The King of Bahrain has declared emergency powers for three months in the wake of continued unrest in the tiny Persian Gulf nation, according to state television.
Under the order, King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa authorized the commander of Bahrain's defense forces to take all necessary measures to protect the safety of the country and its citizens, according to a statement read out on television.
The emergency order arrives on the day after the monarchy invited military forces primarily from Saudi Arabia to quell the ongoing disorder and protect government facilities.
Bahrain asked the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for the military support.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also sent about 500 policemen to Bahrain, according to Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the emirates’ foreign minister. Qatar said it may also dispatch some of its soldiers to Bahrain.
Bahrain is ruled by a Sunny Muslim monarchy and elite, while the vast majority of the populace are Shia who are demanding democratic reforms. Neighboring giant Saudi Arabia is predominantly Sunni kingdom ruled by Sunni monarch.
There are common responsibilities and obligations within the GCC countries,” Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, the Qatari prime minister and foreign minister, told Al Jazeera.
The arrival of Saudi and UAE troops in Bahrain is in line with a GCC defense agreement that calls for all members to oblige when needed and to fully cooperate. We are committed to adhering to the GCC agreement. At the moment we have peacekeeping troops. We don't have a full force there, but this is up for discussion.
Abdel al-Mowada, the deputy chairman of Bahrain's parliament, told Al Jazeera that it was not yet established how the Saudi-led troops would be deployed.
It is not a lack of security forces in Bahrain, it is a showing of solidarity among the GCC, he said.
I don't know if they are going to be in the streets or save certain areas ... [but protesters] blocking the roads are no good for anyone, we should talk. The government is willing to get together and make the changes needed, but when the situation is like this, you cannot talk.
Meanwhile, the Bahraini opposition, including Wefaq, the country's largest Shia movement, have condemned the entrance of foreign troops, likening it to an “occupation” that is tantamount to a declaration of war.
We consider the entry of any soldier or military machinery into the Kingdom of Bahrain's air, sea or land territories a blatant occupation, Wefaq said in a statement.
The U.S., an ally to both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, has not yet explicitly criticized the move.
We urge our GCC partners to show restraint and respect the rights of the people of Bahrain, and to act in a way that supports dialogue instead of undermining it, said Tommy Vietor, the White House spokesman.
However, Iran – which is dominated by Shias -- has strongly denounced the presence of foreign interferences” in Bahrain.
The peaceful demonstrations in Bahrain are among the domestic issues of this country, and creating an atmosphere of fear and using other countries' military forces to oppress these demands is not the solution, said Hossein Amir Abdollahian, an official from the Iranian foreign ministry, as reported by Iran's semi-official Fars news agency.
Another Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the presence of foreign forces and interference in Bahrain's internal affairs is unacceptable and will further complicate the issue. The people of Bahrain have demands, which are legitimate and are being expressed peacefully. Any violence in response to these legitimate demands should be stopped.