Fresh diplomatic friction between Iran and Bahrain has emerged between yesterday and today as a result of plans for a possible union between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to expand at a later time, some countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Tehran yesterday claimed that such a project – which was discussed last Monday during a summit in Riyadh Gulf monarchies – would only aggravate the crisis in Bahrain, a Shiite-majority country (like Iran), but ruled by a Sunni monarchy accused by the opposition of discriminating against Shiites and keeping them on the margins of political and economic power.
“The solution of the crisis in Bahrain must consider and address the legitimate demands of the population. Any type of foreign intervention or any ill-conceived plan without taking into account the opinion of the people will deepen existing wounds,” said Iranian the Iranian Mehr press agency, quoting Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast.
The government of Bahrain has responded in turn denouncing Iranian meddling in its internal affairs and accusing Tehran of threatening the sovereignty of Bahrain. In particular, the spotlight was directed toward the Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani and a document signed by 190 Iranian MPs condemning the union project.
For over a year Bahrain has witnssed a succession of anti-government protests that have been often suppressed by force. The opposition and humanitarian organizations have reported several cases of abuses and killings committed by security forces and accused the King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa have just launched surface reforms while the power structure remains absolute and undemocratic. The protests were mostly peaceful and several activists remain under arrest. One of them, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, started his 1ooth day of hunger strike today.