Tehran has denied that it had anything to do with the blow-up of Bahrain’s biggest oil pipeline that carries crude from Saudi Arabia.
In a statement carried by media, the spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said “It seems the only thing that Bahraini officials have learned to do after any incident in the island is pinning the blame on Iran. “They should know that the era of making such absurd and false statements and the time of playing such childish blame-games has come to an end.”
The blast occurred late on Friday night near a village 15 km from Manama, and did not result in any casualties but caused damage to nearby cars and buildings. Bahrain’s Interior Minister, Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa issued a statement following the blast saying it was “the latest example of a terrorist act performed by terrorists in direct contact with, and under instruction from, Iran”. The minister did not mention any suspects, however, and he did not elaborate on the cause of the blast.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Khalid al-Falih, said that crude oil flows through the pipeline had been suspended and Saudi Arabia was boosting the security around its own oil facilities following the Friday blast in Bahrain.
Bahrain is a close ally to Saudi Arabia and the West, but its name is not free of controversy. The tiny kingdom is populated by a majority of Shi’ite Muslims, but its government is Sunni. Since 2011 there has been unrest among the majority with demands for reforms and more rights for the Shi’ites, which has been crushed by the government.
As a predominantly Shi’ite country itself, Iran is a natural ally to Bahrain’s Shi’ites, and just as natural an enemy to the Sunni-controlled Gulf states and Saudi Arabia. After the crushing of the initial 2011 protests, there have been individual shooting and bombing attacks against Bahraini security forces, which Manama blames on Tehran but the latter has repeatedly denied any role in the attacks.