Businessweek reports that an influential Bahraini business group has decided to freeze ties with Iran, Iraq and Lebanon in response to what it claims is foreign meddling during Shiite-led protests in the Gulf kingdom.
According to the report, the move by the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry is likely to ratchet up tensions between the small island nation — which is ruled by a Sunni monarchy and is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet — and Shiite powerhouse Iran and its allies.
The group last month called for a boycott of goods from Iran, which has criticized the crackdown by Bahrain’s government on Shiite protesters demanding greater rights. Shiites account for 70 percent of Bahrain’s population, but complain of widespread discrimination that include being excluded from top political or military posts.
In freezing ties, the chamber said it acted to highlight its displeasure toward “some countries that have intervened in the kingdom’s affairs during its crisis”.
Backers of Iraq’s Shiite-led government have expressed support for Bahrain’s protesters.