About 200 members of Iran’s parliament on Wednesday condemned Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Bahrain and urged the Persian Gulf kingdom to use its forces against Israel instead.
“The Saudi Army has learnt nothing from the Islamic culture because had it been really powerful, it should have stood up to the crimes of the Zionist regimes against defenseless people of Palestine,” they said in a statement, according to Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.
Saudi Arabia and other members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) sent more than 1,000 troops into Bahrain on March 14 to help that nation’s Sunni royal family quell a month-old uprising by the nation’s Shiite majority.
Iran has backed the protesters since they took to the streets Feb. 14, though the regime’s rhetoric has escalated in recent days. On Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said “the Saudis did an ugly thing to deploy troops,” and “the Bahraini government also did an ugly work to kill its own people.”
At rallies Wednesday in the Iranian cities of Qom and Masshad, senior clerics accused the GCC troops of committing “savage crimes” in Bahrain, while protesters chanted “Death to Zionist Saudis” and called Bahrain’s king “an enemy to Prophet [Mohammed].”
In telephone interviews with The Washington Times, senior pro-government lawmakers in Bahrain blasted Iran’s interference.
“I would like to ask the Iranians a question,” said Adel al-Moawda, second deputy chairman of Bahrain’s Representative Council. “Why are they using this language now? The GCC troops entered Bahrain two weeks ago.”
Mr. Moawda speculated that Iran was trying to divert attention from the news of Kuwait’s dismantling of an alleged Iranian spy ring.
Gamal Fakhro, first deputy chairman of Bahrain’s Consultative Council, called Iranian allegations of a violent crackdown “total rubbish” and said they revealed the regime’s hypocrisy.
“We have seen what they have done with Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi,” he said, referring to the two opposition leaders who were imprisoned by the regime in February. “[Other anti-government activists] have either been jailed or kept under house arrest. Rather than focusing on the internal affairs of Bahrain, Iran needs to focus on its own affairs.”
Events in Bahrain have been seen as a regional conflict between an emboldened Iran and its Arab neighbors, particularly those with large Shiite populations.
Jasim Hussain, a senior lawmaker from Bahrain’s opposition Wefaq bloc, told The Times that he was “not surprised” by the Iranian rhetoric and said it confirmed his fears that the Saudi-led intervention would provoke a response from Tehran.
“We don’t want Bahrain to become a place where regional powers try to settle their accounts and make Bahrain a place for their proxy war,” he said.