update deskMiddle East

Bahrain to explore renewing diplomatic ties with Iran

Bahrain cut relations with Iran in January 2016 following Saudi Arabia's decision to cut ties with Tehran.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayan attends the Summit on Peace in Ukraine at the Burgenstock resort near Lucerne, Switzerland, June 15, 2024. Photo by URS FLUEELER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayan attends the Summit on Peace in Ukraine at the Burgenstock resort near Lucerne, Switzerland, June 15, 2024. Photo by URS FLUEELER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Bahrain and Iran have agreed to explore the possibility of renewing diplomatic ties after more than eight years of strained relations, their foreign ministries announced in a joint press release on Monday.

The statement came after a meeting between acting Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayan at the Asia Cooperation Dialogue summit in Tehran.

According to the joint announcement, “The two sides agreed to establish the necessary mechanisms to start talks between the two countries to examine the resumption of political ties.”

Bahrain cut relations with Iran in January 2016 following Saudi Arabia’s decision to do so, which came after Iranians—angered by Riyadh’s execution of a Shi’ite cleric—set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.

The year prior, Bahrain had already recalled its ambassador from Tehran and ordered the Iranian envoy to leave the country in response to “continuing interference by Iran in the affairs of the Kingdom.”

The announcement came after authorities discovered a bomb-making factory with alleged links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Bahrain normalized relations with Israel in 2020 as part of the Trump administration’s Abraham Accords, which also saw Jerusalem establish official ties with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan.

The Gulf states agreed to establish ties, at least in part, in an attempt to gain new allies against Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.

Last month, an Iranian terror proxy in Bahrain claimed it had launched a suicide drone towards Eilat in Israel, in what would be the first attack from the Gulf state since the start of the current Hamas war on Oct. 7.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has informed the U.N. nuclear watchdog of its plan to install some 1,400 new uranium enrichment centrifuges at a heavily guarded facility.

The expansion at the Fordow enrichment plant could allow the regime to accumulate several bombs’ worth of nuclear fuel every month, according to confidential documents seen by the newspaper.

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