Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] Secretary-General Abdul Rahman al-Attiyah, said that the deployment of the Peninsula Shield Force into Bahraini territories is “not a ploy” as some people have claimed, and he stressed that this only occurred following a request from Manama.
In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman al-Attiyah defended the GCC member-states response to Bahrain’s request for the deployment of the Peninsula Shield Force, saying that this was in order to protect Bahraini national security on the ground, and denying that this represented military intervention.
He said “the arrival of the Peninsula Shield Force troops represents a natural step in terms of collective responsibility in maintaining the stability of GCC States, and this is based on the GCC Joint Defense Agreement.”
Responding to an official Iranian statement commenting on the situation in Bahrain, GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman al-Attiyah called on Tehran to stop interfering in the internal affairs of the 6 GCC member-states, stressing that the GCC States do not interfere in the internal affairs of any other countries, including Iran.
The GCC Secretary-General also called on the people of Bahrain not to give those who want to incite unrest and sectarianism the opportunity to do so,
Secretary-General al-Attiyah was also present in the meeting between Bahraini King Hamad Bin Isa al Khalifa, Bahrain’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim al-Thani, and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, which took place on Monday.
GCC Peninsula Shield Force troops began to arrive in Bahrain over the past two days, after the Bahraini opposition protest and civil disobedience movement began to intensify its operations. This is the first time that the joint-Gulf military forces have been needed to be deployed since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait 21 years ago.
The GCC Secretary-General described the arrival of the Peninsula Shield Force troops as “a natural step,” He also stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the GCC member-states had previously issued a statement confirming their support for dialogue as being the best way to solve problems, away from sectarian incitement or the use of force between people of the same country.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi – who previously said that improving Tehran’s relations with Riyadh was a priority – said that Tehran would not stand idly by in the face of any Saudi intervention in Bahrain.
Al-Attiyah comprehensively rejected this Iranian threat, and called on Tehran to stop interfering in Bahrain’s internal affairs.
The GCC Secretary-General also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we once again call for non-intervention in any country’s internal affairs, whether this is with regards to the Kingdom of Bahrain or any other GCC State, especially as our states do not interfere in the internal affairs of other states, but rather we focus on building good relations with all countries based upon mutual respect, including Iran.”
GCC Secretary-General Abdul Raman al-Attiyah also praised the efforts made by Bahraini monarch King Hamad Bin Isa al Khalifa and the reformative projects that he has led over the past 10 years.
GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman al-Attiyah also told Asharq Al-Awsat that he hopes that calm returns to the Bahraini streets in the near future. He also called on all the people of Bahrain to immediately respond to the call made by Bahraini Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifi to enter into a comprehensive national dialogue with the ruling regime which aims to achieve civil peace and protect the economic and cultural achievements made by the country, and to continue the process of political modernization and economic development.
The GCC Secretary-General also called on the people of Bahrain to respond to the national dialogue, and to prevent those who are seeking to sow discord amongst the people of Bahrain, which has always been a great example of social harmony and national cohesion.
As for those who have described the deployment of the GCC Peninsula Shield Force to Bahrain as being “intervention”, al-Attiyah said that “the entry of the GCC Peninsula Shield Force is not a ploy, but rather this is a response to a request made by a [GCC] member state…to protect its security and the regime according to the terms set forth in the GCC Joint Defense Agreement.”
The GCC States Foreign Ministers also issued a joint-statement at the conclusion of their meeting which took place in Riyadh on Thursday in which they warned against foreign intervention in the internal affairs of any GCC state. In this statement, the GCC said that it would confront any such intervention immediately and without hesitation.