x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Bahrain accuses 'spies' over protests

A threat to one country is a threat to all, meeting told, as minister warns that terrorism threatens everyday life in the kingdom.

ABU DHABI //Street protests in Bahrain recently were described by the country's minister of interior yesterday as terrorism and violence at the hands of foreigners. .

"Bahrain has witnessed security problems of utmost danger, when people's needs and demands were uncovered," Sheikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa told a meeting of Gulf Co-operation Council ministers yesterday.

He said that violence and terrorism threatened to disrupt the everyday lives of Bahraini residents.

"And we still believe what threatens our security has spread with help from outside [Bahrain]," he said.

"We have to work outside, to protect our security inside."

The ministers present emphasised the need for joint collaboration to ensure security and stability in the region.

"Any danger that threatens one country threatens the whole region," said Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, who chaired the meeting.

Further Arab instability would have repercussions for the whole region, Sheikh Rashid said.

"We need to take more steps to promote security co-operation," he said. "What we witness today is the needs of GCC countries and its citizens for more union."

He reminded the meeting of the goals set by the GCC on its foundation 30 years ago.

Sheikh Saif also said that the council's top priority was the security and stability of GCC countries, following protests in two of its member countries, Bahrain and Oman.

"The new challenges the world witnesses today imposes on us more work," he said.

Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid al Zayani, the new Bahraini GCC secretary-general, warned that foreign spies were present in both Kuwait and Bahrain.

He said Kuwaiti intelligence had uncovered "foreign plots" to spread instability and insecurity.

He also made reference to Kuwait announcing the finding of internal foreign spies in the country.

"We need to be ready all the time to counter terrorism," he said.

Prince Ahmad bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi deputy interior minister, said on the sidelines of the meeting that terrorism was the biggest security threat facing the region.

"There are a lot, the most important of which is terrorism, and it is something not expected, but we have controlled it in a big way, and we hope that it wouldn't be [a problem] again," he said.

Nations needed to monitor terror threats both within and outside their borders, and he called on other GCC countries to collaborate in Saudi's plans for counter-terrorism centre in Riyadh.

At the end of the meeting, the ministers from Bahrain and the UAE signed a new agreement on security co-operation that calls for great collaboration on policing, including better sharing of information.

The agreement specifies drugs and corruption, as well as organised crime and human trafficking, cyber-crime and fraud, money laundering, and the smuggling of vehicles and antiquities.

osalem@thenational.ae