GCC foreign ministers condemn Iranian interference in Gulf states’ affairs

Saudi official source denounces “irresponsible” remarks by Iranian Majlis’ national security committee on Saudi Arabia

Saudi Shura Council rejects Iranian parliament’s “lies”

Kuwait says to expel Iranian diplomats on charges of spying, Tehran replies crisis resulted from “misunderstanding”

The Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council held a special session at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Council in Riyadh, under the chairmanship of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, the current chairman of the Ministerial Council and in the presence of Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Prince Saud al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait.

The meeting was attended by Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, the Secretary-General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab Gulf States.

The Ministerial Council reviewed the latest developments in the region, and expressed deep concern for the continuation of Iranian interferences in the internal affairs of the GCC countries through conspiracy against their national security and spreading division and sectarian strife among their citizens in violation of their sovereignty, independence, the principles of good neighborliness, international norms and laws, the Charter of the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Conference.

In this regard, the council expressed its condemnation of Iran's blatant interference in the affairs of the State of Kuwait by planting spy networks on its territories to harm the security, stability and the interests of its citizens. Paying tribute to the efficient security services in Kuwait, the council emphasizes the support of the GCC countries for all actions taken by the State of Kuwait for the protection of its national security, on the basis of the principle of the interdependence of the collective security of the GCC countries.

The Ministerial Council welcomed the return of calm and stability to the Kingdom of Bahrain, praising the wisdom of its leadership and the loyalty of the people of Bahrain, Stressing that the Kingdom of Bahrain has the necessary ability and wisdom to deal with domestic issues, developments and requirements in order to achieve its security, stability and prosperity.

The Ministerial Council strongly condemned the Iranian interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain, which is a violation of international conventions, and the principles of good neighborliness.

The Council reaffirms the legitimacy of the Peninsula Shield forces presence in the Kingdom of Bahrain upon its request, based on the Statute of the Council of cooperation, and the texts of the joint defense agreement among the GCC countries, which forms the legal basis to do so.

In the same context, the Ministerial Council denounced the false accusations contained in the irresponsible statement issued by the Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy of the Iranian Shoura Council on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and it considered it as a hostile stand and provocative interference in the internal affairs of the GCC countries.

The Council called on Iran to stop these policies of aggression and to fully comply with the principles of good neighborliness, mutual respect and international laws and conventions in order to ensure the maintenance of security and stability in this important region for the whole world.

With regard to developments of the situation in the Republic of Yemen, the Council expressed its deep concern at the deteriorating security situation and the state of division in Yemen to the detriment of the interests of its citizens and their economic and cultural gains.

The Council calls on the interested parties in Yemen to give priority to the national interest and to quickly return to the table of national dialogue to agree on national goals and needed reforms, leading to a comprehensive agreement which restores public social peace and provides the Yemeni people with the desired reform and stable, secure and decent life.

The council stressed its respect for the will and choices of the Yemeni people in order to preserve the unity of Yemen and safeguard its stability, security and national gains.

The GCC states have agreed to make contacts with the Yemeni government and opposition through ideas to overcome the status quo.

Meanwhile, an official source condemned and censured in the most strongest words the irresponsible statement issued by the so-called National Security and Foreign Policy of Iran's Shoura Council which described the Saudi policy in the Gulf region as 'playing with fire' and demanded the Kingdom to withdraw its forces from Bahrain.

The statement intentionally ignored the evident Iranian interference in the affairs of the region's countries, its violation of their sovereignty and independence and its attempts to stir sedition and disturbance on their territories, creating hostile policies that totally brush aside the international norms and laws and principles of good neighborhoods, the last of whcih was the flagrant Iranian interference in the sisterly State of Kuwait using a conspiratorial network with links to Iranian official elements.

The source said the spreaders of these lies forgot or deliberately pretend to forget that it was not the right of Iran to breach the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Bahrain or to involve into its affairs or any other Gulf state or to attempt to deprive Bahrain form its legitimate right to seek the help of Al-Jazeerah (Peninsula) Shield following suit of other GCC countries to maintain security and peace and protect the Bahraini people and their achievements.

Presided over by its Speaker Sheikh Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh, Saudi Arabia’s Majlis Al-Shura held its 17th ordinary session.

In a statement issued during the session, Majlis Al-Shoura strongly denounced the irresponsible statement issued by the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian Parliament which contained false allegations and flagrant assault against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Majlis Al-Shoura also condemned these fabrications which run counter to Islamic principles, international norms and laws, and principles of good-neighborliness.

