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Bahraini official says nuclear deal with Iran brought 'more crises, chaos' to region

During official visit to Israel to strengthen bilateral relations, Abdulla bin Ahmad al Khalifa admits results of deal were contrary to expectations

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid greets Bahraini Undersecretary for Political Affairs Ambassador Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa (Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

In a visit to Israel on Sunday, Bahrain’s Undersecretary for International Relations blamed the Iran nuclear deal for “more crises and more chaos in the region.”

“What did it leave us with?” Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told reporters. “More crises and more chaos in the region.”

Al Khalifa arrived in Israel on Sunday on a four-day visit to strengthen bilateral relations between Bahrain and the Jewish state. The countries established official relations in September 2020 as part of the historic Abraham Accords. 

During his visit to Israel, Khalifa is expected to meet President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, in part to lay the groundwork for Lapid to meet his Bahraini counterpart Abdullatif Al Zayani.

In Jerusalem, Khalifa also met Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a think tank located in Israel’s capital. 

During a press briefing at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Khalifa blasted the 2015 Iran deal – the centerpiece of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy. In 2018, former President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal, but the current administration – under President Joe Biden – has been negotiating to revive the deal.

Khalifa admitted that Bahrain had initially hoped the Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), “would open up a new page for Iran and the region.”

“But on the contrary, it has fueled crises across the Middle East. It has increased the number of refugees that have fled into Europe. It has caused more instigation of extremism and hatred in many different regions across the Middle East,” he said.

Just like Israel and much of the moderate Sunni Arab world, Bahrain has expressed concern that Iran’s regime will eventually acquire nuclear bombs that would threaten the entire Middle East. 

Tehran has not officially called for Bahrain’s destruction, as it has done repeatedly against the Jewish state. However, Bahrain is far more vulnerable to Iranian aggression. Bahrain is a tiny Island kingdom located on Iran’s doorstep in the Persian Gulf. Unlike the powerful Israeli military, the Bahraini military capabilities are far more modest. In addition, Iran has tried to undermine the nation's domestic stability by inciting Bahrain’s Shiite majority against its Sunni minority leadership. 

In a region where lethal violence and discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities is the norm, the Kingdom of Bahrain has vowed to protect its small native Christian and Jewish minority communities. 

Bahrain is not merely interested in strengthening diplomatic relations with Israel. The tiny Gulf state is also eager to strengthen the commercial and technological cooperation with the Jewish state. 

With low desert plains and lack of sufficient water, Bahrain is especially interested in Israel’s cutting-edge water technologies. In January, Bahrain signed a preliminary agreement with Israel’s national water company Mekorot in an effort to address its chronic drinking water shortage.  

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