Iran hits back at protest-hit Gulf states

2012-09-04 13:02
Bahraini Shi'ite Muslims chant slogans during a demonstration in solidarity with the political prisoners in the village of Belad al-Qadeem, in a suburb of Manama. (AFP, File)

Bahraini Shi'ite Muslims chant slogans during a demonstration in solidarity with the political prisoners in the village of Belad al-Qadeem, in a suburb of Manama. (AFP, File)

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Tehran - Gulf Arab states accusing Iran of meddling in their internal affairs are trying to deflect attention from civil movements protesting for more rights, Iran's foreign ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday.

"Repeating these claims will not change the realities in the region," Ramin Mehmanparast said in a statement relayed by Iranian media.

"These kinds of claims are old and have no use, and rather it is more about escaping responding to the social demands of the people than being based on realities," he said.

The Gulf Co-operation Council, which groups Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, on Sunday reiterated its allegation of Iranian "interference" in some of their internal issues.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have repeatedly claimed that Iran is involved in Shi'ite protests in their countries.

Saudi Arabia last year came to Bahrain's aid by sending troops to help in a deadly crackdown on Shi'ite-led pro-democracy demonstrations, and Riyadh is also grappling with Shi'ite unrest in its oil-rich Eastern Province.

The GCC also again voiced its backing of the UAE in a dispute with Iran over three Gulf islands claimed by both countries.

Mehmanparast dismissed the island issue, saying: "The islands of Abu Musa, and Greater and Lesser Tunbs are inseparable parts of the Islamic Republic of Iran and will remain forever Iranian."

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