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Bahraini official: Iran proxies ‘nothing new,’ nuclear deal ‘critical’ to combat ‘common threat’


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Abdulla Al Khalifa, undersecretary for political affairs of Bahrain, insisted that Iran has not acted as a “responsible” neighbor and threatens the stability of the Middle East as it continues to act “with impunity.” 

“Iran has been acting with impunity for the past 40 years,” Khalifa told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the Aspen Security Forum last week. “My country, Bahrain, has been part of Iran’s continuous interference in their neighbors’ affairs.”

“We do believe that Iran is an important neighbor in the region but a responsible Iran that would respect the borders of its neighbors, that would refrain from developing its nuclear and ballistic capabilities, and that would refrain from supporting terrorism and extremism,” he added.

Khalifa previously discussed concerns over Iran’s ambition to achieve a nuclear weapon even though it will affect neighboring countries “in a very dramatic way.” 

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But a potential nuclear weapon is just one of many destabilizing activities with which Iran engages as it continues to cause problems in the region: Khalifa highlighted Tehran’s penchant for developing and funding proxies in neighboring countries, including the Houthis, who operate in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

“It’s nothing new that Iran is doing,” Khalifa insisted, pointing to the 1981 coup attempt by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) against Bahrain, which Iran has consistently denied funding but Bahrain continues to attribute to Tehran. 

FILE - Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, left, and U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain William Roebuck, right, greet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center, as he arrives at Bahrain International Airport in Manama, Bahrain, April 6, 2016.

FILE – Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, left, and U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain William Roebuck, right, greet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center, as he arrives at Bahrain International Airport in Manama, Bahrain, April 6, 2016.
(Jonathan Ernst/Pool via AP)

He backed the Iran nuclear deal that President Biden has tried to resurrect, calling it “the critical portfolio” that could help address “the common threat that all of us view.” 

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“Oct. 9, 2006, the world woke up to the news that North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon. It was the reality,” Khalifa said. “Until now, the world is facing its consequences.”

FILE - President Donald Trump meets with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017.

FILE – President Donald Trump meets with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017.
(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

“What if one day we all wake up to the news that Iran has tested its first nuclear weapon? What will happen next?” he said.

Another key piece in that security strategy rests in the Abraham Accords, which Bahrain moved to sign after Israel and United Arab Emirates initially signed after negotiations led by the Trump administration. 

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Khalifa praised the agreement as another instance of the long-standing relationship between the U.S. and Bahrain — one that has led to improved relations with other countries in the region.

“Having the United States as an advocate to not only put the Abraham Accords together but to bring Bahrain to sign the establishment of joint bilateral relations with Israel is a matter that we appreciate very much with the United States,” he said. 

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“We believe those who have relations with Israel would enhance a resolution to the conflict, and we believe having a two-state solution whereby the Palestinians will have their own independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital is the way forward.”

Fox News’ Kelsey Koberg contributed to this report.

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