King of Bahrain says plot against GCC that began 30 years ago foiled

Authorities urge employees to return to work as sea traffic ban imposed

GCC back Saudi Arabia in assaults on diplomatic missions in Iran

Riyadh summons Iranian ambassador, hands him official protest against attacks

An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia strongly condemns the attacks against its diplomatic mission in the Islamic Republic of Iran, holding the Iranian government fully responsible for the protection of the missions of the Kingdom and of all members of the diplomatic mission on its territory in accordance with international laws and conventions.

The source pointed out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has formally protested to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will consider any measures to be taken in light of the response of the Iranian government.

The Secretary General of the Cooperation Council For the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al-Atiyyah strongly condemned the unjustified attack on the diplomatic mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In a statement issued this week, Al-Atiyyah said that these irresponsible acts are in breach of all laws, international conventions and diplomatic norms, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

At the same time, he said the Iranian authorities will be held fully responsible for the protection of all members of the Saudi diplomatic mission in Iran.

The Kingdom of Bahrain strongly condemned the attacks against the diplomatic mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Iran.

A statement issued by the foreign ministry of the Kingdom of Bahrain said the attacks violate all international laws and conventions and diplomatic norms. The statement added that the attacks flagrantly violate the sanctity of the diplomatic mission and provisions of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Meanwhile, Bahrain's king said Monday that a foreign plot to "subvert security and stability" in the Gulf island kingdom has been foiled, and praised the Saudi-led force he invited to help quell the unprecedented unrest in this majority Shiite nation.

Any reference to a foreign conspiracy against Bahrain's Sunni dynasty can be interpreted as jab at the region's Shiite powerhouse Iran. Gulf Sunni kings and sheiks are concerned Iran will gain more influence in the oil-rich region by helping Bahrain's Shiites in their revolt for greater political freedoms.

Bahrain is trying to crush a monthlong Shiite upraising against the Sunni monarchy that has been in power for 200 years. The revolt has been inspired by mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled the two countries' presidents.

Bahrain opposition's main demand is for a constitutional monarchy that would keep the royal family in power but would let people elected a government.

Authorities have vowed to root out descent. The king declared a three-month emergency rule and invited armies from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Sunni-ruled Gulf states to help quell unrest in Bahrain, the home of U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa praised the Saudi-led force and said "Bahrain is bigger and stronger today than ever." "I here announce the failure of the fomented subversive plot against security and stability," the king was quoted as saying by state-run Bahrain News Agency. The king spoke to the commander of the Saudi-led force and said its troops give Bahrain strength and confidence.

Opposition leaders on Sunday called the rulers to pull the Saudi-led troops out of Bahrain.

Neither Shiite power Iran nor Sunni heavyweight Saudi Arabia is a solution for Bahrain, said Ali Salman, a senior opposition leader.

"We don't want Iranians to come. We don't want a big problem in this small country," Salman said, adding that the solution to the country's crisis has to come from its people.

Iran has condemned the presence of the Gulf force in Bahrain and Shiites across the Middle East have been outraged by the deadly crackdown of protest, that has killed at least 13 people. Last week Bahrain asked the Iranian ambassador to leave the country.

On Monday, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, told Iran's state-run Press TV that Bahrain's charge d'affaires in Tehran was informed on Sunday that one of the Bahraini diplomats in Iran must leave. No other details were immediately known.

Bahraini authorities have widened pressure on dissent after imposing emergency rule in the country, interrogating human rights activists and detaining doctors from the state-run hospital who helped treat protesters at the height of the uprising. Salmaniya medical complex remains under control of Bahrain's military.

Security forces overran the main protest camp in the capital on Wednesday, setting off clashes that killed at least five people, including two policemen.

Bahrain's foreign minister said on Tuesday that the tiny Gulf kingdom would focus on restoring security and pushing ahead with political consultations after Gulf troops quashed one month of protests.

"The situation has now evolved towards calm and we will continue on this path," Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa told a news conference after talks with Arab League chief Amr Moussa in Cairo.

"There is no doubt that continued political consultations are the way forward," he added.

He said the kingdom would concentrate on "restoring security, stability and unity between citizens after much polarization in recent days."

