Bahrain declared a diplomat posted in the Iranian embassy in Manama persona non grata, and ordered him to leave within 72 hours due to his alleged links with a Kuwait spy ring, Bahrain’s official news agency reported on Tuesday.
The BNA report identified the official as Hujatullah Rahmani and said Iran’s charge d’affaires in Bahrain was summoned on Monday to the foreign ministry where the decision had been conveyed to him.
The Bahrain government said in a confidential report to the United Nations said the militant group Hezbollah, Iran’s ally, was actively plotting with the opposition in Bahrain to overthrow the country’s ruling family. Bahrain has long claimed that Iran and Hezbollah have sought to fuel instability in the nation.
According to Al Arabiya’s correspondent at UN headquarters in New York, the report says: “Evidence confirms that Bahraini elements are being trained in Hezbollah camps specifically established to train assets from the Gulf.”
In the report, which was sent to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations, Bahrain’s government said that Iranian-backed Hezbollah operatives had been training opposition figures at camps in Lebanon and Iran in an effort to destabilize the Khalifa monarchy.
The report also said the militant group has trained militants for activities in neighboring Gulf countries, according to diplomats who have reviewed it.
Earlier this month, Iranian state television said three of Tehran’s diplomats and an embassy employee were expelled from Kuwait for alleged links to a spy ring working for Tehran. They reportedly had spied for Iran since the Allied invasion of Iraq.
Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah of Kuwait later charged that the diplomats had proven links to a suspected spy ring, three members of which a Kuwaiti court condemned to death on March 29, according to Agence-France Presse.
The expulsions come at a time of heightened tensions between Gulf Arab states and their Iranian neighbor across the water. In addition to Kuwaiti allegations of Iranian spying, Bahrain has also accused Iran of meddling in its domestic affairs.
The March 14 intervention of a Saudi-led Gulf force in Bahrain aimed at quelling the protest movement in the only Shiite-majority Arab state of the Gulf. The move was condemned by Iran, and sparked a war of words between Shiite Iran and its Arab neighbors.
The population of Bahrain is estimated at 1.2 million and it has been ruled by the Sunni monarchy for more than 200 years.
Last Wednesday, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan of the United Arab Emirates told a news conference in Abu Dhabi that “Iran should reconsider its policies in the region and should respect the unity and sovereignty of Gulf countries and do not interfere in their domestic affairs.”
Strains in relations across the Gulf date back to the 1980s when the Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia, backed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in an eight-year war against Iran.
The GCC has more recently voiced concern over Tehran’s alleged ambitions for regional dominance and its nuclear program. Agencies