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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Terrorist activity in Bahrain falls after Qatar boycott, foreign minister says

Sheikh Khalid says US pressure on Iran has also contributed to the drop in incidents

Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa attends a meeting of the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 29, 2017. Faisal Al Nasser / Reuters
Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa attends a meeting of the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 29, 2017. Faisal Al Nasser / Reuters

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed said terrorist activities have decreased in his country since four Arab countries cut ties with Qatar last year.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed relations with Doha in June 2017 over its support of terrorist groups.

Qatar has also been developing a closer relationship with Tehran – which has also been accused of interfering in other countries’ affairs and of being behind terrorist operations.

Sheikh Khalid said that US pressure on Iran has also contributed to the decrease in terrorist activities.

“Communication with terrorists in Bahrain has stopped, because it is no longer coming in directly,” he told Asharq Al Awsat newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.

“If they do have communication with the outside, it is via Iran.

“Out of all the Gulf countries, we have the most historical disagreements with Qatar, but we are always trying to convince the brothers the size of the problems we face.”

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Sheikh Khalid said that what the boycotting countries have done by cutting ties with Doha is to “avoid the damage themselves".

He reiterated that there is no blockade on Qatar and said Doha’s “relationship with the world is their [business]”.

He commented on Qatar’s close relationship with Tehran, saying that any link with Tehran is considered dangerous to Bahrain and its security.

Sheikh Khalid urged Washington to deal with Doha, which has openly developed a relationship with Iran yet hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East.

“We are waiting for the US to pay attention to this point, that this country which hosts Al Udeid airbase, is also an entry point for Iranians.”

Washington has sought to choke off the funding of Iran-backed groups, including Hezbollah, with sanctions among a slew of fresh measures against Tehran since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.

The four Arab countries stand firm by their decision to boycott Qatar, saying they are willing to re-establish communications with Doha only if it adheres to regional and international agreements and the demands and principles they have issued.

Doha has so far refused to meet the quartet’s 13 demands – including the closure of Qatar-owned Al Jazeera news channel, which the quartet says provides a platform for extremists and dissidents.