Iran Snubs The Bahrain-Saudi Arabia Union
Iran summoned on Friday Bahrain ambassador in Tehran after the foreign minister of the tiny island nation accused the Islamic republic of meddling in its internal affairs. The move comes after the Bahraini Foreign Ministry warned Iran not to interfere in the proposed plan of union between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Iran retorted that it did not meddle in the affairs of the small monarchy and expressed hopes that the developments in this country would find a solution, adding that the only viable solution would be to heed to the needs of the people in Bahrain, who staged a series of protests last year, during the Arab League, and were quieted by an intervention of the Gulf states, led by the Saudi Arabian military.
Iran reacted against a plan of union between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which is seen as a first stage in a larger plan to unite all six Arab monarchies in the Persian Gulf. The Gulf Arab leaders gathered on Monday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to create a union of the monarchies in the Persian Gulf, as demanded by the people living in the countries that are now gathered within the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Thus, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are expected to turn GCC into a union which will have them remaining members of the United Nations and conserving national sovereignty but with common foreign relations, security, military and economy.
It is considered that the union would comprise for the moment two or three of the six kingdoms, while the rest still have their hesitations about this union. The union was first spoken of by Saudi Arabian king Abdullah last December, and the Bahraini State Minister for Information Samira Rajab added that it would be something like European Union, though the exact nature of the agreement was not made public.
The first states to accept this union were expected on Monday to be Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, with Kuwait joining after that. United Arab Emirates and Oman did not participate in Riyadh, but are expected to join.
However, at the end of the day the union was announced between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, leaving the doors open for the rest of the monarchies in the Gulf to follow. According to sources quoted by RT News Kuwait, Oman and the UAE had “strongest objections” to the union.
The confederation, which is expected to comprise at this stage Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, is motivated by the increased influence of Iran in the area and the social movements caused by the Arab Spring, which has affected Bahrain last year.
The decision to create a confederation between this two states was criticized by the human rights activists, considering that Saudi Arabia is considered one of the countries with human rights observance problems, and by Iran, which has instructed the population in Bahrain to take to the streets and protest against the union, which triggered the reaction of the Bahraini Foreign Ministry.
Bahrain is a monarchy led by a Sunni royal house which reigns over a country with Shiite population, which makes vulnerable to the decision of accepting the union, as the Shiite leaders of the countries have already said that any union must become subject to a referendum.
Shiite opposition leader Ali Salman said that the royal family al-Khalifa had no right to decide on the fate of the country, and that only the people should express through a referendum with any other country.
Iranian Members of the Parliament said that the decision to make this “unwise union” would only strengthen the rejection by the population of the foreign occupation, referring to the military forces which were brought last year to Bahrain to put down the unrest in Bahrain.
Analysts consider that the Saudi Arabian leaders are taking their chance, because absorbing Bahrain into Saudi Arabia would mean that the Shiite population of Bahrain would link with the Shiite minority in Saudi Arabia, which could create problems to the leaders of the monarchy.
In a letter of the parliament in Tehran it is said that by the union between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia the crisis in Bahrain would be transferred to Saudi Arabia, thus plunging the entire region in insecurity.
Iran has strongly opposed last year against the deployment of forces in the small country, urging the royal family to heed to the needs of the people of Bahrain, which demanded reforms and the tackling of corruption.
Iran has deemed the conference in Riyadh as “American plan to annex Bahrain to Saudi Arabia,” while Bahraini Foreign Ministry called the attitude of Iran “Iranian interference in the affairs of the kingdom.”
According to a Middle East affairs expert, turning Bahrain into a democratic regime could be done, if there was political consensus, but a democratic regime could ask the American Fifth Fleet to leave the small kingdom, which is why, the expert said, America allows the despotism in the kingdom.
Bahrain is the base of the American Fifth Fleet, which is patrolling the Persian Gulf, and the union with Saudi Arabia is seen as a strengthening of the position of the American army in the area in view of a possible war with Iran.
Gulf Cooperation Council was formed in 1981 by Sunni-dominated monarchies and the aim was to increase their security following the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979.
The decision to push the cooperation within the Gulf Cooperation Council to a more profound union between states comes at a time when the American administration has decided to resume arms sales to Bahrain, a move that was criticized by the international community.
In Bahrain, the opposition protested last Saturday by burning tires, clashing with the police and demanding the release of the opposition leaders imprisoned. Bahraini officials have pledged to crush all “unauthorized movements.”
The move to create a closer union should be taken with grain of salt because previous attempts to create a monetary union have faltered, and there are other differences between the states. Qatar and Oman, Daily Star reports, have good ties with Iran. Saudi Arabia had objected to a bridge project between Oman and Bahrain. Saudi Arabia and UAE have suspicions regarding Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, whose affiliates operate in the open in Bahrain and Kuwait.
The visit of the Iranian president to Bahrain last month fueled the fear that the Islamic regime in Tehran may seek to gain control over the tiny state, in a bid to push the American power out of the Gulf.
While Iran said that the Saudi Arabian kingdom was seeking a way to legally occupy Bahrain, and that it would want to exclude Shiite people from political life, the Bahraini prime minister spoke of it as of a dream of the nations in the region to see the borders erased and a unique Gulf state established.
The sensitive situation in the Gulf, where Iran and the Arab states are disputing the economic supremacy in the Gulf reached Google, as the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced that Google would be sued unless it corrected its naming the Persian Gulf as “Arabian Gulf.”11