Iran expels Bahrain senior diplomat in apparent retaliation
TEHRAN - Iran has expelled a senior official from Bahrain's embassy in Tehran in apparent retaliation after the Sunni-ruled Gulf state did the same to its envoy in Manama.
"The number two official in Bahrain's embassy in Iran is persona non grata and Mr Bassam al-Dossari must leave Iran's territory within 72 hours," the official IRNA news agency quoted a foreign ministry statement as saying late Friday.
Bahrain on Thursday recalled its ambassador from Iran and ordered Tehran's envoy to leave within 72 hours, citing Iranian "interference" in its affairs.
The Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, with a majority Shiite Muslim population ruled by a Sunni dynasty, has suffered unrest since a pro-democracy uprising in 2011.
Iran has rejected "the baseless accusations from Bahrain".
The kingdom is "evading its internal problems by passing the buck, instead of solving them" Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told state television on Friday.
"Tehran has not and will not interfere in Bahrain's internal affairs and reacts accordingly to Bahrain's actions."
On Friday, Bahrain took its protest to the United Nations by submitting a complaint against Iran.
"Iran has chosen the path of escalation in an attempt to exert control over its neighbours by continuing to interfere in internal affairs" of neighbouring countries, BNA news agency quoted Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa as telling UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
Bahrain is part of an Arab coalition, led by Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia, that has been striking Tehran-backed Yemeni rebels for over six months.
The coalition accuses Iran of arming rebels in Bahrain and Yemen.