Arab League ambassadors meeting in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday said Bahrain's use of Gulf troops was "legitimate" based on agreements between members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Last month, Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman offered to start an open dialogue over issues that instigated the month-long protest in central Manama.

But the Shiite-led opposition says it refuses to be coerced into talks, demanding a "correct" environment for negotiations aimed at solving political issues in the Gulf state ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifa family.

Protests were crushed by security forces last week after the royal family called in Gulf troops, mostly from Saudi Arabia, when the demonstrations escalated into clashes that paralyzed the capital.

Bahrain's foreign minister said the troops were called in to "protect key installations against any external threat to the kingdom."

The wealthy Arab oil states in the Gulf are united in their fear of any expanding influence from Shiite-majority Iran.

Moussa said the position of Arab countries was "very clearly to maintain stability in Bahrain and preserve its Arab identity." Meanwhile, unrest spread in southern Syria on Monday with hundreds of people demonstrating against the government in three towns near the main city of Deraa, but authorities did not use force to quell the latest protests.

Security forces killed four civilians in demonstrations that erupted last week in Deraa, in the most serious challenge to President Bashar al-Assad's rule since the 45-year-old succeeded his father 11 years ago.

An 11-year-old child died overnight from inhaling tear gas fired by security forces, activists said.

"This is peaceful, peaceful. God, Syria, freedom," chanted the protesters in Jassem, an agricultural town 30 km (20 miles) west of Deraa.

Demonstrations also erupted in the towns of Nawa and Inkhel during which marchers held placards with the word "freedom."

Leading opposition figure Haitham al-Maleh said on Monday a desire for democratic reform was near-universal in Syria.

"The revolution is at the door and the regime is still flirting with change," said Maleh, an 80-year-old lawyer and former judge who has spent his life peacefully resisting the ruling Baath Party's monopoly on power, much of it from prison.

Independent figures have long urged Assad to curb security apparatus, initiate rule of law, release thousands of political prisoners, allow freedom of expression and reveal the fate of tens of thousands who disappeared during repression in the 1980s.

The ruling Baath Party has banned opposition and enforced emergency laws since 1963.

The protests have demanded freedom and an end to corruption and repression, but not the overthrow of Assad.

The authorities appeared to adopt less heavy-handed tactics, choosing not to intervene against protesters, although at least five people were arrested on Monday.

France, which has been a strong proponent of rehabilitating Syria's ruling elite in the West, urged Damascus "to respond to the Syrian people's aspirations with reforms."

The United States condemned the violence.

"We call on the Syrian government to allow demonstrations to take place peacefully. Those responsible for the violence over the weekend must be held accountable," said Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

In Deraa, hundreds of black-uniformed security forces wielding AK-47 assault rifles lined the streets but did not confront thousands of mourners who marched at the funeral of 23-year-old Raed al-Kerad, a protester killed in Deraa.

"God, Syria, freedom. The people want the overthrow of corruption," they chanted. The slogan is a play on the words "the people want the overthrow of the regime," the rallying cry of revolutions that overthrew the veteran rulers of Tunisia and Egypt.

Security forces opened fire last Friday on civilians taking part in a peaceful protest in Deraa to demand the release of 15 children detained for writing protest graffiti.

Authorities released the children on Monday in a sign they were hoping to defuse tension in the border town, which witnessed more protests after Friday's crackdown.

Protesters have also demanded the release of political prisoners, the dismantling of secret police headquarters in Deraa, the dismissal of the governor, a public trial for those responsible for the killings and the scrapping of regulations requiring secret police permission to sell and buy property.

Deraa's secret police is headed by a cousin of Assad, who has emerged in the last four years from isolation by the West over Syria's role in Lebanon and Iraq and backing for mostly Palestinian militant groups.

Assad has strengthened Syria's ties with Shiite Iran as he sought to improve relations with the United States and strike a peace deal with Israel to regain the occupied Golan Heights, lost in the 1967 Middle East war.

But he left the authoritarian system he inherited intact.

His father sent troops to the city of Hama in 1982 to crush the armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, killing thousands in the conservative religious city.