Manama, Asharq Al-Awsat—Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states need to strengthen security ties, including further study of a proposed joint Gulf police force, in order to confront Iranian regional interference.
Bahrain Interior Minister Lieutenant General Rashid Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the GCC states are contemplating a number of joint ventures, including a joint Gulf Police Force. He emphasized that this project had initially been proposed by Manama to strengthen security ties between the GCC member states, and this would include a central mechanism tasked with gathering and sharing information and intelligence between GCC states.
The Interior Minister confirmed discussing the threat represented by Iran—in light of the discovery of espionage cells linked with Tehran in a number of Gulf states— with his GCC counterparts during a consultative meeting in Manama yesterday. He emphasized that the spy cells discovered in Bahrain, Kuwait, and most recently Saudi Arabia, confirms the extent of Iranian interference in the region, adding that the GCC states must band together to confront this.
The 14th Consultative Meeting of GCC Interior Minister’s was held in Manama yesterday, chaired by Al Khalifa. During the meeting, he stressed that “any side that thinks of jeopardizing the sovereignty and integrity of our countries should not expect us to accept that,” adding, “we need to move towards closer cooperation and unity in words and deeds.”
He added, “Those with bad intentions tend to spread chaos to break the law . . . We confront security-related cases and situations that are dealt with according to the law since there is no compromise when it comes to the protection of the kingdom’s security.”
Speaking about Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Reactor, the Bahraini Interior Minister revealed that steps are being taken to prepare for a GCC complaint to the UN regarding the threat this represents to the Gulf. He said that the first step includes a study examining the effect the recent earthquake had on the reactor, calling for an official inquiry.
“A state of worry and apprehension has prevailed over the past weeks in the Arabian Gulf due to the earthquakes which hit Iran and were felt by citizens and residents in the GCC countries,” Al Khalifa said during the consultative meeting.
He added, “This raised concern over the probability of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant being affected and will have an impact on environmental safety in the Arabian Gulf region.”
Al Khalifa emphasized that the threat represented by earthquakes and ground instability “motivates us to quickly get to work together to put together the required recommendations, including the serious repercussions that may affect the public safety of GCC states.”
Al Khalifa made reference to numerous regional security violations and intrusions, including the espionage cell recently uncovered in Bahrain. He confirmed that this Tehran-backed cell was tasked with forming a military organization to carry out terrorist attacks across Bahrain. He added that Manama had proof, including confessions, communications evidence, and money transfers, confirming that Iran was behind this cell.
The Bahraini Interior Minister also claimed that Saudi authorities had apprehended a similar cell affiliated to Iranian intelligence including a number of well-known academics.
Al Khalifa stressed that these incidents, among others, necessitate GCC states strengthening their security ties in order to confront the criminal and terrorist threats to the Arab Gulf.