The Gambia and the Islamic Republic of Iran have broken diplomatic ties following reports that Iran was involved in an illegal arms shipment to Gambia including rockets and grenades. All Iranians representing their government have therefore been asked to leave Gambia within 24 hours.
The Gambia and Iran have enjoyed strong diplomatic ties in the past, but a statement issued by the Gambian foreign ministry said “all government of the Gambia projects and programmes, which were implemented in cooperation with the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran have been cancelled.
“The Gambia government hereby requests all Iranian nationals representing the interest of the government of Iran in the Gambia to leave the country within 48 hours from the effective date stipulated through a notification issued to the Government of Iran,” the statement read on Monday.
Analysts say the decision by the Gambian government to break relations with Iran comes after the two countries were mentioned in Nigeria’s report to the United Nations Security Council.
Nigeria claimed that an illegal arms shipment from Iran, including rockets and grenades was on its way to a west African country, later named as the Gambia. And analysts believe it is this report that has led to the break in all economic, political and diplomatic ties with Iran.
Prior to this report, the Gambia and Iran enjoyed mutual support and empathy for each other, following a shared feeling of oppression from the west: Iran under sanctions for its nuclear program and the Gambia accused of rights abuses.
In 2006, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said both nations were under pressure from “bullying” powers, a perception that analysts say strengthened diplomatic relations between Tehran and Banjul.
The Iranian authority had said since both countries have many common viewpoints on international and development issues, Iran was on its feet to transfer its expertise in agriculture to the Gambia. Iran has been involved in many projects in the Gambia.
However, the Gambia, which supported Iran’s right to develop its nuclear capabilities, can now not be considered as a friendly nation by Iran, which is currently under four sets of UN sanctions over its disputed nuclear program including a ban on arms sales.