Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat – Statements issued by an Iranian official have stoked the ire of Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry, resulting in Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa hitting back. The Bahraini Foreign Minister, communicating via Twitter, commented that “it’s about time we see a ‘Friends of the Iranian people Conference’”. This statement, which was tweeted in both Arabic and English on Tuesday, was re-tweeted a total of 800 times as of Thursday morning. Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa’s twitter account lists him as “Diplomat, Ambassador, Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Reader, World Traveller [and] Bon Vivant” and has 121,254 followers.
The Bahraini Foreign Minister’s remarks come after Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, accused Bahraini security forces of utilizing “toxic gases” to disperse protesters.
The Bahraini Foreign Ministry responded by issuing an official statement asserting that “we are deeply astonished at these false allegations that aim to cover up the catastrophic situation in Iran and the disastrous and tragic economic conditions suffering by the brotherly people of Iran. We stress that the globally recognized reforms launched by King Hamad in 2001 will continue for the sake of a Bahraini society that enjoys freedom, democracy and respect for human rights.”
The statement confirmed Bahrain’s “steady and firm” rejection of any interference in its domestic affairs, adding that it regards this as “an encroachment on its sovereignty.”
The Bahraini Foreign Ministry added “we call on the Iranian government and its officials to immediately stop making allegations and statements regarding Bahrain’s domestic affairs and to abide by diplomatic norms and the principles of good neighbourliness.”
For his part, a senior Bahraini Foreign Ministry source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, stressed that Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa’s remarks came in response to “provocative and on-going Iranian interference in Bahraini affairs” adding that Tehran is seeking to “besmirch” Bahrain’s good name at every opportunity.
Whilst Bahraini Foreign Ministry Undersecretary, Hamad Al Amer, stressed that Iranian interference in Bahraini domestic affairs is nothing new, adding that Tehran officials had been making similar statements over the past two years. He added that the Iranian regime has sought to issue provocative statements interfering in Bahraini affairs at all levels, from the Supreme Guide to the President to the Foreign Minister and his aides. Amer expressed his sorrow regarding Tehran’s actions in this regard, stressing that Bahrain wants to have good relations and cooperation with all neighbouring states, including Iran.
Earlier this month, the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC], issued a statement denouncing Iran’s “flagrant infringement against the sovereignty and independence of GCC states” adding “this is in disharmony with the principles of good neighbourliness, as well as international and Islamic norms and laws.”