Monday, May 16, 2011

Iran sends "solidarity" flotilla to Bahrain-report

TEHRAN May 16 (Reuters) - Shi'ite-ruled Iran sent a flotilla to Bahrain on Monday to show solidarity with mainly Shi'ite Muslim protesters, escalating tensions with the island kingdom that is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

It was not clear when the convoy might reach Bahrain, which has a majority Shi'ite population but is ruled by a Sunni king.

Bahrain, which has cracked down on pro-democracy protesters in recent weeks, has criticised the decision to send the flotilla and accused non-Arab Iran of interfering its affairs.

Iran's English-language Press TV said 120 activists, including professors, students and clerics, were aboard the convoy, sent to condemn the killing of Bahraini protesters.

"The convoy will seek to get permission to get inside Bahraini waters. However, it is very unlikely that at this point in time the Bahraini government would allow this," it said.

In an interview with Al Arabiya television, the head of Bahrain's Information Affairs Authority, Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed al-Khalifa, said the move was unacceptable.

"This is a blatant interference in Bahrain's internal affairs, especially since Bahrain does not ask for humanitarian aid from ... Iran," he said.

In a sign that the flotilla could heighten sectarian tensions in the Gulf, one newspaper reported that Kuwait would protect its neighbour from any Iranian threat.

Kuwait has sent navy units to Bah

Tehran Times

Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani in a letter to the parliament speakers of the world’s countries has voiced deep concern over a deterioration of human rights violation in Bahrain, urging them to take practical measures to stop the suppression of Bahraini protesters who are campaigning for their legitimate demands.

In the letter, Larijani highlighted the need for responding properly to Bahraini people’s demands through a peaceful process.

He also called for the withdrawal of the Peninsula Shield forces, which entered Bahrain to put down unrest after the escalation of the political situation in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

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