A day after it deployed foreign troops (including troops from Saudi Arabia), the ruling family in Bahrain has declared martial law, and instructed the soldiers and foreign fighters on the streets to "take all measures" to fight rebellion against its autocratic rule.
A standoff also appears to be worsening between the two key regional protagonists - Saudi Arabia and Iran - both of whom have accused each other of using the Arab world's smallest state as an arena for their broader agendas.
Bahrain declares martial law as protesters clash with troops
The latest events seem to mark a new phase in the crisis that has paralysed the tiny kingdom since January. Demonstrators have drawn strength from the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt that saw autocratic regimes toppled by popular protests. However, unlike in either place, Bahrain's protests have taken on a strong sectarian dimension.
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