Bahraini Defense Minister Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa has commended Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Cabinet and strongly criticized Iran's approach in the region.
Speaking to an Anatolia news agency reporter on Friday on the occasion of the second annual Istanbul World Political Forum (IWPF), Al Khalifa said: “Turkey was previously interested in the West, and making an impression to that end. Turkey was not sufficiently interested in the Middle East, but now its foreign policy is so impressive. Ankara has built strong bridges with countries in its region and has come to the forefront. To tell the truth, the Middle East is Turkey's primary milieu. The current government is working extremely well.”
Al Khalifa said Gulf countries would affirm their unity after a summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He added that a union of Gulf countries would not only be between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
“Unity is the priority of Gulf countries; it was at the top of the agenda at the [Gulf Cooperation Council] GCC meeting in Riyadh earlier. The meeting ended successfully, to a large extent, but we did not decide on a union there to provide some time to dispel the reservation of several countries in the region,” said Al Khalifa.
There will be a positive development on this issue in 2012, he stated. The Bahraini defense minister also noted that the consequences of a Gulf union would be very beneficial for the countries in the region. “Regional stability, recovery in trade, cooperation in industry and investments will become reality with this union. To enable this, we have a railway project to connect Gulf countries,” explained Al Khalifa.
In response to a question about the tension between Gulf countries and Iran following Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's visit to Abu Musa Island, he said: “The problem is due to Iran's attitude. The tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran has been longstanding. Several Iranian lawmakers still consider Bahrain the 14th city in their country. Iran wants to be a regional power and is carrying out an international plot.”
Replying to a question about reforms in Bahrain, the defense minister stated that the Bahraini government is enacting crucial reforms in accordance with the people's demand.