Salehi said during his maiden visit to the sultanate on Wednesday. “According to the GCC agreement, a joint Gulf military intervention is justified only in the eventuality of a member country being invaded by foreign military force.
That certainly is not the case in Bahrain,” Salehi said, adding, “Can we consider Bahrainis demanding their rights as a foreign attack which needs intervention from Peninsula Shield Force? No, and therefore the presence of foreign force in Bahrain is not justified.”
“We have requested Oman and Qatar to use their influence to resolve the crisis in Bahrain in a peaceful manner. We are hopeful that efforts by these countries will help in bringing an end to the crisis,” Salehi further said.
He stressed that the statements of some GCC officials hinting at Iranian intervention in Bahrain is unfounded. “Iran doesn’t believe in intervening in the internal affairs of any country including those overlooking the Gulf. What’s happening in Bahrain is their internal matter and nobody from outside should intervene,” Salehi asserted.
When Muscat Daily asked the Iranian Foreign Minister whether relations between Iran and the Gulf nations have strained following action against Shiite protesters in Bahrain, he said, “Iran’s relationship with Gulf nations is deep-rooted.
Of course, it is very normal for any relationship to go through ups and downs. We may have faced some misunderstandings vis-à-vis Bahrain and few other countries in the region but we would not let this interrupt our relationship.”
“We are trying very hard to remove these misunderstandings and to rebuild mutual confidence. All that we are asking for is a fair treatment of the people of Bahrain. We hope the government of Bahrain doesn’t complicate the situation further so that in the end nobody is able to resolve it,” Salehi added.
Taking a very different line on the protests in Syria, Salehi said, “The Syrian President (Bashar al Assad) has promised to meet some of the reasonable demands of the people. However, some groups are trying to incite rival factions to create unrest in the country.”
When pointed out the apparent contradiction in Iran’s position on Bahrain and Syria and also the Western criticism of Tehran’s crackdown on its own protesters, Salehi hit back saying, “We are 75mn people in Iran.
When people come in the streets in tens of millions celebrating the Iranian Revolution, nobody speaks about it. But when only a few people have some objections to certain political views, then the West starts making a big fuss about it.”
He said that such small protests are prevalent everywhere. “You have protests in the UK, you have protests in France and everywhere else. And if you are a democratic country, you have to agree that there will always be protests. However, one has to make a distinction between people’s movement demanding rational democratic rights and protests by fringe elements hell-bent upon destabilising the security of a nation.”
During his day-long visit, Salehi was granted an audience by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. He also held talks with H E Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs.
Salehi and H E Alawi discussed several issues of mutual interest including the recent Gulf-Central Asia Transport Corridor Agreement signed by Iran, Oman, Qatar, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. “I’m sure this agreement will offer the five nations opportunities to launch international transit services. It will also have a positive influence on the political and economic ties between these nations.”
With inputs from Mohammed al Belushi