Iran’s president denied the accusation by Gulf Arab states that the Islamic regime was meddling in Bahrain, and urged Arab rulers not to play into US hands and aid its alleged plan to re-shape the Middle East.
The comments from Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad came after six Gulf Arab foreign ministers released a strongly-worded statement in which they “condemned” Iran’s “interference” in neighbouring Bahrain.
Mr Ahmadi-Nejad said the communiqué “lacked a legal basis” and “was approved under the political pressure by the US and its allies”.
“Let’s be careful that the game by the US and its allies is a big game. They are seeking a new Middle East in which the Zionist regime is stable and free from dangers while the US domination is deep and consistent,” he told a press conference on Monday.
Mr Ahmadi-Nejad warned the US that people in the region were also after a new Middle East but “without the Zionist regime, without the US domination and without the US servants”.
Iran has largely supported the spread of north African revolts to Bahrain and Yemen, describing the uprisings as an Islamic awakening against western-backed dictators, inspired by its own revolution in 1979.
However, the support by Shia-dominated Iran for the violent protests in Bahrain, which has a majority Shia population, has sparked tensions with Sunni Arab rulers in the Gulf.
Saudi Arabia led a joint force of Gulf troops into Bahrain last month to back the ruling al-Khalifa family and has accused Iran of destabilising the region.
Mr Ahmadi-Nejad called for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Bahrain and urged Manama to negotiate with its opposition instead of carrying out “the heinous act” of killing them.
“The problem won’t be resolved by accusing Iran,” he told the US and Arab states, and tacitly warned them that Iran was too big to be threatened.
“Both Americans and others should put the map in front of them to realise who they are talking to.”
Sunni-dominated Arab states are concerned that Iran is fanning sectarianism in the region and fuelling revolts in Bahrain.
Iran’s Shia clerics in the holy city of Qom also announced closure of their classes on Wednesday to show solidarity with the Bahraini opposition.
Although the Islamic regime in Tehran has rendered its support to the recent popular developments in the region, it has strongly condemned the western military intervention to support the opposition in Libya.
Iran has urged Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, to stop western military intervention in Libya and “prevent the repeat of a catastrophe in Iraq and Afghanistan”.
Meanwhile, Iran considers the uprising in Syria, its main ally in the Middle East, to be a plot by western governments to destroy the resistance movement against Israel.
While the Iranian state media has ignored the developments in Syria, Mr Ahmadi-Nejad on Monday said Damascus was an “intimate friend” and was able to resolve its domestic problems.