RIYADH  -  Gulf ministers meeting in Riyadh on Thursday condemned what they termed Iran’s support for “terrorist gangs” in Bahrain and urged Tehran to stop fueling “sectarian conflicts”. 

In a statement issued at the end of a meeting in Riyadh, the ministers of the Arab states of the Gulf expressed “condemnation of the provocative and irresponsible statements, and acts of aggression by the Iranian regime towards the kingdom of Bahrain”. 

They also deplored Tehran’s “support to terrorist gangs” and accused it of “fueling sectarian strife to harm national unity in the kingdom”. The ministerial council urged Iran to “abandon politics that lead to nourishing sectarian and confessional conflicts, and to stop forming and supporting groups and militias that fuel these conflicts in Arab states”. 

Bahrain and fellow Gulf monarchies have repeatedly accused Iran of meddling in the kingdom’s internal affairs, a charge that Tehran categorically denies. Bahrain frequently claims busting terror cells formed by members of its majority Shia majority. Many have been tried and jailed over charges of belonging to such groups. 

The tiny kingdom has seen sporadic protests and clashes since security forces quelled Shiite-led protests in 2011 that demanded political reforms. Bahrain is strongly backed by neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the heavyweight and regional rival of Iran. 

The two countries are at odds in the Syrian conflict, where Iran supports the regime of President Bashar al-Assad while Riyadh backs the opposition. 

Iran earlier on Thursday strongly denied any meddling, a day after Arab leaders at a summit in Jordan condemned “foreign interference” in their affairs in a clear reference to the Islamic republic.