Iran has summoned Bahrain’s charge d’affaires in reaction to the expulsion of a senior Iranian diplomat from Manama.

Hojjatollah Rahmani, Iran’s second secretary at its Bahrainian embassy, was expelled last week from Manama for charges of espionage.

In a statement, the Iranian foreign ministry says it met with the last remaining Bahraini diplomat in Tehran, expressing Iran’s dissatisfaction with the charges against Rahmani and denying the accusations of espionage.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the head of the ministry’s Gulf and Middle East branch, announced that Iran reserves the right to respond in kind to the recent developments. He added: “The presence of foreign military forces to help suppress the people has not solved Bahrain’s problems and, instead, has exacerbated the internal complications.”

Bahrain has been facing widespread popular protests since February, and the Sunni monarchy has called on its Sunni neighbours and partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council to assist in crushing the protests.

Currently, 1,000 Saudi troops and five hundred UAE soldiers are in Bahrain, as the clampdown on protesters has intensified.

Iran has condemned the oppression of protesters, and Bahrain’s government and its partners have accused Iran of meddling and fomenting unrest among Bahrain’s majority Shiite population.

Iran has denied any hand in the protests, and the Bahraini opposition has also denied having any ties to the Islamic Republic.