Iran should mend ties with neighbours, engage in practical action

November 8, 2013

Iran should give priority to mending its relations with its neighbours, Bahrain’s foreign minister has said.

In comments about the rapprochement between Iran and the US, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa said that it did not surprise him.

“Matters evolve and the 5+1 countries [the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany] have been holding talks with Iran over its nuclear issue,” Shaikh Khalid said.

“This rapprochement is still within the talks. The US-Iran dispute since the end of the 1970s until today has not served the region; in fact, it has compounded the situation and led Iran to engage in activities that have harmed the region.

“Fixing the relations between Iran and the United States could result in stability for the region. However, if the positive changes are related to the region, the top priority for Iran is not to fix its relations with the US, but rather with the neighbouring countries because neighbours are the ones who stand with you in a crisis,” Shaikh Khalid said in an interview published by Kuwaiti daily Al Kuwaitiya on Thursday.

The foreign minister said that he had been asked if the US Fifth Fleet that is stationed in Bahrain was a threat to Iran.

“My answer is that the ships are not a threat to Iran. In fact, I wish that the Iranian Navy would be a component of the huge fleet in the region that does not make a difference between our Gulf and the Gulf of Aden. This is a multinational operation and we are part of the international community. Iran should be an active member of the global community, particularly with its neighbours,” he said.

The US and 28 other countries are part of a multinational naval partnership in the region to promote security, stability and prosperity across approximately 2.5 million square miles of international waters that encompass some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.

Relations between Bahrain and Iran plummeted in 2011 amid accusations by Manama that Tehran interfered in its domestic affairs during and after the events that occurred in the kingdom in February and March 2011. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of which Bahrain is a member alongside Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, condemned the Iranian interference.

Both Bahrain and Iran pulled out their ambassadors, but although Manama reinstated its envoy, Tehran is yet to send the head of its diplomatic mission back to the Bahraini capital.

Shaikh Khalid said that Bahrain was looking forward to concrete action from the Iranians to improve relations.

“There is a new leadership in Iran and contacts are continuing. I have met the Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York City and congratulated him on his appointment,” Shaikh Khalid said.

“However, we do look forward to a new and unambiguous language and to practical steps to improve relations, not only with Bahrain, but also with all the countries in the region. We tell the Iranians that we will take two steps for every step you take. They have announced a new page and this means a new language and practical steps. We welcome them.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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