Bahrain's two largest liberal societies have condemned the visit by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the island of Abu Mousa, saying that it was a "provocative act."
Arab states at the United Nations have supported the UAE's rights to Iran-occupied Abu Mousa near the mouth of the strategic Strait of Hormuz, along with Greater and Lesser Tunbs.
"This visit's timing and meaning convey a negative message about Iran's insistence that the island and the other two islands of Greater Tunb and Lesser are Iranian," said the Progressive Tribune in Bahrain. "The islands were occupied by the regime of the Shah and the Islamic Republic has kept them despite all the calls by the UAE, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Arab countries to settle the issue legally," the society said.
The National Action Democratic Society Waad said that the visit was a "blatant provocation of the GCC citizens."
"We have repeatedly called for keeping the area free of tensions that would harm all the countries on both sides of the Gulf," Waad said in a statement.
"There is an urgent need to address and settle all disputes between the Gulf countries peacefully in order to reinforce stability in this vital region and avoid tensions. The visit by the Iranian president has exacerbated the situation, in a development similar to the allegations made by some Iranian leaders in 2009 about Bahrain being part of Iran. All the components of the Bahraini society have condemned such allegations," the society said.