Dubai: Gulf states have expressed strong support to Bahrain amid threats by Iran about an “Islamic revolution” in the country following the kingdom’s stripping of a prominent Shiite cleric’s citizenship.
Saudi Arabia has lent its full support to the measures taken by Bahrain, saying they were meant to fight terrorism and preserve stability.
The Saudi cabinet, holding a regular weekly session chaired by King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz in Jeddah, stressed the kingdom’s support for “all the judicial efforts made by Bahrain to fight extremism and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and the measures taken to preserve the security, stability and safety of its citizens and to safeguard Bahrain’s unity and social cohesion,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Saudi Arabia has been a strong backer of Manama and repeatedly accused arch-rival Iran of meddling in Bahraini affairs.
There was no immediate indication of Shaikh Eissa Qassim’s fate but, in theory, he would be left stateless and could face deportation through a legal process.
Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards on Tuesday condemned Bahrain’s decision to revoke Qassim’s citizenship, saying the move would encourage a rebellion in the country.
“There is no doubt that the unwise decision... against the top Shiite cleric would add to the flame of an Islamic revolution movement in Bahrain and will form a devastating rebellion against the dependent rulers of this country,” the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said in a statement published by Fars news agency.
The Iranian threats raised the eyebrows among analysts in the Gulf, who stressed that Tehran has no right to meddle in the internal affairs of other countries.
“First of all, Iran has no right at all to interfere in any internal affairs to any Arab or non-Arab country, because what is happening in those countries are sovereign issues and not the business of any other party under any religious, ethnic or social pretext,” stressed Qatari political scientist Mohammad Saleh Al Misfer.
Other Arab analsysts said that head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards General Qassem Sulaimani’s warning to Bahrain suggests there could be armed resistance across the country.
“Sulaimani’s statement reflects the continuity of expansionist Iranian strategy in the region. Whether reformers or conservatives, the regional issues are actually in the hands of the Revolutionary guards,” said Khalid Al Ferm, a Riyadh-based Saudi academic who heads a strategic studies centre.
Iran’s boldness is the direct result of of the nuclear agreement with the US and other western powers, analysts said.
While some Arab analysts said the Iranian warnings should be discussed at the highest Gulf, Arab and international gatherings, US officials said they were “deeply troubled” by the Bahraini move.
“In principle, I am not with revoking the citizenship of any citizen... Revoking citizenships of people from their homelands is a big problem and has dangerous ramifications,” said Al Misfer. “Dealing with opposition figures should be according to the internal laws and regulations of countries.”
Yet, the Iranian threats are unjustifiable, and needs a firm stance by the GCC to put an end to the continuous Iranian interference in the Arab affairs, added Al Misfer.
“We are in a difficult situation and the decision makers in the Arab world need to take a clear position and say to Iran it won’t be allowed to play in this [Arab] ground in any form,” said Al Misfer.
“We need a unified strategy among all Arab Gulf States,” added Al Ferm.
“We need new strategies, a unified and united position towards Iran,” he added.
— with inputs from agencies