by: Ilse Strauss
Tuesday, 15 September 2020 | Bahrain’s decision to clasp Israel’s hand in friendship after 72 years of the Sultanate turning a cold shoulder was a strategic move to fortify Manama against the growing menace of a common regional foe: Iran.
“Iran has chosen to behave in a dominating way in several forms and has become a constant danger that harms our internal security,” Baharain’s interior minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa told Reuters yesterday.
“The regional situation makes us deal with ongoing threats for the past years, in which most of them were deterred,” Khalifa explained. “It isn’t wise to see the threat and wait for it to reach us if we can in any way avoid it.”
Both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain faced harsh criticism from Turkey, Iran and particularly the Palestinians for normalizing diplomatic relations with Israel.
Palestinian leaders denounced the US-brokered peace deal between the Jewish state and the two Gulf nations as “despicable,” a “betrayal,” and a “stab in the back,” while Ankara and Tehran accused Abu Dhabi and Manama of turning their backs on their brethren, siding with a common foe and abandoning the Palestinian cause.
Khalifa dismissed the accusations, pointing out that Bahrain’s foremost responsibility is the people of Bahrain—and keeping them safe from an enemy that seeks to control the entire region. If that means joining forces with Israel, so be it.
“It is not an abandonment of the Palestinian cause,” he explained, “it is to strengthen Bahrainis’ security and their economic stability. We are a state that is determined to develop our national capabilities, and our old and modern strategy is based on strong allies to confront potential threats.”
Bahrain is ruled by the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa family and has long since accused Shiite Iran of instigating riots to overthrow Bahrain.
Bahrain shares Iran as a common foe with Israel and the UAE, all of whom enjoy close ties with the US.
Manama announced on Friday that it would normalize diplomatic relations with Jerusalem, making it the second Gulf state to take such a step in less than a month, following in the footsteps of Abu Dhabi’s announcement on August 13. The UAE and Bahrain are the third and fourth Arab nations to establish ties with Israel, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 2004.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain are currently in Washington for the formal signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords at the White House today.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz yesterday spoke via telephone with his Bahrain counterpart in the first publicly acknowledged contact between the Jewish and Arab nation.
Posted on September 15, 2020
Source: (Bridges for Peace, 15 September 2020)
Photo Credit: U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
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