Bahrain's king accuses Iran of being behind Shi'ite uprising
Published 22/03/2011 | 05:00
Bahrain's king has accused Iran of being behind the Shi'ite uprising which has rocked the country.
While not naming Iran directly, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said in a thinly-veiled reference: "I here announce the failure of the fomented subversive plot against security and stability."
The king spoke to the commander of the Sunni Saudi-led Gulf force which moved into Bahrain last week and said its troops give strength and confidence. Iran has condemned the presence of the Gulf force and Shi'ites across the Middle East have been outraged by the deadly crackdown on protests that has killed at least 13 people.
The Bahrain opposition's main demand is for a constitutional monarchy that would keep the royal family in power but would let people elect a government.
Inspired by mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled the two countries' presidents, it rejects accusations of influence by the Shi'ite powerhouse across the Persian Gulf.
"We don't want Iranians to come. We don't want a big problem in this small country," senior opposition leader Ali Salman said, adding that the solution to the country's crisis had to come from its people.
The ferocity of last week's government crackdown, in which Bahrain called in Gulf troops, imposed martial law and drove protesters off the streets, has stunned majority Shi'ites, the main force behind the protests, and enraged Tehran. Iran, which supports Shi'ite groups in Iraq and Lebanon, has complained to the United Nations and asked neighbours to join it in urging Saudi Arabia to withdraw forces from Bahrain.