Skip to comments.Bahrain Gains Support in Row Over Iran's Claims on It
Posted on 02/19/2009 1:03:26 PM PST by nickcarraway
Iran is trying to defuse a potential crisis with Bahrain and other Arab states after the tiny kingdom received a wave of support and assurances that it would not be left alone to face potential Iranian threats against its sovereignty.
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi on Thursday downplayed the implications of official statements and newspaper commentaries coming out of Iran that said Bahrain had once been part of Iranian territory. But that does not seem to be enough.
"Our position on Bahrain is clear," Ghashghavi told the Arabic-language Iranian Al-Alam TV. "We have repeatedly said we respect the sovereignty and independence of all neighboring countries and the region, especially Bahrain. We don't have eyes on any country."
But Bahrain is not convinced that Iran intends to respect its independence and sovereignty, after a prominent Iranian official close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Arab Gulf country was "our 14th province and had a representative at the parliament."
In a Feb. 11 speech marking the Islamic revolution, which ousted Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi from power, the inspector-general at Iran's expediency council, Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri, said that under "this useless king, one of our provinces, which has now become a country named Bahrain, was taken away from us."
The issue did not stop there. It was followed by Iranian newspaper commentaries, some written by people close to the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, repeating a concept that Bahrain saw resembling a historic claim to the kingdom.
Ghashghavi denied that Nouri was speaking about modern-day Bahrain in that speech, saying the man "talked about the achievements of the Islamic revolution and compared them to the era of the hated monarchy. He did not talk at all about current global, regional and political issues."
Although it was not the first time that Iranian diplomats assured Bahrain of their respect for its sovereignty, Manama strongly protested against such repeated statements and asked they be revoked.
On Wednesday, Bahrain said it was stopping negotiations with Iran over the yearly import of 1 billion cubic feet of Iranian gas. Reports said a delegation from Bahrain's National Oil and Gas Authority left Iran in mid-negotiations because of the Iranian "threats."
Quickly jumping to Bahrain's defense were the 22-member Arab League and the six-member Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), of which Bahrain is a member, as they swiftly issued statements condemning such remarks from Tehran, saying they were provocative and blocked efforts to ease tense Arab-Iranian relations.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Iran's Arab arch-foe, paid a solidarity visit to Manama on Monday, as did Jordan's King Abdullah II on Wednesday, during which they told Bahrain's King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa they fully backed him in the face of potential Iranian threats.
Powerhouse Saudi Arabia also condemned what it said were "hostile and irresponsible comments that continuously repeat claims to Bahraini soil," adding they were "an attempt to defy historical and geographic facts, and are a brazen breach of the sovereignty of a member of the GCC and Arab League."
Also coming to Bahrain's support were Turkey and Russia, whose foreign ministers were in Manama on Thursday. In separate press conferences, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan said that Bahrain's international legitimacy and sovereignty must not be questioned.
Analysts say that Bahrain needs the strong official support it is receiving due to a number of geographic, demographic and political factors.
For one, they say, Bahrain's area is tiny and Iranian "muscle-flexing" threats against it should not be taken lightly, even if Tehran's policy at this stage probably entails making friends, rather than enemies, amid talk of possible U.S.-Iranian dialogue to resolve differences that would ease regional tension. The fact that Bahrain hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet to secure the Strait of Hormuz through which much of the world's oil passes is enough to avoid a confrontation.
However, Sunni-ruled Bahrain has a Shiite majority that is increasingly calling for their rights. One Arab diplomat told the Middle East Times that the region is trying to prevent this small Gulf state from turning into another flash point in Arab-Iranian polarization.
The U.S.-allied Arab regimes, struggling against Iran's influence in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, see Bahrain as an easy Iranian target to "interfere in a destructive manner," according to a diplomat.
Arab commentators say that the timing of such Iranian statements about Bahrain could be construed as Tehran expressing its support for the kingdom's Shiites, where the government has recently cracked down on some of its prominent rights advocates, sparking riots.
In late January, clashes erupted in a village outside Manama between security forces and demonstrators protesting the arrest of Shiite opposition activists on "terrorism" charges and "plotting to overthrow the regime."
Also earlier this month, thousands of Bahraini Shiites peacefully protested against the kingdom's citizenship law, which they say is naturalizing large numbers of Sunnis to alter the sectarian balance.
Bahrain, however, does not want the massive diplomatic backing it is receiving to provoke Tehran into exercising its interference in the kingdom's fragile situation. Its foreign minister, Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa, said Thursday that while his country will "no longer accept statements questioning Bahrain's sovereignty, we don't want to confront Iran or cause it any harm, we want good relations with them."
If Iranian leaders want to confirm they are not indeed issuing veiled threats to Bahrain, Arab diplomats say, they should do more than reiterate their respect for its sovereignty and independence by specifically stating that what Nouri and others have said is simply against Iran's policy. Otherwise, the row might turn into a full-fledged crisis.
Quickly jumping to Bahrain's defense were the 22-member Arab League and the six-member Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ...
Arabs will always ban together in the face of a Persian attack.
The situation is like the Iraqi - Kuwaiti situation before Iraq invaded Kuwait, resulting in Operation Desert Storm. If Iran invade Kuwait well have even more support from Arab countries than we had then.
I support Greece’s claim to Iran due to it being part of the Macedonian Empire.
“If Iran invade Kuwait well have even more support from Arab countries than we had then.”
Iran is emboldened by the weak US president.
Consider this a “proof of concept”. Checking the reaction to aggression. Once Iran has nukes, it will be game on.
So I guess they will start liking us again!
Heres the deal, you want protection from Iran. Make peace with Israel.
So Iran goes in to reclaim their historical territory.
The world comes together to throw the dogs out.
Seems I’ve heard of this crap before.
Now stop it,
I don’t care to give my farm back to the indians.
What are the odds that The One will do anything about Irans nukes?
“What are the odds that The One will do anything about Irans nukes?”
There’s a better chance of the Browns winning the Superbowl!
Along those lines I support Greece's claims on Pakistan and the west cost of India too.
Theres a better chance of the Browns winning the “
Or the Lions winning the Superbowl.
Kuwait's full of US troops. Bases all over the place. Iran would be super-stupid to try anything like that right now.
Well in that case you can just use the Obama doctrine: “I won”.
“Or the Lions winning the Superbowl.”
Yep. Both organizations are pathetic.
Come on man. Obamma lamma is a community organizer.
He’ll easily be able to organize the world to any goal.
Scrape... Scrape... Scrape...
Sarge: “What the #$%^ is that?!”
Corporal: “Just sharpening my knife sarge...”
Sarge: “Get to it then.”
So I have a question: How long do you think it will take the 5th Fleet to put the Iranian Navy on the bottom this time?
A guy I work with was there in the 80’s the first time around and it was 2 hrs.
Well, this should piss off the Saudi’s, Bahrain is their personal playground.
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