Gulf Arab hit Iranian meddling
Iran rejected accusations from Gulf Arab states that it was meddling in their affairs, saying those countries were "running away from reality", an Iranian news agency reported on Wednesday.
Six U.S.-allied states demanded Iran end what they called interference in the region, in a statement on Tuesday at the end of a two-day summit of the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), reiterating a long-held mistrust of their main rival.
The communique did not elaborate, but the most common Gulf Arab complaint relates to Bahrain, which has repeatedly accused Tehran of interference in its internal politics by provoking protests.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast dismissed the statement. "Shifting the responsibility for the domestic problems of the regional countries is a way of running away from reality, and blaming others or using oppressive methods are not the right ways to answer civil demands," he said, according to the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA).
The oil-producing GCC states wield influence out of proportion to their sparse populations due in part to global energy and investment links, generous international aid and Saudi Arabia's role as home to Islam's two holiest sites.
Iran sees the Gulf as its own backyard and believes it has a legitimate interest in expanding its influence there.
In Manama, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Khalifa told reporters on Tuesday that Iran posed a "very serious threat".
"Politically, (there is) lots of meddling in the affairs of GCC states; an environmental threat to our region from the technology used inside nuclear facilities; and there is of course the looming nuclear programme," he said, referring to Iran's disputed atomic work.
...Theses Gulf states have as much to lose from an Iranian nuclear program as Israel because Iran would use the threat of attack as a way to get hegemony over the region. The gulf Arabs are right to be worried about Iran and also worried about the weak US response to Iran's program. It is clear that the sanctions regime is not going to stop the religious bigots in Iran. Russia and China are giving the country enough backing to keep more critical sanctions from being put in place and that is going to eventually lead to war.