Manama: Iran’s interference in Bahrain’s domestic affairs and stirring up of sectarian strife have been condemned by the Arab League council of foreign ministers.
The ministers in a resolution they passed during their meeting in Cairo on Tuesday also condemned Iran’s support for terrorism, training of terrorists and smuggling of weapons and explosives.
Tehran’s statements issued at various levels to undermine security, public order and stability and its formation of terrorist groups in Bahrain funded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and its terrorist affiliates “Asa’ib Ahl Al Haq” and Hezbollah were also condemned at the meeting.
The resolution also stressed the council’s “support of Bahrain in all the measures it takes to combat terrorism and the terrorist groups in order to maintain its security and stability.”
The designation of members of “Al Ashtar Bridges” in Bahrain as terrorists “reflects the determination of international community to fight all forms of terrorism at the regional and international levels and those who support it, incite it or sympathise with it”, the council said.
In August, the US designated Qassim Abdullah Ali Ahmad, known as Qassim Al Muamen, one of the Iran-based leaders of Al Ashtar Brigades (AAB) as a terrorist. In March 2017, two members of the brigade were also put on the list of terrorists.
Al Muamen has recruited “terrorists in Bahrain” and “facilitated training on weapons and explosives for Al Ashtar Brigades members and supplied them with funding, weapons, and explosives to carry out attacks,” the State Department statement said.
He had been identified as a key member of a plot by Al Ashtar Brigades to “assassinate prominent figures in Bahrain and target three oil pipelines.”
In July, the State Department designated Al Ashtar Brigades as a foreign terrorist organisation.
Al Ashtar Brigades claimed responsibility for numerous vicious attacks against innocent civilians, and security personnel, causing significant damage to public and private property.
Al Ashtar Brigades is among several militant groups that receive extensive support from Iran and its affiliated factions throughout the region. This support includes the funnelling of funding, weaponry and high-grade explosives, as well as the transfer of knowledge and training at Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) campsites. This has enabled Al Ashtar and similar groups to sustain themselves.
In December, the UK Parliament approved a government order proscribing Al Ashtar Brigades as a terrorist organisation.
Bahrain and Iran have no diplomatic relations after their ties plummeted to their lowest level in decades.
Manama accuses Tehran of blatant interference in its internal affairs and of failing to abide by the international norms of good neighbourliness.
Bahrain and the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — have agreed at their summit in Manama in December 2016 to convey an offer to Iran to start a strategic dialogue that would improve relations.
The GCC said Iran should end its interference in their domestic affairs and act like a good neighbour in order to move forward towards better ties and greater cooperation.
Kuwait’s Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah in January 2017 sent the offer to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani amid hopes Tehran would move towards healthier relations with its neighbours.
Tehran said it welcomed the idea of dialogue, but no positive tangible action followed.
Iran’s insistence on interfering in the domestic affairs of its neighbours, the crises resulting from taking opposite sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen, and the subsequent gravity of the tensions have ruled out any hope for a thaw that would allow
Earlier this year, Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister Khalid Al Jarallah said the GCC-Iran strategic dialogue was stalled, and would not resume until Tehran changed its attitudes.
“Kuwait has told the Iranians the resumption of the dialogue depends on Iran’s initiatives and commitment to natural relations with its neighbours,” he said. “As long as these requirements are not satisfactorily fulfilled, the dialogue is postponed.”
In their session on Tuesday, the Arab foreign ministers said they also supported Bahrain’s candidacies for several posts at the United Nations and its specialised agencies.
Bahrain is seeking membership on the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the Economic and Social Council for 2020-30, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law for 2020-’25, on the Economic and Social Council for 2021-23, and on the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund for 2020-22.