No plans to pull out all Saudi troops from Bahrain

Saudi Arabia has no plans to withdraw its entire security contingent from Bahrain “because the threats still remain,” a Bahrain government source told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

A 1,500-strong force from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, dubbed the Peninsula Shield, was sent to Bahrain in mid-March to help quell Shiite opposition protests that swept the country since February.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia was preparing to pull out its contingent from Bahrain starting next week because the situation in the country had stabilized.

“Part of the Peninsula Shield contingent will return to Saudi Arabia, but that does not mean all the troops will be pulled out because there are still some threats remaining,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.

The current political unrest in Bahrain started in February with opposition protesters demanding far-reaching democratic reforms in the mainly Shiite country which has been ruled by a Sunni Muslim dynasty for more than 200 years.

Bahrain, which is home to the United States’ 5th Fleet, and its Arab neighbors from the Gulf Cooperation Council have accused Shiite protesters of having links to foreign militant groups such as the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Since the arrival of the Saudi-led contingent in the country and the introduction of a three-month curfew, the opposition has faced waves of arrests and deadly crackdowns. The curfew was lifted on June 1.

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