Bahrain accused Iran of helping to train rebels: WikiLeaks

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa told senior American military figures that besides Iranian backed groups, Syria was also "complicit" in the training by providing the Bahrainis with false passports, Daily Telegraph reported quoting leaked cables.

The Americans held that Shia discontent stemmed chiefly from poverty and exclusion from sensitive government positions. The claims were reported in a leaked embassy cable sent by US diplomats in Bahrain to Washington.

According to the report, King Hamad made the claim in a 90-minute meeting on July 30, 2008 with General David Petraeus, who at the time was commander of the allied forces in Iraq.

A US cable sent on August 13, 2008 said: "King Hamad related the report that Bahrainis were receiving training from Hizbollah in Lebanon, but admitted he had no definitive proof."

He also speculated that the Syrian government was complicit, and 'must be' helping these Bahrainis travel without passport verification as tourists.

Hizbollah, considred a terrorist organisation by Washington, is a political party based in Lebanon, although it is financially backed by Iran and Syria.

Later in a meeting, King Hamad told Gen Pettraeus that Bahrain, a key US ally, had been urged by Iran to support its efforts, and those of "Iraqi insurgents, Hamas, Hizbollah Taliban and Syria to drive American forces from the Gulf".

King Hamad asked Gen Petraeus: "With friends like these, who needs enemies?" Another leaked communique sent in February 2008 reported that Iran was blamed by the monarchy for encouraging discontent among the majority Shia population.

According to the report, the US officials played down this view.

"There is not convincing evidence of Iranian involvement here since at least the mid-1990s, Shia discontent stems chiefly from their lower standard of living, unofficial exclusion from sensitive government positions, and Sunni domination of parliament."

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