Bahrain’s foreign minister struck back at his Iranian counterpart after the latter ridiculed U.S. national security adviser’s John Bolton’s trip to Israel.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Bahrain’s foreign minister sparred with his Iranian counterpart in a twitter exchange after the latter posted a derisive tweet on Monday about U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton’s visit to Israel this week.
After Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif ridiculed a picture of Bolton and several other Americans in his delegation wearing virtual reality headsets during a visit to the Western Wall, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa responded almost immediately.
He tweeted a picture of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wearing goggles in his country’s Atomic Energy Organization facility.
Khalifa wrote, “Mr Zarif, this picture says a million words [not just] about blindness; but about decades of ill intentions, hegemonic aims and misrepresentation of a proud nation. Iran is one thing and you guys are another.”
His tweet comes after another he sent last month. That pro-Israel tweet did not mention Israel by name but referred to Israel’s Operation Northern Shield.
Khalifa posted, in Arabic: “Is the digging of tunnels by the organization [Hezbollah] not an open threat to the stability of Lebanon? Who bears responsibility when the neighboring countries take upon themselves the task of getting rid of the danger that threatens them?”
Bahrain had been the first Arab country to blacklist Iran-backed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in 2013, due to its alleged training of extremist Shiites in the country. Bahrain, though a majority Shiite country, is led by a Sunni monarchy. It was dealing with Shiite unrest at the time.
Perhaps most surprising of all the recent online posts, Bahrain came out in support of Australia’s announcement in December that his country would recognize western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“Australia’s position does not hamper the legitimate demands of the Palestinians and first and foremost East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital,” Khalifa tweeted. “It also does not contradict the Arab Peace Initiative.”
Although Israel and Bahrain have no official diplomatic or economic relations, there have been sporadic official contacts between the countries over the years, especially following the Oslo Accords.
It is, however, the growing tension between Bahrain’s major ally, Saudi Arabia, and Israel’s chief foe Iran which has been the major factor contributing to thawing relations between Israel and Bahrain.
In December 2017, a delegation of Bahraini religious figures from the non-governmental organization “This is Bahrain” arrived to Israel with “a message of peace” from King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. They came at the invitation of two rabbis from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who had met with the Bahraini monarch in February of that year.
During the visit, the king signaled that his countrymen could visit Israel. “Bahraini citizens can go anywhere they want around the world; there are no restrictions on the Bahraini citizens,” he said, according to Betsy Mathieson, president of “This is Bahrain.”
Bahrain is situated on a small archipelago centered around Bahrain Island, between Qatar and the coast of Saudi Arabia, to which it is linked by a 25-kilometer (16 mile) long highway.