West Needs to Rein-in Iran After N-Deal
It is no secret that the signing of the nuclear deal with the consortium of US and European countries has emboldened Iran. It had been living under the sanctions regime for a long time and suddenly the breath of fresh air and trade freedoms in the wake of the deal have made it swollen-headed. It somehow feels that with the West now in its ‘pocket,’ it can have its way with the Arab Gulf countries and the signatories to the deal will now look the other way.
Much as Iran would like to meddle in the politics of the Arab Gulf or GCC countries – and it occasionally does -its main focus of course remains Bahrain, where its men, agents, trained saboteurs and arms couriers continue to run amok and make every effort to disrupt normal life by whatever means they can. They have been doing this for many years but with the signing of the nuclear deal Iran, rightly or wrongly, has come to believe that its seditious and surreptitious activities in Bahrain would not be frowned upon by its former western detractors.
Iranian Arms Smuggling
It is in this context one has to see Iran’s aborted attempts to smuggle arms, ammunition and bomb-making material into Bahrain via the sea. Quite a few consignments have been caught and seized but much seems to have been sneaked in as well as is evident from the successive seizures of arms and explosives caches every now and then from abandoned buildings, secret store rooms or even places of worship.
As recently as the last week of September, authorities in Bahrain said they had uncovered a large stash of weapons and arrested a number of people suspected of having links with Iran and Iraq. The arms and explosives were discovered in a house in the mainly Shiite town of Nuwaidrat, south of the capital Manama. The cache included 1.5 tonnes of C4 explosives and other explosive material, as well as automatic rifles, pistols, and hand grenades, according to Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior. It also said several suspects were detained for allegedly having “links with Iran and Iraq.”
Oftentimes the material in such stashes has also been put to good use by Iran-controlled elements in Bahrain by causing explosions or attacking police with fatal consequences. In August. five people were arrested for links with Iran in connection with a bombing that killed two policemen.
Bahrain Recalls Ambassador To Iran
Since successive calls by Bahrain to Iranian leaders to desist from promoting such criminal activities on Bahraini soil and stop interfering in its affairs had fallen on deaf ears, Bahrain last week finally recalled its Ambassador to Iran Rashid Saad Al Dossary and considered Iranian Charge d’Affaires in Bahrain Reda Bebae as persona non-grata. It simultaneously also filed an official complaint to the UN Secretary-General against Iran.
According to Bahrain’s Shura Council [or parliamentary] foreign affairs, defence and national security committee, this had become a priority “after incessant threats by Iran’s leaders, its exportation of terrorism and extremist ideology, opening training camps to carry out attacks and smuggling weapons and explosives.” It also slammed the Iranian policy of inciting violence, terror and sectarianism.
Iran Exports Extremism As West Looks The Other Way
These are significant but nevertheless mild measures Bahrain alone could take to safeguard its interests and bring the nefarious activities of Iran to the attention of the United Nations and the world at large. Finally it is the responsibility of the West, which has the ability to pressure and punish Iran for its wayward behaviour, to step forward and condemn its actions.
While making calls to uphold democracy, the rule of law and non-interference in other countries’ affairs everywhere, nations such as the US, the UK, France, Germany and others cannot remain passive spectators to Iran’s covert activities in Bahrain just because they have now begun to cosy up to that country after their nuclear concerns have been addressed and the flow of oil from there looks imminent.