IRAN says Bahrain’s ‘despicable’ welcoming of Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid to Manama is at odds with the will of the Bahraini people, stressing that the visit left an ‘unremovable stain’ on the reputation of the tiny Persian Gulf country’s rulers.
In a statement on Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh denounced the move, saying any scheme to bolster the Israeli regime’s ‘destructive presence’ in the region will escalate regional tensions and instability.
Lapid arrived in Bahrain on Thursday to open the Israeli embassy in Manama and sign cooperation deals with the Arab country.
He met Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
Lapid’s visit to Bahrain is aimed at advancing the US-pushed normalisation deals between Israel and a number of Arab countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
The Israeli top diplomat has already opened the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi and promised to establish the regime’s embassy in Rabat soon. However, Sudan’s foreign minister said over the weekend that her country has no plans to open an Israeli embassy in Khartoum.
Khatibzadeh lamented Bahrain’s ignoring of the Zionist regime’s daily atrocities against the oppressed yet resistant people of Palestine.
‘Such actions will not give a boost to the legitimacy of the Zionist regime and will not affect the ideal of liberating al-Quds al-Sharif as the first qibla of the world’s Muslims,’ he said.
The spokesman also emphasised that Bahraini rulers will not be able to remove the mark of disgrace.
‘The people of the region will continue to oppose the process of normalisation of relations with the Zionist regime,’ he added.
‘Ask people’s opinion before you normalise’
On Thursday night, Bahraini people staged protests against Lapid’s visit, holding placards condemning normalisation with Israel.
The protesters shouted ‘Down with Israel’ and ‘Get out of Bahrain’ to protest the normalisation of ties with Israel, local media reported.
Palestinians have denounced the so-called Abraham Accords, calling them a ‘backstab’ and a betrayal of their cause.
Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior leader of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, said Lapid’s visit can be ‘summed up in one word, which is treason’.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s visit to Bahrain has drawn a sharp rebuke from regional resistance groups.
In an interview with Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen, al-Zahar censured the visit as a betrayal ‘first and foremost to God’ and secondly to the people of the Persian Gulf.
‘Before you normalise ties with Israel, ask the people whether they agree with what their leaders are doing or not,’ he said.
He added the leaders of the Arab countries that signed normalisation accords with Israel are pinning their hopes on the US and want to please Washington.
Meanwhile, former Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat said on Thursday night that US President Joe Biden is not quite as committed to the normalisation accords as his predecessor, Donald Trump, was.
‘Biden says the right things, but does not seem as committed as the Trump administration was,’ Ben Shabbat said at a virtual INSS conference.
However, he added that ‘I think eventually the Biden administration will get more involved in the issue, even if it is moving slower than’ the Trump administration.
- President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will seek compensation for its removal from a US-led stealth fighter jet programme, which took place over Ankara’s purchase of advanced S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.
Erdogan made the remarks on his way back from Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on Thursday, where he held a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin a day earlier.
He expressed hope to meet US President Joe Biden at the G20 summit in the Italian capital of Rome next month to discuss the cancelled F-35 project, including a $1.4 billion payment Turkey had made before its expulsion from the programme.
‘We made a $1.4 billion payment, what will become of that?’ Erdogan said. ‘We did not – and do not – earn this money easily. Either they will give us our planes or they will give us the money.’
Biden refused to meet with Erdogan at the UN General Assembly last week.
Erdogan further stressed that Turkey would not step back from its deal to buy S-400 missile systems from Russia, adding that Ankara will proceed with acquiring the advanced air defence units despite US opposition.
‘The S-400 process continues. There is no turning back,’ he said.
A new contract with Turkey on the delivery of the Russian-made S-400 air defence missile system is set to be signed soon.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Erdogan said his talks with Putin focused on steps that would deepen defence cooperation between the two countries, including partnerships for aircraft engines, fighter jets and submarines.
He also said Russia could be involved in the construction of Turkey’s second and third nuclear power plants, and of a space launch platform.
On Wednesday, Erdogan held talks with Putin in Sochi aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and addressing regional security issues, including the situation in Syria.
The two leaders also agreed to continue to work together towards restoring calm in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib.
Turkey and Russia back opposing sides in the Syrian conflict.
- The Islamic Republic of Iran Army Ground Force has started a military exercise in the northwestern part of the country, attended by armoured, artillery, drone, and electronic warfare units under air cover provided by helicopter gunships.
The drill, codenamed Fatehan-e Khaybar (Conquerors of Khaybar), kicked off during a ceremony on Friday, with the commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Force Brigadier General Kioumars Heydari and representatives of the General Staff of the Armed Forces in attendance.
Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles initially flew over the zone, conducted a surveillance and transmitted aerial photographs of the area to the command centre, before the 25th Rapid Reaction Brigade and the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) helicopters carried out a mock air assault.
Iranian Army artillery units then fired a series of rounds at designated targets, and subsequently armoured units carried out strike force operations.
Throughout the Conquerors of Khaybar drills, IRIAF Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters will reportedly provide air support to operating units.
‘The overt and covert presence of the Zionist regime’s proxies and the possibility of a significant number of Daesh terrorists in regional countries add to the importance of this exercise,’ Brigadier General Haydari said.
He added that Daesh militants were brought into the region at the height of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Iranian Army’s Ground Force is set to stage a military exercise in the country’s northwestern region.
‘Since we are not sure whether they have departed the area, the drill will convey a message to them. They and the Zionists must know they have no place in the region, and that the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran are fairly sensitive to them and will deal with them wherever they see them,’ the senior Iranian commander stressed.
He went on to say that various types of home-grown military equipment manufactured by the Islamic Republic of Iran Army and its Ground Forces will be used during the exercise.
Brigadier General Haydari highlighted that four new indigenous military achievements, including a long-endurance drone which can hit its targets with pinpoint accuracy, electronic warfare systems that can be very effective in defence and offence, and two anti-tank rifles will be tested, and their range and accuracy measured during the manoeuvres.
‘We will also evaluate the calibre of indigenous smart artillery shells during the exercise,’ he noted.
Iran’s Armed Forces regularly hold military manoeuvres to elevate their preparedness and military prowess.
The drills serve as a warning message to the enemies against any act of aggression against the Islamic Republic.