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Bahrain Accuses Hizbullah of Provoking Its Domestic Unrest

Bahrain tells UN that Iran-backed Hizbullah is trying to overthrow its government; Iran says Arab states "apartheid like" over Shi'a Islam
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 4/27/2011, 5:58 PM / Last Update: 4/27/2011, 10:00 PM

Bahrain says that Iranian-backed, Shiite Muslim Hizbullah is trying to overthrow its Sunni Muslim monarchy.

In an April 17 letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Khalifa said protests in his country had been “exacerbated by the active involvement of Hezbollah, a militia that operates freely in Lebanon outside any government control to conduct terrorist activities."

Khalifa, who previously characterized Hizbullah as a terror organization, said the "interference" included military training of Bahraini citizens in Hizbullah camps and "inflammatory and inciting statements" by its leaders. He also said Hizbullah meets with “Bahraini facilitators in order to draw strategies and operations.”

Terrorist acts in Bahrain have used the “same methods and tactics” as those known to be employed by Hizbullah, Sheikh Khalid said.

The letter, published Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal, also refered to logistical support for Hizbullah's destabilization efforts in Bahrain by “some foreign countries.” Though not specifically identified, Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Issa Al Khalifa has accused opposition leaders of colluding with Shiite-ruled Iran in “subversive designs.”

Bahrain has been riding the wave of upheaval from massive protests staged by the Shi'a community against the Sunni al-Khalifa ruling family. Protestors are calling for increased freedom and the transition to a constitutional, rather than absolute, monarchy.

In response to the protests the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) sent troops from its Peninsula Shield force to restore order. The GCC group comprises Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The GCC and Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Saad Hariri, have criticized Iran’s interference in the affairs of Gulf Arab states.

“This Iranian policy is not acceptable anymore,” Hariri told reporters in Beirut on April 7. “The gradual abduction of the Arab societies under any slogan will not be in the interest of Iran or Arab-Iranian relations.”

For its part, the GCC has warned "outsiders" to stay out of its member's domestic politics and is discussing the creation of a military and diplomatic confederation to serve as a bulwark against Iran, who it believes is using Shia communities throughout the Arab world to stir up the unrest that has rocked the region.

Yesterday Bahrain ordered Iranian diplomat Heget Elah Rahmani to leave the country in 72 hours over alleged ties to an Iranian spy network uncovered in Kuwait, the official Bahrain News Agency said.

Another Iranian spy ring has also been uncovered in Bahrain.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi sent his own letter to Ban on April 15 saying his government was concerned about “apartheid-like” discrimination of the Shiite minority and repression of protests.