Khamenei says Iran won't intervene in Bahrain despite tensions
Supreme leader warns against growing risk of internal conflict. Violence caused by the (Sunni) kingdom’s treatment of its Shiite majority population. Bahrain and its ally Saudi Arabia frequently accuse Iran of fomenting unrest. Charges Tehran firmly denies while criticizing the repressive actions of the Sunni monarchy.
Teheran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Iran will not intervene in Bahrain despite a growing risk of internal conflict caused by the (Sunni) kingdom’s treatment of its Shiite majority population, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran will not intervene in any way in the affairs of Bahrain," Khamenei told a gathering of top officials to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in remarks carried on his official website.
"But if political wisdom exists in this country (Bahrain), they should not allow the political conflict to transform into a civil war," he added.
Bahrain and its ally Saudi Arabia frequently accuse Iran, the region's predominant Shiite power, of fomenting unrest in the tiny kingdom, which Tehran firmly denies. But Iran has strongly criticized the repressive actions of the Sunni monarchy in Bahrain.
There has been mounting international criticism of Bahrain, which stepped up moves to dissolve the main Shiite opposition bloc last month. Even the United States, a close ally, condemned the action against Sheikh Isa Qassim, saying it was "deeply troubled by the government of Bahrain's practice of withdrawing the nationality of its citizens arbitrarily."
Bahrain is a Gulf monarchy ruled by a Sunni dynasty in a country where the majority of the population (at least 60-70%) is Shia and want constitutional changes and social and economic rights.
In 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring, riots broke out that the king of Bahrain – a US ally supported by Riyadh – put down with Saudi military aid.
In recent weeks, the authorities have arrested and sentenced Shia activists and religious leaders and suspended the activities of Al-Wefaq, the main Shia opposition group, on charges of terrorism, extremism and violence as well as ties to a foreign power (i.e. Iran).
The new confrontation between Iran and a Gulf monarchy – combined with religious, political, and diplomatic tensions between Riyadh and Tehran – is a source of major concern in the West, especially the United States.