Bahrain has arrested hundreds of state employees, permitted widespread and systematic human rights abuses in its prison and jailed leading political critics... not to mention opening fire on protesters.
In mid-March, troops from Saudi Arabia arrived to help quell the unrest.
Now it's being claimed that Bahraini officials have travelled to Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan to seek mercernaries and more weapons.
Correspondent: Liam Cochrane
Speaker: Ali al-Ahmad, heads the Washington based Institute for Gulf Affairs
AL-AHMAD: For the past few decades the Bahraini monarchy have been relying on foreign mercenaries to build its army in order to stop the influence or reduce the influence of the people of Bahrain. The majority of the people of Bahrain have been trying to change the policy and right now even unseat the regime, the monarchy has been using imported soldiers and officers to stop the people from taking power peacefully. And that has been the case for example in Bahrain. There is not a single Shia Muslim officer or soldier in the whole of the security and armed forces in Bahrain, which makes it one of the most unique and disturbing armies in the world. In fact the majority of the population are not allowed to enter into the security forces, and that is why they're using imported, because the minority population cannot support the, does not have the numbers to provide for security and they still do not have trust the minority that they come from the Sunni Muslim, the Bahrain, so they need to import mercenaries from the foreign countries specially, Pakistan and other countries.
COCHRANE: So at the moment there are already mercenaries from Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan in Bahrain, is that the situation?
AL-AHMAD: Right now we have seen the majority of them come from Pakistan and some other Arab countries like Jordan, there have been reports or knowledge of Somalis, Yemenis, Syrians, but this is a new way, they are trying to really to not have one group dominates the army, so there bringing in Asians from poorer countries, like Malaysia and Indonesia, because it's cheaper to bring an Indonesian than to bring a Syrian. And that makes it harder for them to go against the government, because they do not speak the language, they just receive orders and kill people or torture people that they don't speak their language and they're basically foreign to them, and that has been the case. One of the leaders or the commanders of the Bahrain army spent a lot of time, about a week in Pakistan and met with Pakistani officials and they were guaranteed that they will get anything they want in terms of arms and in terms of mercenaries, because the government of Pakistan must approve such a transaction.
COCHRANE: For the case of Indonesia and Malaysia, how are you so certain that this is happening, that there is a recruitment going on, have you had contact with Bahraini officials or Indonesian and Malaysian officials?
AL-AHMAD: Well this was not only through our sources in Bahrain, but the Wall Street Journal also reported the fact that they are imported from Indonesia. So this is nothing, it's not exclusive information that I have but also the American media, such as the respected Wall Street Journal has reported on that. And they have been getting Saudi support in trying to recruit people. In terms of Malaysia, the Malaysian government itself offered to the Saudi representative that they are willing to send troops to protect peace in Bahrain, when they mean peace they mean that to protect the monarch, the absolute monarchy in Bahrain from the population of that country.
COCHRANE: There's a willingness there, is there any confirmation that either Malaysia or Indonesia have actually, people from Malaysia or Indonesia have actually gone to Bahrain?
AL-AHMAD: Right now we don't have any confirmation of that, but I think that's what taken, between weeks and a few months. I think the Malaysians probably would do that at the end because they are really focused on gaining a lot of economic access to the Gulf because of the high income and the oil revenue there so it will improve the economy of Malaysia. So they are willing to send a few hundred people and get the dollars for that, I think that they will do that anytime because they are focused on their economy in Malaysia. Similar in Indonesia the population is large, they have to do something, tens of thousands of people abroad for work and work and security, an officer or a soldier probably pays better than a maid or a driver in the Gulf.