Saudi Arabian officials told BBC News today they are so "insulted" by a parliamentary probe into UK relations with the powerful Gulf kingdom and Bahrain, where a mostly Shiite-led uprising has strained regional relations, that they are "re-evaluating their country's historic relations with Britain."
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Predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia has watched developments in predominantly Shiite Bahrain with unease. The Saudis are strongly allied with Bahrain's embattled ruling Sunni monarchy, so much so that they sent 1,000 troops into Bahrain in March 2011 to help the royal family tamp down mostly Shiite-led protests, reported The New York Times.
Saudi Arabia accuses rival Shiite Iran of fomenting unrest in the small but strategically-located Gulf kingdom, allegations Bahrain's anti-government activists deny, according to BBC.
Bahrain has enacted some political reforms since the uprisings began, but activists claim they were cosmetic and human rights organizations have slammed the monarchy over its crackdown on dissent.
Bahrainis meanwhile continue to protest, most recently on Friday, where a Manama demonstration turned violent and thousands joined a separate opposition-led march outside the capital.
Britain's Foreign Affairs Committee announced in September that they were reviewing the country's ties with ally Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in light of the latter's ongoing unrest, said BBC.
Saudi Arabia's UK envoy Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf Al-Saud today denounced the move, telling BBC the kingdom will "not tolerate" meddling into the affairs of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), a group comprised of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and Oman.
Another Saudi official, whom BBC did not identify, underscored the country's displeasure with the review, saying the nation "will not permit a group of so-called human rights activists, supported and funded by foreign entities, to implant a new foreign-linked political system in a fellow GCC country."
UK government officials were quick to distance themselves from the offending probe, the Foreign Office telling BBC that while they respected lawmakers' "right to carry out inquiries" Saudi Arabia remains "a key strategic partner in the region and one of the closest friends and allies."
Trade between Saudi Arabia and Britain amounts to over six billion a year, according to the report.