Interior Minister: Qatar represents threat to Gulf security

Manama: Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa said that despite regional security challenges, the security situation in Bahrain in general is secure and stable thanks to the wise leadership of HM the King, the efforts of the government, the dedication and sacrifices of the police personnel and the people’s cooperation.

Every society has its own security challenges, hence the security institution has to determine such threats and take appropriate steps within the law to eliminate them, Shaikh Rashid said in an interview with Sharq Al Awsat.

We in Bahrain have learnt our security lessons that keep us alert and we have enough experience to deal with future challenges. As Bahrain is committed to excellent ties with, and strong stances towards, brotherly and friendly countries, it receives the required brotherly backing from them. While discussing the security situation, I must say we are receiving more visitors than ever before. This shows clearly that the country is safe.

Shaikh Rashid said that Iran has focused on exporting extremism and sectarianism to establish its roots in Bahrain with the backing of the Wali-i-Faqih (Guardian Jurist). The intensity of the interference has increased after the 2011 incidents. It includes training in the use of weapons and bomb-making and field combat skills by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, in addition to providing support for the trafficking of various types of high-grade explosive. It has been noticed that lately their focus has been on transferring the bomb-making technology while the commands to commit terrorist acts come from the fugitives living in Iran.

The current hostile statements from Iranian officials are part of the interference, the minister added.

The Iranian TV channels and other media outlets work round the clock to spread hatred, malicious rumours and misleading facts to promote its agenda in the region.

However, by the grace of God and thanks to the efforts of the security authorities, we have succeeded in exposing terror cells and have found out about their sources and activities. We have also arrested those involved in the terrorist acts which resulted in the deaths of policemen, innocent citizens and residents and the legal system have dealt with them in accordance with the law. We have also upgraded our security capabilities in various areas to tackle such challenges.

Bahrain has explained all aspects of the dangerous Iranian interference to brothers and friends and has succeeded in pushing the issue for discussion at the UN Security Council, he added

Referring to Qatar’s negative stands and the level of interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain, Shaikh Rashid said they are a continuing process that covers various aspects.

In the political field it is Qatar’s claim, based on forged documents, that the Hawar islands are part of its territories, while in the economic field Qatar has hindered the construction of a bridge to link it with Bahrain. It has also not contributed its share of the GCC support programme like other Gulf countries and has not allowed gas exports to Bahrain, forcing us to import it from China, whereas Qatar is so near us, he said.

In the social field it is the naturalisation issue, which has its basis in history as the ties between families of the two countries are one under one ruler. Instead of making the relations between the Bahraini and Qatari families a basis of social strength, Qatar has turned the matter into a conflict and has targeted the concept of the national identity. The ongoing naturalisation process of Bahraini families affects our social security. Qatar has also threatened our national security through its espionage operations.

Within the sphere of security, Qatar has adopted the viewpoint of the plotters of 2011 to overthrow the government and set up a country based on Wali-i-Faqih (Guardian Jurist).

We had expected from Qatar to adopt a stand similar to that of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which offered us support and backing.

The minister said that the role of the Qatari media, especially of Al Jazeera which dedicated itself to providing a biased media coverage that served non-nationalistic goals, resulted in human and material losses in 2011.

The channel also incited people to boycott the National Action Charter referendum. The official Qatari media interviewed people working against Bahrain’s interests. A survey of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the incidents in Bahrain from 2011 to 2017 shows that the channel covered them for 6,690 minutes, including 4,200 minutes in 2011. This shows the negative media coverage of the channel at that time. While the coverage of Al Jazeera’s English channel is different from that of the Arabic channel it is far from the truth while trying to distort the image of Bahrain abroad. Indeed Qatar went far in its interference by supporting all forms of terrorism.

Commenting on the reasons the countries that combat terrorism decided to sever ties with Qatar, the minister said that the question should be asked to Qatar as its refuses to talk about the issue and the reasons which led to such action.

Qatar reacted to the announcement from the boycotting countries by ignoring the reasons behind it – that those countries had taken the step to protect their security and stability. Matters that were recently exposed in the media cannot be ignored just because they happened long ago; they need to be rectified. A solution can be found once Qatar admits to what it did against those countries.

Shaikh Rashid said that Qatar represents a threat to the security of the Gulf countries if it continues with its policy of supporting extremists and terrorists.

This goes beyond national sovereignty and affects the strength and unity of the Gulf countries against regional challenges. There are many incidents that show Qatar’s negative approach, such as the assassination attempt in Saudi Arabia, the coup plot in UAE and the plot to overthrow the Bahrain government. By the grace of God all those attempts failed. Had they succeeded, they would have had major implications.

Regarding the top priorities to protect Bahrain’s security, the minister said that by the grace of God we are blessed to be under the leadership of HM the King who provides support to all and represents an ideal example of forgiveness.

HM the King’s reforms project is the future gateway for prosperity and growth and for the continuation of the clear approach of openness. Through patience the hidden aspects were exposed and the plotters’ intentions were revealed, he said.

Some people underestimate us because of our limited resources, but by the grace of God we are rich thanks to our nationalism and sincerity. As we have reinforced our security we will build our economy and treat our wounds by strengthening our domestic front and national identity that come as top security priorities. The major sacrifices we have made are aimed at achieving security, stability and prosperity. This pace could be maintained through the uniformity of national security and giving priority to the nation in words and deeds. Disloyalty to the nation will be dealt with in accordance with the law and through legislation we will build a strong national consensus under the leadership of HM the King.

Source: Bahrain News Agency