Iranian-sponsored terrorism in Bahrain expected to rise to stop deal with Israel
Iranian-sponsored terrorism in Bahrain is expected to increase to capsize the normalization trend with Israel, a new intelligence report obtained first by The Jerusalem Post said Thursday.
“Our estimate is that the deal could increase the motivation of Iran and of terror organizations in Bahrain, which it sponsors, to try to increase the public threat level, including to attack Bahrain’s rulers and to thwart implementation of the deal,” the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report said.
The process of normalization with Israel could effectively spell the end of a relatively quiet three-year hiatus from problems between Bahrain’s Sunni minority rulers and the disempowered Shi’ite majority, it said.
Noting Bahrain’s September 20 announcement of busting a major terrorist cell, the Meir Amit Center said the spike in threats from Iran-affiliated terrorist groups may already be here.
Only days after Bahrain signed a declaration with Israel on September 15, signaling its intent to move toward full normalization, Manama said the terrorist cell had planned to attack Bahraini officials, security installations and economic centers.
Iran and its proxies were said to be carrying out these attacks to avenge the US’s January assassination of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.
Though Bahrain’s statement did not mention the US, significant American military forces stationed in Bahrain are one of many Iranian complaints with the country’s Sunni monarchy.
The terrorist groups arrested by the Bahraini government likely had been tracked for an extended period of time, the report said.
Though the timing of announcing the arrests likely was connected to the September 15 signing ceremony with Israel, the terrorist plots, tracking them and maybe even the arrests themselves might have occurred significantly earlier, it said.
If so, the timing of the announcement would be a sign from Bahrain’s rulers to try to show they have control of the country and to deter Iran and its proxies, the report said.
The first round of conflict between Bahrain and Iran and its proxies was in 1981, after Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The Islamic Republic has always wanted to “flip” Bahrain into being another Shi’ite-dominated country, hoping to use the Shi’ite majority to its benefit.
From 2011-2017, there was extended conflict within Bahrain, with Shi’ite terrorist groups working with Iran and Hezbollah to carry out a large number of attacks.
By 2018, Bahrain, with the help of the Saudis, had crushed most of the violent opposition, using both force and cracking down on aspects of political opposition in the country.
Another major turning point, the report noted, was April 2019, when 139 anti-regime activists were given extended prison sentences.
Unlike the United Arab Emirates, where the public and social media have been supportive of the new deal with Israel, there have been significant public protests and social-media criticism within Bahrain of the move to normalize ties.