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Tuesday, June 7, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

New protests reported as Shi'ite opposition reorganizes in Bahrain

ABU DHABI — Less than a week after the lifting of martial law, Bahrain faces renewed Shi'ite unrest.


The Shi'ite opposition has begun to reorganize in Manama in wake of the lifting of martial law in late May. Several clashes have since been reported between Shi'ites and security forces around the Bahraini capital.

Bahrain has blamed neighboring Iran for aiding the Shi'ite unrest, which threatened to bring down the Sunni regime in March.

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The Gulf Cooperation Council has contributed a reported 5,000 troops, most of them from Saudi Arabia, to stop the Shi'ite campaign. Officials said the GCC force, called Peninsula Shield, would remain in Bahrain for at least the next several months.

"We condemn this attack," Said Hadi, a member of the Shi'ite opposition bloc, Al Wefaq, said. "This kind of attack will make the situation even worse."

The clashes took place during a Shi'ite festival of Azza on June 4-5 around Manama. Al Wefaq, which controls nearly half of parliament, said police sought to block what the party termed religious gatherings by firing rubber bullets, stun and tear gas grenades toward Shi'ites.

"The authorities said they wouldn't attack religious events, but this is what they did," Hadi said.

Officials acknowledged the clashes with Shi'ites. They said Shi'ite provocateurs sought to organize anti-government marches. They said most of the violence took place in the Shi'ite suburb of Sitra.

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