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Iran and Bahrain trade barbs over spying scandal

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-04-26

Bahrain has ordered a top Iranian embassy official to leave the country over his alleged connections to a Kuwaiti spy ring. Iran said Tuesday it reserves the right to take similar action.

AFP - Bahrain has ordered the expulsion of a top Iranian diplomat in Manama over his alleged links to a Kuwaiti spy ring, ratcheting up already simmering tension between the Gulf neighbours.

Bahrain's state news agency BNA reported that the Gulf Arab state has declared the second secretary in the Iranian embassy persona non grata and ordered him to leave within 72 hours.

It named the official as Hujatullah Rahmani and said Iran's charge d'affaires in Bahrain was summoned on Monday to the foreign ministry where the decision had been conveyed to him.

Iran said it reserves the right of a "reciprocal reaction" to the expulsion.

"The action taken by the Bahrain foreign ministry aims to divert attention and neglect the realities... these kinds of baseless accusations are contrary to good neighbourly relations... and are in line with the divisive intention of foreigners," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying on the state television's website Tuesday.

Bahrain's foreign ministry had on Monday affirmed its "rejection of any interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)" -- comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- the BNA report said.

It also urged the Islamic republic to "end its irresponsible actions, which constitute a grave violation of the norms and principles governing international relations and a threat to regional security and stability."

Earlier this month, Iranian state television said three of Tehran's diplomats and an embassy employee were expelled from Kuwait for alleged links to a spy ring working for Tehran, reportedly ever since the US invasion of Iraq.

Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah later charged that the diplomats had proven links to a suspected spy ring, three members of which a Kuwaiti court condemned to death on March 29.

The expulsions come during heightened tensions between Gulf Arab states and their Iranian neighbour across the water. In addition to Kuwaiti allegations of Iranian spying, Bahrain has also accused Iran of meddling in its affairs.

The March 14 intervention of a Saudi-led Gulf force in Bahrain, which freed up the tiny Sunni-ruled kingdom's security forces to crush a Shiite-led pro-democracy protest movement, sparked a war of words between Iran and its Arab neighbours.

Iran, predominantly a Shiite nation, said on Friday it gives "moral support" to the demands of Bahrain's people but without any involvement in the protests in its Arab Gulf neighbour.

A joint GCC-European Union statement issued in Abu Dhabi last week said the two blocs played up "the importance of respect for the sovereignty of GCC members" and "recognised the GCC is entitled to take all necessary measures to protect their citizens."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on April 18 accused the United States of wanting to create tension between Iran and Arabs.

"America and its allies are trying to create an Iranian-Arab tension, they seek to sow discord among Shiites and Sunnis... but their plan will fail," the hardliner said at Iran's annual Army Day parade.
 

Date created : 2011-04-26

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