MANAMA, Bahrain — Bahrain imposed emergency-style rules today banning all protest gatherings and threatening legal action against groups considered to be backing escalating demonstrations and clashes in the strategic Gulf kingdom.
The order, announced by the Interior Ministry, is the most sweeping attempt to quash the kingdom’s anti-government uprising since martial law rules were in effect during the early months of unrest last year.
It sharply increases pressure on political groups from Bahrain’s Shiite Muslim majority, which has led the protests seeking a greater political voice in the Sunni Muslim-ruled nation.
Tougher steps against opposition groups could raise complications for Washington and other Western allies that have stood by Bahrain’s monarchy during more than 20 months of unrest. The U.S. has important military bonds with Bahrain, but it also has called for increased efforts at dialogue to ease the tensions.