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Bahrain joins Gulf allies in condemning killing of Iran nuclear scientist

Despite rivalry, kingdom calls on all parties to exercise ‘maximum restraint’ to prevent ‘new levels of instability’ that could threaten peace

Members of Iranian forces pray around the coffin of slain nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during the burial ceremony at Imamzadeh Saleh shrine in northern Tehran, on November 30, 2020. (HAMED MALEKPOUR / TASNIM NEWS / AFP)
Members of Iranian forces pray around the coffin of slain nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during the burial ceremony at Imamzadeh Saleh shrine in northern Tehran, on November 30, 2020. (HAMED MALEKPOUR / TASNIM NEWS / AFP)

The Bahraini government on Monday condemned the assassination of nuclear scientist and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was said to be leading Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, joining other Gulf countries traditional seen as rivals of Iran.

Iran has explicitly accused Israel of being responsible for the attack and threatened to exact revenge for it.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed the need for concerted efforts to reduce tension, prevent escalation in the region and ensure stability and security. In light of the current situation in the region, the Kingdom of Bahrain calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint to avoid new levels of instability in the region that threaten peace,” the Bahraini Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state media.

In the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Oman have all condemned the assassination. Israel recently normalized relations with the UAE and Bahrain and is seeking to also open diplomatic ties with Oman.

The countries, along with Saudi Arabia, have reportedly grown closer to Israel in recent years spurred by a shared interest in opposing Iran and its proxies. Israeli officials have reportedly expressed fears that Iran may attempt to exact revenge by attacking Israelis in the UAE or Bahrain.

Jordan, which made peace with Israel just over 25 years ago, has also denounced the shooting of Fakhrizadeh.

This photo released by the semi-official Fars News Agency shows the scene where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran, Iran, November 27, 2020. (Fars News Agency via AP)

The roadside ambush of Fakhrizadeh’s convoy on Friday also drew wide international condemnation.

The United Nations and European Union criticized the operation — without naming Israel — saying it inflamed tensions in the region. Some American Democrats have also spoke out against the raid, saying it appeared to be an effort to hobble efforts by US President-elect Joe Biden to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal, a move that Jerusalem staunchly opposes along with several Sunni Arab states.

Fakhrizadeh died Friday after his car and bodyguards were targeted in a bomb and gun attack on a major road outside the capital, heightening tensions once more between Tehran and its foes.

Iran’s top security official, Rear-Admiral Ali Shamkhani of the Supreme National Security Council, said Monday the “operation was very complex, using electronic equipment, and no one was present at the scene.”

He pointed the finger at Israel and accused a dissident group of assisting in the attack.

Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in an undated photo. (Courtesy)

Without citing sources, Iran’s Fars news agency reported the attack had been carried out with the help of “a remote-controlled automatic machine gun” mounted on a pickup truck.

While Israel remained officially silent on the killing of Fakhrizadeh and its alleged role in it, an Israeli minister publicly praised the results of the operation.

“The assassination in Iran, whoever did it, it serves not only Israel, but the whole region and the world,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Kan public broadcaster on Sunday.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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