RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, March 16 (UPI) -- The deployment of forces from the Gulf Cooperation Council was a "natural step" for collective defense, the secretary-general of the alliance said Wednesday.
Troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deployed to Bahrain as political violence there reached a breaking point. The ruling Sunni minority is under increasing pressure from the country's Shiite majority to offer more political freedoms.
The Iranian Student News Agency reports that Tehran called the United Nations to express concern over the interference of foreign troops.
Iran said it was petitioning the United Nations to complain about the foreign intervention, which opposition groups said amounts to an occupation force.
GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman al-Attiyah said during a telephone interview with London's pan-Arab daily newspaper Asharq al-Awsat that deploying the alliance's Peninsula Shield Force wasn't a military intervention.
"The arrival of the Peninsula Shield Force troops represents a natural step in terms of collective responsibility in maintaining the stability of GCC states, and this is based on the GCC joint defense agreement," he said.
Witnesses said government forces swarmed the streets of Manama, firing rubber bullets and tear gas canisters on crowds camped out in the capital city.
At least six people were killed and hundreds more were wounded Wednesday.
Bahrain state television Tuesday announced King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa declared a three-month state of emergency as political violence intensified in the tiny island nation.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement released through his spokesman said he "strongly believes that peaceful means should be adopted to ensure national unity and stability."