GCC countries ordered Iran to halt its interference in their internal affairs. (Reuters)
AFP, Jeddah, 02 September 2012 - Arab Gulf countries on Sunday lambasted Syria’s regime for deploying heavy weapons against civilians while ordering Iran not to interfere in their internal affairs.
The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council at a meeting in Jeddah also urged the international community to “assume their responsibilities and take measures to protect civilians” in Syria, where according to a watchdog more than 26,000 people have been killed in a revolt that erupted in March 2011.
The GCC in a statement issued after the meeting in the Saudi western city condemned “the ongoing massacres which are due to the obstinacy of the regime in using heavy weapons, including planes and tanks” against civilians.
The six countries ordered Iran to halt its “interference” in their internal affairs, citing an incident at the opening of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran when an official interpreter reportedly replaced the word “Syria” with “Bahrain” in a speech by Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi.
They asked their neighbor to “cease these acts and not resort to or threaten to use force.”
Bahrain earlier issued a statement saying it had “requested the Iranian government apologize for this act, and take the necessary action to correct the breach and ensure that actions like this one don’t happen again.”
Relations between Tehran and Manama have been rocky over Iran’s vocal criticism of Bahrain’s crackdown on Shiite-led protests last year.
There is no love lost either between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has criticized Saudi military involvement in putting down the Bahrain protests for flooding the world market with its oil.
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally that observes an extreme version of Sunni Islam, supports the mostly Sunni rebels in Syria fighting to overthrow the Shiite-dominated regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Iran, a Shiite state, is Assad’s biggest ally and has pledged him full support in his fight, though it denies providing him with soldiers or arms.
Tehran, however, accuses Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of arming and financing the Syrian rebels.
The GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.