Jizan Attack Exposes the Flaws in Bahrain's New Defense Pact with the US

2023-10-10 - 1:36 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): On September 14, Bahrain inked a fresh defense agreement with the United States. Just four days later, Manama revealed a drone attack in the vicinity of its troops stationed in Jizan, Saudi Arabia, near the Yemeni border, resulting in casualties among Bahraini soldiers.

It may be time for the Bahraini government and its head to acknowledge that this new agreement with the Americans isn't yielding benefits for Bahrain. Despite numerous analyses, they seem to have fallen for the old illusion of an Iranian threat that necessitates their protection.

The drone attack, which claimed the lives of four Bahraini soldiers in Saudi Arabia, exposes the limitations of the United States' commitment to safeguarding the Gulf states.

This incident in Jizan coincided with the United States' efforts to bolster its defense agreements with Bahrain, citing a commitment to regional security. Washington had aspirations of striking similar bilateral agreements with other Gulf nations. This attack could mark the first disappointment in this endeavor.

Following Ansar Allah's denial of responsibility for the attack, there was confusion about who might have sabotaged the talks between Saudi Arabia and Ansar Allah. Elizabeth Kendall, a Senior Research Fellow specializing in Arabic and Islamic studies at Pembroke College, University of Oxford, and a leading expert on the Yemen conflict, tweeted, "After all, there are many actors in the war that contain spoilers eager to help prolong the Saudi-Houthi conflict."

A U.S. military official, familiar with the situation, concurred, stating to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, "There are a lot of incidents that go unreported." However, the killing of Bahraini soldiers on Saudi soil is a significant development.

This attack could be perceived by Gulf capitals as a test of the Biden administration's commitment to their security. Yet, doubts about the US military commitment remain high in Middle Eastern capitals, particularly in the Gulf, particularly in light of Washington's inability to curb Iran's nuclear advancements. It's worth noting that the Yemeni drone reportedly landed in Saudi Arabia, likely falling outside the scope of the Washington-Manama agreement.

Arabic Version