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Spencer Ackerman analyzes the escalation in Bahrain, where foreign troops from Saudi Arabia and the UAE have arrived to aid the government:

It’s a move that undercuts the Obama administration’s rosy portrayal of the [Bahraini] monarchy. Despite a paroxysm of violence in February when security forces attacked protesters in the capitol city of Manama, “today, the Pearl Roundabout in Bahrain is a place of nonviolent activism,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured reporters on March 1. After a visit last week to Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Gates said he was convinced the royals “are serious about real reform.”

If so, that lasted until about when Gates’ plane went wheels-up.

Security forces are now trying to clear Manama’s financial district of protesters, firing tear gas canisters into demonstrators’ chests. About 1000 Saudi troops entered Bahrain on Monday, ostensibly to protect government installations, but protesters at the Pearl Roundabout set up barricades in preparation for the Saudis attacking them. The leading Shia opposition party, Wefaq, called it a “declaration of war and an occupation.” ... [T]he timing of Gates’ trip is sure to spark suspicion in Manama that the U.S. approved of the violence and the invasion.

Jacqwi Campbell files a dispatch from the weekend protests that spurred the intervention. Shayan Ghajar worries that "the military intervention of Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Khalifa dynasty will serve as a greater impetus for Iran to intervene in Bahrain."

(Photo: Bahrain TV via Agence France-Presse/Getty Images, via Newsflick)

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