Visiting Israel, a senior Bahraini diplomat slammed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Sunday, saying it only helped to create chaos across the Middle East.
Bahrain’s Undersecretary for International Relations Sheikh Abdullah bin Ahmad al-Khalifa said Bahrain had hoped the accord, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), “would open up a new page for Iran and the region.
“But on the contrary, it has fueled crises across the Middle East. It has increased the number of refugees that have fled into Europe. It has caused more instigation of extremism and hatred in many different regions across the Middle East.”
"I did not see a single positive thing coming out of this agreement and I'm sure the Biden administration is aware of the concerns in the region and the messages he had received from Gulf states," Khalifa said during a four-day visit to Israel during which he will meet the president, prime minister and foreign minister.
In a press briefing held in Jerusalem, Khalifa said that Iranian aggression in the region persists.
"In any crisis in the Middle East, we can point to the involvement of Iran and its proxies. We want to see Iran stable, secure, prosperous and responsible - and we do not see that. The nuclear deal focused only on the nuclear issue, but ignored other issues that troubled the region: Tehran's ballistic missiles and aggressive behavior.
Khalifa noted that Bahrain recognizes Iran's repeated attempts to intervene in the kingdom's internal affairs through support of extremists and involvement in smuggling of arms, explosives and drugs, risking the country's security and stability while killing dozens of civilians and security personnel and injuring thousands more in internal clashes.
"When you look at the crises in the Middle East, you can see Iran's fingerprints everywhere. Unfortunately, the agreement did not address Iran's aggressive behavior and its ballistic missile program," he said.
Referring to the recent attack on the Israeli-managed oil tanker Mercer Street, Khalifa said that Bahrain would insist on maintaining the safety of shipping and the freedom of maritime traffic in the area.
"For years, Bahrain has worked closely with its allies, the United States in particular, and hosts the Joint Command to safeguard freedom of navigation. We take care of the shores of more than 20 countries and fight piracy and human, weapon and drug trafficking.
"The recent attacks we have seen are nothing new. There is great concern for trade, the security of the energy industry, and the free movement of goods. We remain committed to cooperating with our allies and maintaining stability. "
Israel and Bahrain agreed to normalize ties last year with the Abraham Accords brokered by then-U.S. President Donald Trump.
The sheikh said that there will be a festive event to mark the first anniversary of the agreement and that the first Bahraini ambassador, Khaled Yousef al-Jalahmah, would soon arrive in Israel, and a team of diplomats had already arrived in Israel to prepare the ground for his arrival.
"We are approaching the first anniversary of the agreement and the friendly relations between Bahrain and Israel, and we are coming here with a message of peace and prosperity."
"In the last ten months we have achieved a lot, we have always believed that working closely with the countries of the region and building bridges for peace and prosperity is the way to move forward and that reflects the king's vision. We have a long way to go, we have tried to learn more about the Jewish people and are aware that there is much more to do.
We understand that there are more challenges, and that the whole world is looking at the relations between the countries also through questioning them, but we are committed to making the relations as successful as possible and optimistic about the opportunities that are yet to come. "
Khalifa promised that direct flights of the national airline "Gulf Air" from Bahrain to Tel Aviv would be arranged later this year, after the direct route was postponed several times due to the pandemic.
"We are determined and committed, and Bahrain will support any initiative that builds new bridges and expands the Abraham Accords, which include values we all share. It's something big and historic," he said.