Iran urges Bahrain to heed people`s demands

Iran insisted nothing could justify Saudi intervention in the Gulf kingdom.

Updated: Apr 24, 2011, 10:57 AM IST

Tehran: Iran on Saturday urged Bahrain to heed the demands of its people before it was too late, and insisted nothing could justify Saudi intervention amid Shi’ite-led protests in the Gulf kingdom.

"The government of Bahrain should put an end to this crisis and meet the legitimate rights of its people before it is too late," Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in remarks broadcast and translated into English by Iran`s Press TV channel.

The Islamic republic, which vocally supports uprisings that have swept the Arab world, has strongly condemned a violent crackdown against the Shi’ite-led protesters in Sunni-ruled Bahrain.

Bahrain and other Gulf Cooperation Council member states have accused predominantly Shi’ite Iran of plotting against its security and of fanning confessional discord among its citizens.

On Monday, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa said Saudi-led GCC troops had entered his country "to deter an external threat”, a reference to Iran.

"We wrote a letter to the secretary general of the United Nations, and in that letter we have a full attachment on the threats and all the evidence we have against Iran and (the Lebanese Shiite movement) Hezbollah," he said.

Salehi rejected the accusations of Iranian interference and said his country had always respected "the independence and territorial sovereignty" of Bahrain.

But he went on to say that Bahrainis should have the "right to exercise their civil rights, like any other citizen in the region."

Tensions between Iran and its Gulf Arab neighbours have heightened as Tehran accuses Riyadh of destabilising the region by dispatching its troops into Bahrain to deal with the pro-democracy revolt at the appeal of its monarch.

Salehi said even the Gulf`s Shield Force agreement, which was formed to respond to military aggression against GCC members, provided "no justification" for the Saudi military involvement.

He also warned Arab kingdoms against underestimating the popular revolts.

"Do not lose your path and do not go in the wrong direction. Do not think that you will achieve your goal if you manage to stifle the sound of justice-seekers," Press TV quoted Salehi as saying.

"The nations who have revolted will not be easily suppressed. Sooner or later, they will achieve their goals," he said.

Bureau Report