Bahrain’s government has spoken out at what it called “blatant Iranian interference” in its internal affairs, following a month of anti-government protests that have left at least 13 dead.
In a statement carried by state-run Bahrain News Agency, the kingdom blasted the “barefaced interference” of Iran and called for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to “put an end” to the Islamic republic’s meddling.
Bahrain declared martial law on March 15 after troops from Saudi Arabia and the UAE arrived to help quell protests that have gripped the Gulf state for more than a month.
The army on March 19 demolished the 300ft monument on the Pearl Roundabout in Manama.
The junction had been home to a makeshift protest camp for protesters, many of whom come from the Shiite Muslim majority.
Iran was quick to condemn the arrival of soldiers, urging Bahrain not to allow what it called foreign interference in protests that have gripped the island for more than a month.
“Using other countries' military forces to oppress these demands is not the solution,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hossein Amir Abdollahian told the Fars news agency.
Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani on Sunday said Gulf states had betrayed the Bahraini people by sending in soldiers to quash unrest.
“The massacre of Bahraini people in this critical condition will be kept in the minds of the regional nations as a great betrayal,” Larijani said in an interview Sunday with al-Alam TV.
Iran has denied rumours that it is backing Shiite activists in the kingdom.
Analysts warned last week that the arrival of Gulf troops in Bahrain could prompt Iran to join the conflict, under the guise of offering protection to protesting Shi’ites in the kingdom.
“I think we are moving to a new chapter… It has the potential of pulling in Iran rhetorically as well as physically,” said Theodore Karasik of the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.
“It is the proxy war they [Iran and the Gulf states] have been having that has come through various cycles and is now coming to a head.”
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