Pro-reform protesters march along Budaiya Highway, north of Manama, on Friday. Thousands of Bahrainis answered the call by leading opposition groups and marched to demand the release of political prisoners and the introduction of reforms. Image Credit: EPA

Manama: Arab Parliament Speaker Ali Salem Al Daqbasi has urged Iran to stop interfering in the domestic affairs of Arab countries.

In a statement on Saturday, the Speaker said that Iran stoked sectarianism in Arab countries to undermine their security and stability in a bid to deflect attention off its nuclear programme and its deteriorating local situation.

“Iran’s escalation of its threats to the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] countries following the busting of a pro-Tehran espionage network, the issuing of rulings by Kuwait’s appeal court against a group of Iranians charged with spying for Iran, the relentless onslaught by Iran on the proposed Gulf union, especially between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the order to a telcom operator to extend its network to cover Abu Mousa [one of the occupied UAE islands] and other islands in the Arabian Gulf, the supply of weapons to the Syrian regime against the popular revolt and Iran’s interference in Libya’s domestic affairs are part of a policy to alleviate the pressure of the international community and the problems it suffers internally,” Al Daqbasi said.

However, the parliament speaker said that the policy was doomed.

“All the Iranian provocations and the escalation of the situation will not achieve the goals the regime in Tehran has set to erode stability and undermine peace in the Arab countries,” he said.

“Iran in fact should respond positively to calls to ensure that its relations with the Arab countries should be based on good neighbourliness, mutual respect and non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries,” he said.

Tehran will gain a lot by respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Arab countries, reinforcing constructive cooperation and helping to achieve security and stability in the region, he said.

Belligerent attitude

Al Daqbasi has repeatedly called upon Iran to improve its relations with Arab countries, especially in the Gulf, and to avoid adopting a belligerent attitude that threatens stability and security.

Last month, he told Iraqi daily Azzaman that he was shocked by the duplicity of the Iranian position.

“I see a paradox with the Iranians. They are talking about cooperation with the Arab world, but at the same time, they interfere in the domestic affairs of Arab countries. I believe that the statements made by Iranian officials undermine every serious endeavour to build bridges of confidence and cooperation between us and the Arabs,” he said.

Relations between several Arab capitals and Tehran have reached their lowest levels in years.

Bahrain has complained about direct interference by the Iranian regime in its internal affairs after Iranian officials made remarks about the situation in the country in the wake of months of unrest that Manama deemed inappropriate and antagonistic.

Saudi Arabia has also charged Iran of attempting to interfere in its internal affairs.