Iran is stepping up criticism of plans by Gulf Arab states to form a closer political, economic, and military union.
On May 16, the Islamic Propagation Coordination Council, which organizes state-backed demonstrations in Iran, urged Iranians to stage rallies after Friday prayers this week to protest what it described as a U.S. plan to annex Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry has warned that such a union would only "deepen the wounds" in Bahrain, after Saudi Arabia sent troops to the island kingdom to quash recent unrest by the majority Shi'ites.
The six U.S.-allied, Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab states -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates -- are already linked in the Gulf Cooperation Council.
It was set up in 1981 to counter Shi'ite Iran's influence.
Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters