Unrest in the Middle East took a more dramatic tone on Monday after Saudi Arabia troops entered the Kingdom of Bahrain in a bid to shore up support for embattled King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. An estimated force of 2,000 troops from Saudi Arabia , United Arab Emirates and other member nations of the  Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf  crossed into the Persian Gulf small island via the 26 km long King Fahd Causeway link to Saudi Arabia. This latest military intervention, backed primarily by Saudi Arabia (1,200 Saudi troops are said to be involved) highlights Bahrain’s Sunni-Arab dominated monarchy’s vulnerability to a month of unrelenting protests by Shia majority (60% of Bahraini are Shia muslim while sunni muslim actually control the nation). The move also indicates growing frustration on the part of  the Sunni/Arab led monarchy of Saudi Arabia, left isolated to battle the growing influence of its regional arch-rival; the Persian/Shia led Iran. Already the Saudi Kingdom had made massive requests to the US for delivery of sophisticated military weaponry in October 2010 in anticipation of Iran’s evolving nuclear program. The $60 Billion package that included up to 84 F-15 advanced fighter jets, modern helicopters, missile systems and upgrades to existing inventory was said to have been the largest in history. The recent fall of Saudi Arabia long time ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and its spectacular fall from Washington’s good graces did not bide well for the Saudi monarchy. Egypt with its preeminent military might in the region, had paired with Saudi Arabia’s petro-dollars and intimately cultivated relationships with Washington. Together they had been capable of influencing  middle east politics since the late 1970’s. Most notably throughout the 1980’s Iraq-Iran war and the organization of resistance to Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The alliance most visible success took place during the building of the military coalition that would support the United States in ejecting Saddam Hussein Iraqi divisions from occupied Kuwait in 1990. Saudi troops, various gulf Arab state contributors (Qatar, UAE, Oman) 2 Egyptian armored divisions and even a Syrian armored division formed the potent Arab military alliance that fought alongside US Marines to assault Iraqi lines and liberate Kuwait. Furthermore Saudi’s OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) leadership had been the guaranty of consensual production quotas from the oil cartel during oil price hikes. The latest developments on the ground a day after the introduction of Saudi troops in order to quell unrelenting uprising do not seem favorable to Saudi Arabia. On Tuesday various news channels citing Saudi security sources had announced that a Saudi soldier, identified as Sgt. Ahmed al-Raddadi had already been killed by protesters. Although Bahraini officials later contradicted that information, it appears that this latest Saudi gamble is conducive to a more unpredictable scenario. For now oil prices had been retreating to$97.09 per barrel (Nymex Light Sweet Crude) down 0.05% mainly on news of the setback suffered by the Japanese economy and its short time impact on oil consumption. However the potential for volatility and further destabilization in the region is likely to increase. Saudi troops had shown a propensity to crack down in the harshest of manners against dissent at home notably last week during attempts by Shia minority to demonstrate. The nature of a possible Iranian reaction is also fueling growing concerns as a very harsh treatment of Bahraini Shia is likely to justify a wide variety of Iranian contingencies in order to defend fellow Shia. The Iranian regime had been keen to extend its influence in Lebanon politics through its backing of Shia militant group Hezbollah and its powerful armed wing. Ominously, Tuesday state of emergency decree by the king in obvious preparation of a brutal military crackdown against the protesters has already prompted US Department of Defense to call for non-essential civilian personnel and DoD family members to leave the kingdom. With already two people killed on Tuesday and the unfolding brutal attack on protesters at Pearl Square in Manama Wednesday morning, the coming hours promise to be very tense.

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