Iran and Qatar held their fifteenth coast guard meeting yesterday in order to enhance relations and develop field cooperation, according to Iranian media.
The meeting, held in the Iranian capital Tehran, consisted of the Iranian side headed by Border Guard Commander Brigadier General Ghasem Rezaei and the Qatari delegation headed by Lieutenant Colonel Abdulaziz Ali Al-Mohannadi, assistant director-general of the country’s Coasts and Borders Security.
Following the talks between the two states, Bahrain yesterday responded to the meeting and accused them of undermining and targeting its national unity, with Bahraini Interior Minister General Shaikh Rashid Ain Abdulla Al-Khalifa stating at a meeting that “Qatari and Iranian conspiracies to subvert national unity and spark chaos are doomed to failure.”
Al-Khalifa outlined that Iran and Qatar both play a trouble-making role in the Gulf region, with Iran instigating sectarianism in Bahrain’s affairs while Qatar seeks to undermine family bonds and social cohesion. He reiterated that “this is against Arabic and Islamic values.”
Relations between Iran and Qatar have significantly improved over the past few years, particularly owing to the blockade imposed on Qatar in 2017 by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries consisting of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain. Following the move, Qatar was forced to look elsewhere for resources and supplies and found help in Iran and Turkey.
The meeting and Bahrain’s backlash come amid a sharp increase of tensions in the Gulf since May this year due to numerous attacks being inflicted on oil tankers and ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. The seizing of vessels and tankers has also taken place, with Iran having seized a British tanker last month in retaliation for the British Navy’s seizure of an Iranian super-tanker transporting oil allegedly in violation of EU sanctions.
Yesterday, Iran seized a third tanker belonging to Iraq sailing through Gulf waters, accusing it of smuggling fuel to Arab countries in the area.
As a result of the heightened tension, the United States (US) has deployed 500 troops to Saudi Arabia overlooking the Gulf and is currently building a naval coalition made up of various countries to patrol the Gulf.