Bahrain warms to Israel: Iran ‘our biggest problem’

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Gulf states are looking to improve relations with Israel while sending a message to Iran that it is “our biggest problem,” Bahrain’s foreign minister said.

Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said several Gulf states decided to cut ties with Iran and designate Hizbullah a terror organization to let Teheran know that “we are serious in confronting them.”

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa. /Reuters
Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa. /Reuters

Al Khalifa made the comments in an interview on March 31 with the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV that was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

When asked whether Iran was a larger threat than Israel to Gulf states’ security, Al Khalifa said Gulf states “wish to have good relations with both,” but that the danger they are facing now comes from Iran which, he said, is “our biggest problem at this point in time.”

Al Khalifa’s comments on Israel sparked the interest of many analysts, as they come amid reports that Israel has increased its contacts with the Gulf states.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said in mid-February at the Munich Security Conference in Germany that Israel was carrying out secret contacts with Arab countries in the Persian Gulf.

Last month it was reported that a top-level Israeli delegation that included a senior political figure visited Saudi Arabia, though further details were not divulged.

Bahrain in 2013 became the first Arab country to blacklist Hizbullah.