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Shuttle Diplomacy, the Way Forward on Bahrain

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TEHRAN, May 8 (ICANA) – The Iranian people are outraged at the ruthless suppression of the Bahraini people, who have rightfully risen up against an undemocratic regime that has been in power for years in the strategic Persian Gulf kingdom.
Sunday, May 08, 2011 9:03:52 PM
Shuttle Diplomacy, the Way Forward on Bahrain

Many Iranian people feel sympathy with the Bahraini people’s campaign for their legitimate rights, so the violent suppression of Bahrainis by an ironfisted dictatorial regime has deeply troubled them and aroused anti-Al-Khalifa-regime sentiments in Iran.

The dispatch of Peninsula Shield Forces to Bahrain to quell the popular uprising made Iranians angrier and prompted widespread protests in Iran.

Iranian university students, physicians, teachers, seminary students, and other citizens staged demonstrations in many cities and outside the Bahraini and Saudi embassies and the United Nations office in Tehran and called for the immediate withdrawal of Saudi Arabian forces from Bahrain.

Many Iranian officials have also made strongly-worded statements to condemn the excessive use of violence against Bahraini protesters.

Looking at things from another angle, a number of Iranian lawmakers have leveled criticism at the country’s foreign policy apparatus, saying the Foreign Ministry has not taken appropriate stances and measures on Bahrain.

However, this writer believes that it is totally unfair to criticize the Foreign Ministry for its diplomatic moves.

Since the escalation of the situation in Bahrain, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has started diplomatic efforts to help alleviate the crisis in Bahrain.

He and the Foreign Ministry spokesman issued several statements condemning the violation of human rights in Bahrain and urging the Bahraini government to exercise self-restraint.

Salehi held telephone conversations with regional officials and tried to persuade them to take action to halt the deadly attacks on the people of Bahrain.

He also wrote separate letters to Organization of the Islamic Conference Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, urging them to take action on Bahrain.

The Foreign Ministry should perform the difficult balancing act of responding to the demands of the Iranian people and officials, who have called for the Foreign Ministry to take firm action, and trying to prevent damage to diplomatic ties with the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, which have claimed that Iran is meddling in their internal affairs.

In the latest move, the foreign minister has adopted the far-sighted policy of interaction with the Persian Gulf states and travelled to Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates to hold talks with Arab officials on the ongoing developments in the region.

The Iranian foreign minister could deliver several messages to the Arab rulers of the Persian Gulf states during his tour of the region, such as:

(1) Many Iranian people are extremely concerned about the situation of the Bahraini people. They cannot remain silent about the mistreatment of Bahraini protesters, just as they were not apathetic about the violation of human rights in other regional countries.

(2) Iran is determined to help resolve the Bahrain crisis through dialogue, diplomacy, and regional cooperation and has never attempted to interfere in regional countries’ internal affairs.

(3) Although Iran may have a few disagreements with the Persian Gulf states about various regional issues, it also seeks to expand ties with these countries and believes that disagreements should not negatively affect Iran-Arab ties. (MNA)

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