Hizbullah denied yesterday it had given military training to Bahraini protesters who are demanding reforms in the tiny island kingdom, Gulf News reports.
The denial follows comments made by Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa during an interview with the pan-Arab Al Hayat newspaper on Wednesday. Al Khalifa asserted the Shiite Hizbullah movement in Lebanon, which he characterized as a terrorist organization, had trained Bahraini "elements" in Lebanon. Bahrain's Sunni-monarch rules over a 60% Shiite majority.
Last week Bahrain lodged a formal complaint to the Lebanese government over Iran-backed Hizbullah's offer of support for the largely Shiite opposition demonstrators in Bahrain. In a recent televised speech Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah offered support to Bahraini opposition, but did not specify what kind of help.
‘Cannot be silent'
"The accusation of training and attempting to give the issue of what is happening in Bahrain a military or security dimension," Hizbullah said in a statement, "Is something that we cannot be silent about."
"We have to affirm that our Bahraini brothers did not ask us for any military or security training on any day and we have not given any training of that kind," the statement said, adding that the group only gave its political and moral support for the protests.
Hizbullah denied having any operatives in Bahrain, saying, "Hizbullah does not have any cells in Bahrain, either composed of Bahrainis or any other nationalities."
Shiite-Sunni Tensions in Play
Hizbullah is widely regarded as an the [Shiite] Islamic Repulic of Iran's proxy on the Mediterranean.
The Sunni-ruled six nation Gulf Cooperative Council has expressed deep concern over what it perceives to be Iranian directed Shiite machinations in the Persian Gulf.
Last week, Qatari naval personnel intercepted two Iranian boats laden with arms they say were headed for Bahrain.
Iran has previously referred to Bahrain as being "a part of Iran."