Iran opts out of Manama Dialogue as FMs discuss regional security

World Today

Western and Arab ministers have gathered for a security conference in the Gulf state of Bahrain, calling for greater cooperation in the fight against ISIL forces. Over 400 people attended the Manama Dialogue in the Bahraini capital.

While Iran did not participate this year, its role in the region was also discussed. CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reported the story from Manama, Bahrain.

The foreign ministers present at the dialogue suggested that Iran could play a greater role if it could be trusted more, both regionally and globally, on the nuclear front. Iran would also be seen as more trustworthy, they suggested, by stepping back from other conflicts.

“I think Iran should try to stay away from engaging or defending or supporting or funding groups and proxies that are not necessarily, or definitely not helpful in, bringing stability to their countries, be it in Lebanon, be it in Syria, be it in Yemen, be it in many places,” Bahrani Foreign Minster Khalid Bin Ahmed said.

Iranian leaders were invited to attend, but did not send a delegation as they have in the past. Organizers said Tehran was currently focused on extended nuclear talks in London.

A former Iranian official attending the London talks dismissed criticisms of Tehran, and said the foreign ministers were being hypocritical. He also dismissed coalition airstrikes on ISIL, calling them nothing more than an ineffective political gesture led by Washington.

Iran opts out of Manama Dialogue as FMs discuss Arab regional security

Western and Arab ministers have gathered for a security conference in the Gulf state of Bahrain. The foreign ministers have called for greater cooperation in the fight against ISIL forces. Over 400 people are attending the Manama Dialogue in the Bahraini capital. Iran is not participating this year, but its role in the region is also being discussed. CCTV America's Roee Ruttenberg reported the story from Manama, Bahrain.

When the Manama Dialogue started a decade ago, its aim was to promote regional security. The region at the time was much more secure. The idea was to bring together local and global players. Organizers and participants said this was needed more than ever.

“We are here because your security is our security, your prosperity is our prosperity, your stability is our stability,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.

“This has to be a collective responsibility,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Samah Shoukry said. “We are not bound by the experiences of the past, but should embrace the potential of the future.”

Topping the agenda was the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and questions over how to defeat its fighters.

“Now is not the time to discuss divergences with different governments, because the threat of ISIL has not spared anyone,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said.

Al-Jaafari also defended recent Iranian military support outside of the framework of coalition airstrikes, and said that one cannot be picky about allies. He also criticized the labeling of some Iraqi Shiite militia as terrorist groups.

“Not only are they not terrorists, but these groups, which paid a high price during Saddam Hussein’s regime, are today fighting on Iraqi soil to protect the Iraqi people,” al-Jaafari said.