Bahrain has foiled a “foreign plot” in crushing unrest led by Shi’ite Muslims, the Gulf state’s monarch said on Monday.
Its Sunni minority rulers ordered pro-democracy protests to be broken up last week after calling for military help from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
King Hamad said the alleged plot had been “fomented over a period of 20 to maybe 30 years.” He also rejected accusations that Saudi troops had fired on Shi’ite villagers.
The king’s speech will be seen as a veiled attack on Shi’ite neighbour Iran, which has been highly critical of his regime’s bloody crackdown.
Some 13 people, mostly Shi’ite protesters, have been killed since the unrest began over one month ago. The Shi’ite majority complain of discrimination and want a greater say in the way Bahrain is governed.