Gulf Nations Need to Beware of Iran

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Iran has harassed and brow-beaten the Gulf Arab countries down the decades and tried to assert its hegemony over them in devious ways. The dossier of its misdeeds is well annotated from the occupation of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs belonging to the UAE, a string of terrorist acts perpetrated in Saudi Arabia over the years, espionage and promotion of disruptive activities in Kuwait and constant efforts to keep anti-national and terrorist forces propped up in Bahrain on the strength of cash and guns.

These efforts have become more daring and widespread ever since Iran signed and sealed the nuclear accord with the West. To indulge in proxy wars to ensure it could not be unmasked as the real force behind such nefarious activities, it is also known to be training and subsidizing thugs and gunmen in Iraq. Hezbollah in Lebanon survives solely on the strength of sustenance provided by Iran. Thus, it can commit a daring and dangerous deed either on its own or through its criminal protégés.

On top of that, the last month seems to have been an open season for terrorists across the globe whether it be Bangladesh, France, Turkey, the US or Germany. It is not surprising that the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries put their heads together this week to discuss their concerns and chalk out a strategy to stem Tehran.

But among all the six GCC countries Bahrain has most to be alarmed about at the Iran strides. It has suffered due to the constant barrage of disruptive and terrorist acts of Iran-backed cells, clerics and other elements. While the trial of one of its leading mouthpieces, Al Wefaq Islamic Society chief Ali Salman, resulted in his being sent to jail for nine years for seeking regime change, its spiritual leader Isa Qassim’s trial, after being stripped of his nationality, has just begun.

Joint EU - GCC
Joint EU – GCC

But the menace goes deeper as evidenced by the trial, which opens next month, of no less than 138 suspects – members of a confusingly-titled terror cell called Dhu Al Faqqar Brigades, believed to be behind a spate of attacks in Bahrain. Of the 138 accused, 52 are still on the run. The outfit is backed by the Iranian regime and its members trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

The laundry list of their misdemeanours is quite long and colourful. Among other things, they are accused of forming and managing a terror cell, carrying out explosions, providing training in using weapons and explosives, assaulting and trying to kill police personnel, planting fake bombs in public places, illegal assembly, conspiring with a foreign state, damaging public and private property and throwing Molotov cocktails. Some of them also joined other thugs in Bahrain to create a “united terror organization” to abort Bahrain police efforts to hunt down terrorists.

One can imagine the dilemma of a tiny island kingdom being terrorized by a large state facing it right across the seas. In normal circumstances one would expect the United Nations and the West, notably the US, the UK and France, to take note and put pressure on Iran to mend its ways and at the same time stand by the actions taken by Bahrain to protect its sovereignty.

But quite the contrary, dubious human rights organisations based in the countries which are supposed to support Bahrain continue to badger it, refusing to appreciate how it is implementing all the recommendations of an independent international inquiry panel, while the West sits smugly out there merely staring at Iran, without raising its voice, now that the latter has given it the nuclear promise it wanted.

Brij Sharma is an Indian journalist and editor based in Bahrain. Brij tells us the interesting stories we don’t usually hear from the middle east country.