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
"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
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.