Human rights demonstrators in Manama
Human rights demonstrators in Manama Reuters

Bahrain's regime has claimed that foreign powers have grouped together to foment unrest by financing NGOs, echoing similar accusations by the Egyptian military government against pro-democracy protests.

Field Marshal Shaikh Khalifa, commander in chief of the Bahrain Defence Forces, told Al Ayam newspapers that 22 NGOs, most of them funded by the US, were plotting against the regime.

"Nineteen of them are based in the US and three in a Gulf country," he said, although he would not name the Gulf state.

"They are all operated, funded and trained by the US and the Gulf country. When we confronted officials from both countries with facts and information that we have gathered lately, they distanced themselves from them, claiming they were civil society organisations," he said.

He insisted the media reports were part of this "foreign plot" to destabilise the monarchy.

"Arabs in the past believed that wars always started with words, and we today say that wars start and end with words. The savage media assault on Bahrain had been planned for a long time and five countries and three terrorist organisations were involved in this media war against us," he said.

"In their conspiracy against the regime in Bahrain, they provided large funds and mobilised people from intelligence services, the military, the media, the press, media agencies and satellite channels. They all conspired against Bahrain at a time when we were regretfully unaware of what was happening. We did not expect such a carefully prepared plot to target Bahrain. Thank God, we were able to foil their plot," Khalifa said.

His allegations were a surprise as the two countries have had a close relationship. Up until now, the Bahrain regime has blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the unrest.

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