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Israeli Writer: Bahraini Foreign Minister Paid Price for his Public Support for Israel

2020-01-18 - 8:33 p

Bahrain Mirror: An Israeli writer said that the former Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, who publically defended Israel, may have paid the price for this support, as he was replaced after 15 years. Khalid Al Khalifa was the very first to have his photo taken with his Israeli counterpart. Besides, he severely attacked Iran and spoke to Israeli media.

Raphael Ahren added in his report on the "Times of Israel" website that Israeli experts told him that the Bahraini minister paid the price of these stances, because he went too far in supporting Israel that hopes his reshuffling won't affect the good relations with Bahrain.

"As Israeli leaders continue to enthuse over the Jewish state's growing rapprochement with parts of the Arab world, one of the most visible proponents of this process - the only senior Gulf official who has repeatedly defended not only Israel's right to exist but its right to defend itself militarily - is being removed from his post," Raphael stated.

He also said "Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, who has held his position since 2005, is being replaced by Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, the tiny Gulf nation's monarch decided earlier this month. The reasons for the veteran top diplomat's sudden ouster are unclear. The reshuffle will take effect in April, after Zayani concludes his current term as secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Khalifa, who has repeatedly made headlines for his pro-Israel statements and gestures, will leave the foreign ministry and assume a new and hitherto undefined role as "adviser for diplomatic affairs" to King Hamad."

"We need to be very careful and not jump to conclusions. But this foreign minister has in recent years been very pro-Israel," said Yoel Guzansky, a senior researcher at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies who focuses on the Gulf states.

The writer wondered whether Bahrainis are afraid of the growing power of Iran and its allies in the region, or are they unsure of the U.S. announcement of the political part of the deal of the century, after the announcement of the economic part at the Bahrain summit last year, and perhaps the Saudis warned them to say that their foreign minister went too far in declaring his pro-Israel positions. All these reasons may have been behind Al Khalifa dismissal.

Simon Henderson, a leading expert on Bahrain at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Al Khalifa's reshuffling was not unlikely in light of his public pro-Israel positions and his hostility to Qatar and Iran. Thus, his change would necessarily lead to a serious change in Bahrain's foreign policy, and Al-Zayani may be more cautious.

"Noting the fact that Khalifa wouldn't have dared to position himself as Israel-friendly without a green light from the royal palace, some analysts assume that Manama will continue its general course of rapprochement with Jerusalem - but perhaps with a lower public profile," he added.

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