those forces, they will be afraid and go home.

Prince Salman called on the opposition to start dialogue and gave them 25 days to reply but there was no response.

The government offered incentives and subsidies, but the problem is that most of the opposition are sectarian.

I do not expect Iranians to intervene, if they do, there will be devastation. They do not have the right to intervene.

It is an internal matter between the king and his people, and we do not want outside interference, except in the framework of international conventions.