Signal to Iran: Gantz signs historic defense agreement with Bahrain

Both Bahrain and the UAE are threatened by Iran and know that in Israel they have a strong ally who can help them with their national defenses.

By Gil Tanenbaum, TPS

Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz held official meetings on Thursday with His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain in the royal palace. He also signed a historic defense Meorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two countries with his Bahraini counterpart, Minister of Defense Affairs, H.E. LTG. Abdullah Bin Hassan Al Noaimi, at the Bahrain Defense Forces Headquarters in Manama.

The commander of the Bahrain Defense Forces (BDF) H.E. Field Marshal, Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa was also present for the signing ceremony.

Gantz landed Wednesday afternoon in Manama, Bahrain, for the first official visit to the Kingdom ever made by an Israeli minister of defense. A formal welcome ceremony was held for him at Bahrain International Airport.

One year after the signing of the groundbreaking Abraham Accords in the summer of 2020, Israel and Bahrain formalized defense relations.

The new MoU framework signed Thursday will support any future cooperation in the areas of intelligence, mil-to-mil, industrial collaboration and more. Mil to mil relations consist of military training and liaison exchanges between members of the armed forces of different nations. They can include joint exercises and senior level consultations.

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It has often been said that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” or at least ally as the case may be. During World War II, the U.S. and UK did not hesitate to ally themselves with the communist Soviet Union against Germany. As Winston Churchill so aptly put it, “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

Today, the common enemy is Iran. As with Nazi Germany, Iran also threatens the entire world, but with the possibility that it may soon acquire nuclear capabilities. And Israel has been taking the lead in warning the world about the Iranian threat. A nuclear-armed Iran could blackmail all of its neighboring oil rich states, supply weapons of mass destruction to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, or threaten the entire world by putting nuclear warheads on North Korean-made long range missiles.

In another sign of Iranian aggression, the Iranian-supported Yemeni terrorist Houthis group recently launched missiles at the United Arab Emirates from their bases in Yemen, located at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.

Both Bahrain and the UAE are threatened by Iran and know that in Israel they have a strong ally who can help them with their national defenses. The U.S. has military bases in the Gulf, including in Bahrain, and shares with Israel and the Gulf states concern about a nuclear capable Iran.

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Earlier in the day, Gantz paid an official visit to the U.S. 5th Fleet headquarters based in Bahrain, where he held a working meeting, together with the Bahraini Minister of Defense Commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command (CENTCOM) and the Fifth Fleet Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, and Commander of the Israeli Navy David Sa’ar Salama.

He also had a tour of the USS Cole, which is docked at a port less than 200 km away from Iran.

In 2000, the Cole was famously attacked by al Qaeda terrorists in a suicide bombing conducted from a small boat that rammed into the ship while it was docked in a port in Yemen.

During their meeting, Minister Gantz thanked the king for hosting the Israeli delegation and conveyed the importance of the Israel-Bahrain relationship. Gantz expressed his appreciation for His Majesty’s support for the expansion of ties between Israel and Bahrain and highlighted the great achievement of the defense MoU signed today.

Minister Gantz also told those assembled that he anticipates that future cooperation between Israel and Bahrain will strengthen the defense forces of both nations and contribute to regional security and stability in the face of emerging threats in the region and terror groups that continue to strengthen technologically and militarily.

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Without stating the obvious, Gantz was clearly referring to Iran and its client terrorist groups that do its bidding.

Gantz added that the two nations “have reached new heights today in Israel-Bahrain relations with the important meetings that took place and with the signing of the historic MoU. We are building on the groundbreaking Abraham Accords and deepening ties between our nations.”