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Saudi Arabia, Bahrain start joint naval drills in Persian Gulf

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have started joint naval exercise in the Persian Gulf waters as the Manama regime has been trying for years to draw closer to Saudi authorities and receive their assistance in the heavy-handed crackdown against pro-democracy activists and opposition figures.

Commander of the Eastern Fleet Rear Admiral Fahd al-Ghafili stated on Tuesday that the naval exercises, codenamed Bridge 18, began today between the Saudi Royal Navy and the Bahraini Royal Navy, Saudi Arabia’s official news agency SPA reported.

He added that the drills are aimed at consolidating Riyadh-Manama naval ties, increasing combat preparedness, supporting and reinforcing joint forces in case of naval confrontations and strengthening joint operational coordination.

Ghafili further noted that the naval drills will be staged in two phases, stressing that Saudi and Bahraini naval forces will carry out controlling operations in their territorial waters, protect critical infrastructure and main waterways, and conduct surveillance operations during the maneuvers.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Ale Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any trace of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Ale Khalifah regime’s crackdown.

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