Iran and Bahrain held ‘secret talks’ to restore ties: Report

The Cradle, March 14, 2023 — Iran’s political support for Bahrain’s persecuted Shia majority has prompted Bahraini claims of Iranian intervention.

The UK-based regional news outlet, Amwaj Media, reported on 14 March that Iran and Bahrain have held a number of “low-profile exchanges” in recent months aimed at eventually restoring ties.

The report comes just days after a resumption of relations between Tehran and Riyadh was announced.

“After the reopening of the embassies in Tehran and Riyadh, there will after a short period of time also likely be a normalization between Iran and Bahrain … There is no serious [outstanding] issue between Iran and Bahrain,” a high-ranking regional source was quoted to have told Amwaj Media.

The anonymous source added that the “low-profile exchanges” have not been held at a political level but instead have centered around “administrative and bureaucratic issues.”

“The conditions of respective diplomatic properties and assets have been addressed,” the report further cites the source as saying. After Saudi Arabia reopens its embassy in Tehran, which is expected to take place in the next two months, Bahrain will be the only Gulf country without an envoy in Iran’s capital.

In 2011, Iran strongly condemned Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Bahrain, which aided the Al-Khalifa monarchy’s crackdown on the predominantly Shia anti-government protests. As a result, the two countries expelled each other’s ambassadors. The following year, the Bahraini foreign ministry announced the reinstatement of an Iranian envoy to the Gulf country.

In 2015, Iranian condemnation and expression of political support for Bahrain’s persecuted Shia majority prompted the Gulf state to accuse Tehran of intervening in the country’s affairs, resulting in both sides ending diplomatic representation once again.

A year later, following Riyadh’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran – which resulted in the Saudi-Iranian severing of relations – Manama cut ties with the Islamic Republic.

The Al-Khalifa monarchy is a Sunni ruling minority that governs Bahrain’s Shia majority with an iron fist. It is also known to crack down strongly on dissidents and imprison them without evidence.

The Bahraini kingdom has been known in the past to strip dissidents and Shias of their citizenships, as it did with the leading cleric and exiled spiritual leader of the Al-Wefaq opposition party, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassem.

Tehran has repeatedly condemned the monarchy’s treatment of dissidents and Shias in Bahrain.

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