Manama: Diplomatic tensions have grown between Bahrain and Iraq after prominent Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al Sadr called for halting wars in several Arab countries and named Bahrain as one of them.
The Bahraini Foreign Ministry summoned the Iraqi charge d’affaires in Manama and conveyed to him the kingdom’s extreme protest against Al Sadr’s “flagrant interference” in Bahrain’s affairs”, the official Bahraini news agency reported.
In a statement released on Saturday, Al Sadr, a firebrand cleric, called for an immediate halt to “war in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria”, and their rulers’ resignation.
“This constitutes a rejected affront to the Kingdom of Bahrain and its leadership,” the Bahraini Foreign Ministry said in a comment.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa also lashed out at Al Sadr’s call. “Moqtada expresses concern about increasing interference in the Iraqi affairs. [But] instead of diagnosing Iraq’s wound by addressing his talk to the Iranian regime that controls his country, he safely opted to direct his talk to Bahrain. May God help Iraq [from] domineering fools,” the Bahraini minister said in a tweet.
The tweet drew criticism from Baghdad. “The Bahraini foreign minister’s words insult Moqtada Al Sadr. They even insult Iraq, its sovereignty and independence especially when the Bahraini minister talks about Iraq’s fall to control of neighbouring Iran,” the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Al Sadr’s political alliance made big gains in Iraq’s parliamentary elections held in May last year. In his controversial statement, he also called for closing the US embassy in Baghdad if Iraq is dragged in an escalating row between Washington and Iran.