Israel said to agree to sell Bahrain UAVs, anti-drone systems

WSJ cites Bahrain official who says Mossad spy agency is already helping train Bahraini counterparts; report doesn’t specify what type of equipment would be in deal

Israeli military drones fly in formation in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli military drones fly in formation in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel has agreed to sell unmanned aircraft and anti-drone systems to Bahrain, according to a report Tuesday, with Jerusalem set to report progress on an initiative to form a Mideast military alliance to counter Iran.

The Wall Street Journal report cited a senior Bahraini official saying that the Mossad and Shin Bet have been working with Manama in recent months to train its intelligence officers.

The same official told the Wall Street Journal that Israel has agreed to sell drones as well as anti-drone systems to the country.

The report did not specify what type of drone or defense equipment would be in the deal.

Iran-backed groups have been accused of attacking Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries with attack drones, sometimes crashing them into oil refining facilities, airports and elsewhere.

Israel and Bahrain normalized ties in 2020 as part of the US-sponsored Abraham Accords that also established diplomatic relations between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates. The accord paved the way for normalization with Morocco months later.

Continuing the work started by the his predecessor, US President Joe Biden’s administration is aiming to further expand cooperation between Israel and Arab nations, in particular Saudi Arabia, a key player in the region.

The Journal previously reported on a US-organized defense summit in Egypt that was attended by top officials from Israel and aligned Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, with the aim of establishing an alliance to counter threats from Iran.

Biden is due to visit Israel on Wednesday and from there head to Saudi Arabia.

On Monday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Monday that Israel would bring Biden up to speed on progress toward building a regional military alliance.

Gantz has spoken of US-led efforts to establish a regional air defense pact between Israel and its Arab allies in the region, against the threat of Iranian drones and missiles. The countries in such an alliance would reportedly include United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

The pact, dubbed by Gantz, “MEAD — Middle East Air Defense,” is meant to connect air defense systems to combat Iran’s increasing use of drones and missiles in the Middle East.

Gantz said last week that there may be a possible “breakthrough” in the efforts during Biden’s upcoming visit to Israel, the West Bank, and Saudi Arabia, set to begin Wednesday.

A senior Israeli official said late Tuesday that tangible developments in the budding Israel-Saudi relationship will be announced during Biden’s visit.

The official said that Israel was operating as if “the steps we are taking now will only be the beginning, the start of the process of normalization between the countries.”

However, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan played down hopes for a breakthrough in a briefing to reporters at the White House on Monday.

Responding to recent chatter about the potential regional cooperation against his country, a senior Iranian officer said Monday the efforts were doomed to fail, citing a Saudi-led alliance’s difficulties fighting Iran backed rebels in Yemen.

“It is quite easy to predict the possible fate of the [so-called] Arab NATO,” Brigadier General Yadollah Javani said, according to the state-run Press TV. “Compared to the past coalitions, the new alliance will be even weaker and lack effectiveness in the face of the resistance front and the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Iran has also threatened to hit the UAE and Bahrain if they allow Israeli military installations in their territory, the report said.

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