Bahraini FM accuses Hezbollah of training Shi’ite protester

In mid-February Bahrain first used deadly force against peaceful protesters, 2 weeks ago invited in Gulf Cooperation Council forces.

By OREN KESSLER
March 30, 2011 23:11
1 minute read.
Bahraini ruler Sheikh al-Khalifa

Bahraini ruler Sheikh al-Khalifa 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Bahrain’s foreign minister has accused Hezbollah of “training” Shi’ite opponents of the island kingdom’s regime. Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa, a member of the Sunni Khalifa dynasty that runs the Shi’itemajority state, told the Londonbased daily Al-Hayat that his government had “proof on the way some parties inside and outside Bahrain have been plotting with Hezbollah,” and that training for public protests had taken place in Lebanon.

Khalifa said his country had acted out of concern that turmoil could spread to other Persian Gulf states. “There have been sectarian tensions everywhere” for centuries, he told Al- Hayat. “Bahrain was afraid sectarian confrontations would break out not only in Bahrain but in all other regions.”

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Bahrain complains over Hezbollah comments on protests

In mid-February Bahrain first used deadly force against peaceful protesters, and two weeks ago invited in Gulf Cooperation Council forces to help quell the unrest. The crackdown is estimated to have resulted in between 11 and 26 deaths, and over 1,000 people wounded.

“We want to affirm to the world that we don’t have a problem between the government and the opposition,” Khalifa said. “There is a clear sectarian problem in Bahrain. There is division within society… Today we are suffering from this problem between Sunnis and Shi’ites.”

Defending his country’s decision to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization, Khalifa said: “We woke up one day to hear on television that the party’s secretary general [Hassan Nasrallah] is attacking Bahrain, accusing it of injustice and cursing its leaders and vowing to interfere in our internal affairs.”

On Tuesday, Bahrain’s interior minister made similar comments to parliament, according to the Lebanese website Ya Libnan.com. Sheikh Rashed bin Abdullah al-Khalifa accused the Bahraini protesters of links to the Lebanese terrorist group, as their tactics “reveal a link and training style of Hezbollah.”

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Bahrain – an island kingdom of 500,000 with a 60-percent Shi’ite majority – has been racked by popular protests since mid-February. The nation is home to the US Navy Fifth Fleet and is situated in a key strategic location adjacent to Saudi Arabia and across the Persian Gulf from Iran.

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