Appearing to back Israel, Bahrain says strikes on Iran targets ‘self defense’
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Appearing to back Israel, Bahrain says strikes on Iran targets ‘self defense’

‘Iran is the one who has declared a war on us,’ FM Khalifa tweets after Lebanese, Iraqi officials say Jewish state has opened war

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa speaks with the Times of Israel on the sidelines of the Peace to Prosperity workshop in Manama, Bahrain, on June 26, 2019. (Courtesy)
Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa speaks with the Times of Israel on the sidelines of the Peace to Prosperity workshop in Manama, Bahrain, on June 26, 2019. (Courtesy)

Bahrain’s foreign minister appeared to back Israel on Monday after it reportedly struck at Iranian and Iran-backed militias’ installations in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon in recent days.

Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa’s comment came after Lebanese President Michel Aoun and an Iran-backed powerful Iraqi paramilitary force on Monday both said that the respective strikes on their countries had been a “declaration of war” by Israel.

On Twitter, Khalifa said: “Iran is the one who has declared a war on us, with its Revolutionary Guards Corps, its Lebanese party [Hezbollah in Lebanon], its Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, its Houthi arm in Yemen and others.

“So one who strikes and destroys the piles of their ammunition is not to blame. That is self-defense,” he added.

Khalifa also tweeted a picture of Article 51 of Chapter 7 in the United Nations Charter and said it “very clearly affirms the right of states to self-defense against any threat or aggression.”

This photo released by the activist-operated Thiqa News Agency, shows smoke rising after airstrikes hit the town of Ihsem, in Idlib province, Syria, August 26, 2019. (Thiqa News Agency via AP)

The comment was the latest public show of support from the unconventional Gulf diplomat, who has broken longstanding taboos by meeting publicly with Israeli officials and giving interviews to Israeli media outlets.

In May 2018, Khalifa tweeted that Israel had the right to defend itself, after Iran-backed groups shot some 20 rockets at northern Israel from Syria.

Bahrain recently hosted an economic summit for the Palestinians hosted by US President Donald Trump’s administration, billed as part of Washington’s forthcoming Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, during which Khalifa gave an interview to The Times of Israel, saying his country recognizes Israel’s right to exist and wants peace with it.

Tensions have shot up in recent days after Israel carried out airstrikes on Iranian and Iran-backed fighters in Syria to thwart what it said was a plot to fly explosives laden drones into the country.

Mourners carry the coffin with a poster of Abu Ali al-Dabi, a fighter of the Popular Mobilization Forces, who was killed in a drone strike blamed on Israel, during his funeral procession in Baghdad, Iraq, August 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Ali Abdul Hassan)

Jerusalem has also been blamed for airstrikes in Lebanon and Iraq, and Hezbollah terror chief Hassan Nasrallah gave a fiery speech Sunday in which he vowed revenge for the deaths of two of the group’s members.

Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, warned Israel on Sunday that its strikes against Iran would not be tolerated much longer.

“These insane operations will surely be the last steps of the Zionist regime,” he tweeted.

Earlier Sunday Foreign Minister Israel Katz appeared to threaten Soleimani.

“Israel is acting to strike the head of the Iranian snake and uproot its teeth,” Katz said in a Ynet news site interview. “Iran is the head of the snake and Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, is the snake’s teeth.”

Katz said Israel’s airstrikes to thwart the drone attack “conveyed a clear message to Iran and all its supporters that they are not immune from attack, no matter where they are.”

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