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Bahrain is Iran's 'Crown Jewel'

Bahrain's foreign minister says Iran sees the island kingdom as the crown jewel in its efforts to dominate the Persian Gulf.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 11/2/2011, 12:14 AM

Bahraini foreign minister Khaled bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa on Tuesday accused Iran of eying his nation as the "the crown jewel" in a campaign to dominate the Gulf, according to official Egyptian media outlet MENA.

Al-Khalifa called for Arab support in confronting the Mullahs in Shiite Tehran, whom he also accused of trying destabilize their Sunni neighbors in a quest to garner the support of Shiites worldwide for a theocratic government ruled by a supreme cleric.

"Today there is something called Wilayat al-Faqih in Iran, which it wants all Shiites around the world to emulate," he said of Iran's ruling ideology since its Islamic revolution in 1979.

Khalifa, who met his Iranian counterpart in New York last month, said he was not opposed to talks with Tehran, but to the fact that it continued to "meddle" in Arab affairs.

Bahrain's King Hamad has ordered a probe into his country's unrest, but tensions remain high in the tiny country although mass protests have subsided.

Bahrain's Sunni monarchy has clamped down on pro-democracy protests, spearheaded by majority Shiites, with the help of troops of other Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia.

"Iran always looks at Bahrain as the crown jewel," Khalifa said. "Gulf countries should not have to stand alone facing Iran, (other) Arab countries must be responsible, and Arab publics must pay attention to Iran's dangers, which come under a thousand guises. The threat is grave."

Khalifa, whose family's government is accused of cracking down on Shiites and discriminating against them after pro-democracy protests erupted in February, denied that the monarchy was sectarian.

The influence of the island kingdom's Gulf Cooperation Council ally Saudi Arabia, who recently forged a royal marriage with the Bahraini crown, cannot be underestimated in the country's future.

Much to the consternation of pro-reform Western powers it is conservative Saudi Arabia - who sent forces into Bahrain to stablalize the country when protests erupted - that will have the most influence on Baharain's future.