This episode of 10 minutes reveals how Israel is forging clandestine ties with certain Persian Gulf Arab states.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00
Narration: Back in December 2016, a video went viral on the social media. Orthodox Jews in black coats and skullcaps dancing with Arabs in flowing robes and checkered kaffiyehs The footage featured at a Hanukkah celebration in Manama, the capital city of Bahrain. A tiny Persian Gulf monarchy. King Hamad marked Hanukkah for the first time back in 2015. In recent years Al Khalifah regime has embraced the dwindling Jewish community warmly. Bahrain’s King has added Jews to his Shura Council, which advises him. Back in 2008 King Hamad even appointed a Jewish woman as Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States.
He has announced that his regime will allow Jews and other minority groups to live peacefully in Bahrain, home to fewer than 50 Jews. King Hamad’s comments have already been slammed as hypocritical by rights activists who have condemned Bahraini regime’s deadly crackdown on dissidents. The Persian Gulf monarchy has been witnessing peaceful anti-regime protests held almost on a regular basis since 2011.
The protesters want nothing more than their basic social right, that is democracy and an end to what they call systematic discrimination and oppression.
Scores of Bahraini protesters have been killed in Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown over the past six years. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain’s regional ally has helped Manama suppress the democratic uprising. Riyadh is fearful that protests in neighboring Bahrain could spread to the oil-rich Kingdom which has already been rattled with protests. Saudi Arabia has already crushed any voice of dissent in a deadly crackdown.
Bahrain's Al Khalifah regime is accused of committing serious rights violations including torture, arbitrary arrests as well as use of excessive force against peaceful protesters.
But thanks to its strategic significance, which has drawn the attention of ultra-regional militaries, its dismal human rights record has drawn little condemnation from the so-called international community.
The Persian Gulf State is close to Strait of Hormuz, which is situated in Iran's territorial waters, in a narrow waterway between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula through which 40 percent of the world's seaborne crude oil passes. Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s fifth fleet.
Also, the British military is building a permanent naval base in Bahrain.
The US and the UK silence on the Bahraini regime’s repression of any voice of dissent is perceived as continued support for government atrocities.
Rights campaigners argue London and Washington’s policies reveal their commitment to military expansion in the Persian Gulf at the cost of human rights.
SOUNDBITE [English] Scott Richard, Former American Intelligence Linguist: “Certainly, you have majority of population in Bahrain rise up peacefully, much more peacefully than we saw in Syria, and at the same time no one in the international community came to the aid of Bahrainis as they rise up against the monarchy that rules. And that monarchy, does not allow any type of opposition by the world, in fact, the United States and Saudi Arabia and all the allies that ganged up on Syria absolutely supported the monarchy in Bahrain and at the same time many many Bahrainis were murdered and many were incarcerated and many were tried and put to death.”
Narration: Both the US and the UK seek to maintain a permanent presence in the Persian Gulf under the pretext of protecting Persian Gulf Arab States against a fabricated threat that is Iran.
SOUNDBITE [English] Theresa May, UK Prime Minister: "I want to assure you that I am clear-eyed about the threat that Iran poses to the Gulf and the wider Middle East. The UK is fully committed to our strategic partnership with the Gulf and working with you to counter that threat, but we must also work together to push back against Iran…”
Narration:Such allegations come against the backdrop of the fact that Iran, which is seen as the most stable country in the Middle East, has constantly emphasized good neighbor policy as part of efforts to boost regional peace and security.
TIME CODE: 05:00_10:11
Narration: Iran, a sovereign state which has never launched a war in over 200 years, has made it clear that its military capacities are defensive in nature and pose no threats to regional countries.
However, certain Arab states along with Israel, have spared no efforts to mount an Iranphobia campaign aimed at containing Tehran’s regional influence.
Much to their consternation, Tehran managed to resolve the standoff over its nuclear energy program through active diplomacy.
Israel and certain Persian Gulf Arab states including Saudi Arabia have been the fiercest critics of the historic nuclear deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.
Now, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently admitted that Israel and the Arab states are already sharing intelligence as part of attempts to develop an anti-Iran alliance.
SOUNDBITE [English] Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister: “All I can tell you is that Israel’s position in the Arab world has changed because they no longer see Israel as their enemy, but as their ally, in their indispensable battle against the forces of militant Islam, either those led by Iran, the Shiites, or-- and those led by Daesh – by ISIS, the militant Sunnis.”
Interview [English] Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister: “-We hear that you have dramatically improved your relationship with Egypt. Is that correct?
- Saudi Arabia?
- I have to ask you, because it’s the most fascinating of all: Israel and Saudi Arabia. Are you actually developing an anti-Iran alliance in the Middle East?
- Doesn’t have to be developed. It’s there anyway.”
Narration: There are already indications that Israel is expanding clandestine ties with Arab monarchies in the Middle East.
On November 27, 2015, Israel opened its first diplomatic mission in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Israeli military officials have engaged in covert dialogues with their Saudi counterparts.
Qatar has also tried to revive unofficial diplomatic relations with Israel. Reports suggest that Persian Gulf Arab states have signed covert deals with the Israeli defense contractors to gain access to Israel's military technology.
In 2011, Israeli companies sold an estimated $300 million of military technology to the UAE. The Emirati government used Israeli military technology to secure the UAE’s oil wells.
Israeli media outlets have reported that the Israeli military has offered Saudi Arabia Iron Dome military technology to defend Saudi territory from Yemeni rocket launches.
In April 2016, to no one surprise, Israel supported Egypt’s planned handover of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia .
The Israeli Ministry of military affairs confirmed that Riyadh had given Israeli policymakers written assurances of the continued safety of the Straits of Tiran, Israel's only access from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Red Sea.
The expansion of ties between Israel and the Persian Gulf Arab States can be explained by the Arab monarchies dwindling concern about Palestine.
They have tacitly withdrawn support for the groups opposing the occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel in an apparent effort to undermine resistance movements.
The candle-lighting ceremony to mark the Jewish festival of Hanukkah which was held at King Hamad's palace is viewed by some observers as a litmus test for Muslims' reaction further expansion of ties between Israel and Arab states.
SOUNDBITE [English] Scott Richard, Former American Intelligence Linguist: “It’s an interesting situation because the Americans have used Bahrain for their fifth fleet, you know since world war II, They have obviously been very close to Bahrain, Very close with Israel at that time, intelligence flows freely, between the United States, Israel and Bahrain and Saudi Arabia even…”
Narration: It could be part of a hidden campaign by Saudi Arabia which is now testing waters for forging overt ties with Israel to strengthen an anti-Iran alliance in the region.
There are growing concerns that such attempts by certain Arab countries may further destabilize the turbulent Middle East region, embolden Israel and give an end to the Palestinian cause in a foreseeable future.
It’s yet to be seen when the despotic rulers will come to the conclusion that stability can only be achieved via responding to their own people’s demands rather than developing alliance with Muslim’s enemies to counter a fabricated threat.