The diplomats said the Sunni kingdom was on the verge of collapse. They
said King Hamad Bin Issa Al Khalifa has become a figurehead and the regime
was being run by his son, Crown Prince Salman.
For his part, Salman has been opposed by the military leadership in
Bahrain. The sources said the military command has been pressing for an
immediate crackdown on the Shi'ite opposition
in cooperation with Saudi Arabia.
At this point, about 4,000 Saudi troops were reported in Bahrain,
including a battalion from a special Salafist force, Middle East Newsline reported. The diplomats said the
Saudis have deployed the U.S.-origin S-70 Black Hawk helicopter as well as
the French-origin AMX-10 main battle tank and blocked all routes to the
King Fahd Causeway, which connects Bahrain to the Saudi kingdom.
On March 15, a Saudi Army sergeant was killed by Shi'ite gunmen in
Manama. The sources said the Saudis have deployed forces around government
buildings, major businesses and the royal palace in Bahrain.
"The Saudis thought they could intimidate Shi'ites, but they are
back," another diplomat said. "This could get extremely bloody over the next