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Bahrain FM: Confronting Iran is more important than Palestine

February 15, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa in Manama, Bahrain on 27 October 2018 [STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images]

Confronting “the Iranian threat” is more important than dealing with the Israel-Palestine issue, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said in a panel discussion at this week’s Warsaw Conference, the New Khaliji has reported.

The statements came to light in a video that was briefly uploaded to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official YouTube channel, before being quickly deleted yesterday. Believed to be filmed by an Israeli official, the video also featured Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah Bin Zayed, participating in the discussion.

“We have grown up saying that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the most important issue, and it must be resolved in this way or that, but in the final stages we have seen a greater challenge, the most serious in our modern history, the threat of the Iranian Republic,” Al-Khalifa can be heard saying.

“This is not about the Iranian people, but about the fascist religious regime in Iran, which we face every day,” Al-Khalifa reportedly says, adding that: “Iran smuggled weapons and explosives capable of wiping the Bahraini capital off the face of the earth.”

“This challenge [Iran] must be faced in order to devote [time] to other challenges. But it is this capital [Tehran] that is preventing us from solving it [the Palestinian issue] by forming a threat in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and even Bahrain,” he concludes.

READ: Pence, at summit, lashes out at Europeans over Iran

Also heard in the video was Saudi diplomat Al-Jubeir, who argued that in every place in the region Iran plays a devastating role, citing its support of Hamas in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Al-Jubeir can also be heard condemning Iran’s ballistic missile program, stating that Tehran must be punished for its actions until it promotes peace in the region.

The Warsaw Conference – held in the Polish capital this week – saw delegates from over 60 countries attend what was widely perceived as an attempt by the US to isolate Iran and gather support for Washington’s renewed sanctions against Tehran.

European powers, who oppose US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of a nuclear deal with Iran, were openly sceptical of the summit; France and Germany declined to send their top diplomats, while British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt left before Thursday’s main events. EU policy chief Federica Mogherini, who was a key player in the Iran nuclear deal, also did not attend the two-day conference due to scheduling issues, an EU official said, although US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Brussels today to meet with her.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes a speech during a conference devoted to peace and security in the Middle East in Warsaw, Poland on 12 February 2019 [Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency]

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes a speech during a conference devoted to peace and security in the Middle East in Warsaw, Poland on 12 February 2019 [Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency]

The conference was boycotted by Iranian ally Russia, with the Foreign Ministry stating on social media that the meeting “is a new US attempt to promote its unilateral geopolitical interests through initiatives that are presented as the opinion of the international community”.

Qatar also did not attend the meeting, with Former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim describing it as the “Warsaw wedding ceremony”, seeming to refer to the growing public normalisation of ties between Israel and the Arab world. “I am not against normalization or against opening a relationship with Israel, but the relationship must be equal and not at the expense of Palestinian rights,” he said on Twitter.

READ: Hamas: Warsaw conference participants are ‘traitors’