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Friday, May 13, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Gulf state troops to remain in Bahrain in 2011

ABU DHABI — The Gulf Cooperation Council plans to maintain its military force in Bahrain as the Sunni regime recovers from the Shi'ite revolt.


Officials said Bahrain has agreed to continue to host the GCC's Peninsula Shield force for at least the rest of 2011. They said the kingdom was persuaded by neighboring Saudi Arabia, deemed the leader of the GCC mission.

"I say to those who did not get the message, 'If you return we will come back stronger this time,' " Bahrain's military commander Air Marshal Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, referring to Shi'ite opponents, said.

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Bahrain has reported a GCC force of 1,500 since late March, assigned to site security. But regional diplomats said the Peninsula Shield contingent exceeded 5,000 and contained mostly officers from the U.S.-trained Saudi Arabian National Guard.

So far, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have contributed to the GCC force in Bahrain. Kuwait has reported the deployment of a naval force to block suspected Iranian arms smuggling to Bahrain, headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Officials said the GCC force would remain even after Bahrain's lifting of the state of emergency in June. They acknowledged that Shi'ite unrest could resume under Iranian direction.

"They were given pills that affected their minds and made them do unusual things," Khalifa, referring to the Shi'ite protesters, said.

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