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Tehran slams Bahrain's 'anti-Iran' Gulf military conference

Iran has been accused of launching attacks against tankers in the Strait of Hormuz [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 August, 2019

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Iran hit out at Bahrain for hosting a 'provocative' conference on Gulf maritime security on Thursday.
Iran on Thursday slammed Bahrain for hosting a "provocative" conference on Gulf maritime security and for its "anti-Iran" rhetoric accusing Tehran of attacking tankers in sensitive waters.

Bahrain said the 31 July meeting was to discuss the "current regional situation" and blasted "the repeated attacks and unacceptable practices of Iran and the terrorist groups linked to it".

The tiny Gulf monarchy, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, did not specify who attended but British Guardian newspaper reported the UK had called for the meeting with other European countries and the US.

"Bahrain's government should not become the facilitator of common enemies' wishes and schemes in the region," said foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi in a statement published on his Telegram channel.

"The security of regional countries is inseparable and it is not possible for some to be secure at the cost of others' insecurity. It is expected that regional countries prevent foreigners' escalatory interventions by exercising prudence and foresight," he added.

Mousavi "condemned the anti-Iran measures taken by Bahrain's government including hosting suspicious and provocative conferences", the statement said.

Last month, Bahrain said it would co-host a conference on "maritime and air navigation security" with the US, set for October. 

On Monday, the UK said it will form a joint maritime task-force with the US to protect merchant vessels in the Gulf.

Just days later, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed maritime security, Iran and Yemen with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a phone call on Wednesday.

Comment: The UAE and Iran's Maritime Talks

"The secretary discussed heightened tensions in the region and the need for stronger maritime security in order to promote freedom of navigation," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

Ortagus also said that the top US diplomat and the crown prince "discussed other bilateral and regional developments, including countering the Iranian regime's destabilizing activities".

Tensions between Washington and Tehran - Saudi Arabia's arch foe - have soared since US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of a nuclear deal with Iran last year and imposed punishing sanctions.

Twelve months on from the US withdrawal, Iran responded by suspending some of its commitments under the nuclear deal.

Iran meanwhile shot down an American drone in June, with Trump saying he called off retaliatory air strikes at the last minute, and the US says it has since downed one and possibly two of Tehran's unmanned aircraft, which the Islamic republic has denied.

Iran has seized three tankers in strategic Gulf waters since last month, including a British-flagged vessel.

Washington and its Gulf allies have also accused the Islamic Republic of carrying out several mysterious attacks on ships in the region, which Tehran denies.

The ship seizures came after British Royal Marines helped to impound a tanker carrying Iranian oil off the UK overseas territory of Gibraltar on 4 July, alleging it was destined for the EU-sanctioned Syria, an accusation Iran denies.

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