Bahrain’s foreign minister on Tuesday accused Iran of eyeing the Gulf monarchy as “the crown jewel” in a campaign to penetrate the Gulf, and called for Arab support in confronting Tehran, according to official Egyptian media.
Khaled bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa also accused Shiite Iran of trying to garner the support of Shiites worldwide for its vision of a theocratic government ruled by a supreme cleric.
Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy has clamped down on pro-democracy protests, spearheaded by majority Shiites, with the help of troops of other Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia.
“Iran always looks at Bahrain as the crown jewel,” Khalifa was quoted as saying by the official Egyptian news agency MENA, adding it is the entry point into the Gulf.
“Gulf countries should not have to stand alone facing Iran, (other) Arab countries must be responsible, and Arab publics must pay attention to Iran’s dangers, which come under a thousand guises. The threat is grave,” he said.
Khalifa, whose government is accused of cracking down on Shiites and discriminating against them after pro-democracy protests erupted in February, denied that the monarchy was sectarian.
“Today there is something called Wilayat al-Faqih in Iran, which it wants all Shiites around the world to emulate,” he said of Iran’s ruling ideology since its Islamic revolution in 1979.
Khalifa, who met his Iranian counterpart in New York last month, said he was not opposed to talks with Tehran, but it continued to “meddle” in Arab affairs.
Bahrain’s King Hamad has ordered a probe into his country’s unrest but tensions remain high in the tiny country although mass protests have subsided.