Bahrain accuses Qatar of coup attempt

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Bahraini state media on Wednesday accused Qatar of attempting to overthrow the government in Manama, upping the stakes in a diplomatic crisis that has seen Doha isolated in the Persian Gulf.

Along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, Bahrain cut ties with Qatar in June on accusations the emirate supports extremism and is too close to Iran.

Qatar has denied the allegations.

State-run Bahrain Television aired a report Wednesday which claimed that neighboring Qatar was behind anti-government protests that have shaken the tiny kingdom for six years.

The report claimed that, in 2011, Qatar's prime minister contacted Ali Salman -- then head of the country's largest opposition group Al-Wefaq -- and asked him to urge protesters to flood the streets and ramp up pressure on the state.

"We should use this evidence to file charges against a country that supports terrorism," said Munes al-Mardi, head of the country's journalism syndicate, who was featured in the report.

Al-Wefaq Party was the largest bloc in Bahrain's elected lower house of parliament until 2011, when its members resigned en masse in protest against a state crackdown on demonstrators.

A 2016 court order dissolved Al-Wefaq for "harboring terrorism". Ali Salman has been behind bars since 2014.

Authorities have regularly cracked down on protests, which at times have turned violent.

The state has jailed hundreds of citizens and stripped a number of high-profile activists and clerics of their citizenship.

Bahrain has been a key ally of the United States for decades and is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

The United States has not taken sides in the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar, another US ally which is home to the largest American air base in the region.

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