Iran has warned Saudi Arabia to pull its troops out of Bahrain.
According to the Associated Press, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has asked the Saudis to withdraw the soldiers it had dispatched last month into Bahrain to quell an uprising by Shia demonstrators.
Iran is a Shia-dominated regional power, while Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are ruled by Sunni Muslims. However, in Bahrain, most of the population is Shias who are dominated by a Sunni elite.
The Shias has long complained of discrimination by the powerful Sunnis and now are incensed over the Bahrain government’s attempts to tilt the demographic balance by importing more Sunni Muslims into its police force and military.
The Saudis did an ugly thing to deploy troops ... the Bahraini government also did an ugly work to kill its own people, Ahmadinejad said at a press conference in Tehran.
The Iranian leaders comments came one day after the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) -- the six-member bloc of regional Arab states, which include Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as members -condemned what it called Iran’s attempts to aggravate sectarian tension in Bahrain.
At an emergency meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the GCC expressed its concerns over the continuing Iranian intervention in the internal matters of GCC countries by conspiring against their national security.
Many Gulf Arabs believe Iran is behind the unrest in Bahrain, which so far has killed a few dozen people and led to a state of emergency in the tiny kingdom. Saudi Arabia is particularly worried about its own Shia population, who live largely in the oil-rich eastern part of the kingdom.
Ahmadinejad shrugged off the GCC statements.
We attach no legal value to this statement. It's evident that this statement was made under pressure from the U.S. and its allies, he said.
For good measure, Ahmadinejad also attacked U.S. President Barack Obama's time in office has been disgraceful.
I promise with certainty that the American administration today is more disgraceful than the previous administration. The U.S. and its plans are doomed to fail, he said.
Bahrain is a key US ally in the region and his home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet. The Obama administration has asked Bahrain’s leader to agree to some reforms demanded by the opposition.