The claims of the Iranian National Security Committee ignite ugly sectarian flames that should be avoided by every rational person who puts the nation's best interests ahead of all other considerations, the Majlis Al-Shoura statement said.

'While Iran blatantly intervenes in the affairs of the region, the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian Parliament accuses the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of interventions,' the Majlis Al-Shoura statement added.

Majlis Al-Shoura's statement stressed that upsetting the security and stability of any GCC Member State constitutes a direct harm to the security and stability of all GCC Member States as stipulated in agreements signed by GCC Member States.

Majlis Al-Shoura's statement commended all stances of and steps by GCC Member States to preserve their security and protect their stability.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the session, the Secretary General of Majlis Al-Shura Dr. Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Ghamdi said Majlis Al-Shura approved a draft agreement on cooperation in the field of combating terrorism, organized crime and illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances between the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Majlis Al-Shura also approved the accession of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Grains Trade Convention (GTC, 1995) as of September 1, 2010.

Meanwhile, Kuwait announced it is to expel a number of Iranian diplomats for alleged spying that dates back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, in a fresh blow for Arab-Persian ties across the Gulf.

Sunni-ruled Bahrain, a fellow Gulf state and scene of protests led by its Shiite majority, has accused Shiite Iran of meddling in its affairs and elements of the Bahraini opposition of links with Tehran.

The unrest and charges of Iranian ties have raised concerns in the Sunni monarchies of the oil-rich Gulf, which sent a joint military force to Bahrain where security forces crushed an anti-regime protest movement on March 16.

Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Sabah told reporters that Kuwait is to expel an unspecified number of Iranian diplomats for alleged links to a spy ring working for Tehran, reportedly ever since the invasion of Iraq.

"There will be action against a group of Iranian diplomats ... They will be considered persona non grata and expelled from Kuwait," he said.

The foreign minister charged that the diplomats had proven links to the suspected spy ring, three members of which a Kuwaiti court condemned to death.

An Iranian foreign ministry source, quoted earlier by state news agency IRNA, denied any such link. "This claim is a lie and baseless. This issue has nothing to do with the Islamic Republic of Iran," the source insisted.

The three men condemned to death -- two Iranians and a Kuwaiti national -- were all serving in Kuwait's army when they arrested in May 2010. Iran at the time also strongly denied any involvement.

The court, in closed-door sessions, heard charges that the spy ring had passed on confidential military information, taken pictures of military installations in Kuwait and spied for Iran. "What we saw in the ruling has shocked us ... that there is a conspiracy network linked to official sides in the Islamic republic. As a result we have set up a foreign ministry crisis cell and recalled our ambassador" from Tehran.

Sheikh Mohammed said Iran's charge d'affaires at its embassy in Kuwait City was summoned and handed an official protest at the foreign ministry.

According to local media, the men confessed to photographing Kuwaiti and US military sites for Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard, although the defendants denied the charges and said confessions were extracted under torture.

Kuwait's Al-Qabas newspaper said three Iranian diplomats were involved in the spy cell but the court could not prosecute because of their diplomatic immunity.

Iranian diplomats started to recruit members of the ring a decade ago, according to the daily which cited details of the court ruling.

It said cell members had during the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq supplied Tehran with information on Kuwaiti army and coalition movements stationed in the emirate, used as a springboard for the campaign.

Analyst Mustafa Alani of the Gulf Research Centre in Dubai said the expulsions were unlikely to have a long-term impact on ties between Kuwait City and Tehran.

The Kuwaiti government was "under huge pressure from Sunni MPs ... and the media to take action, not to let this go without proving their displeasure," Alani said.

He said the espionage ring was collecting information mainly on US military installations in Kuwait, as part of a pattern of recruiting local Shiites or nationals of Iranian origin in the Gulf to spy on Arab neighbors, Alani said.

About 45,000 Iranians live and work in predominantly Sunni Kuwait, which also has a sizeable Shiite minority.

On the Gulf front, the United States has accused Iran of undermining peace and stability in the region by trying to advance Tehran's agenda in its pro-Western Arab neighbors across the waterway.

"We share the view that Iran's activities in the Gulf, including its efforts to advance its agenda in the neighboring countries undermines peace and stability," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said earlier this month.

Tehran has publicly come out in support of Arab protest movements in Bahrain and Yemen. Its Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Manama's rulers had committed a "strategic and political" blunder that would cost their "legitimacy."