Iran warns Persian Gulf countries about security ties with Israel

June 11, 2022 - 20:55

TEHRAN – A senior Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) commander has issued a stark warning to some neighboring Arab states about giving Israel a foothold in the Persian Gulf. 

Commander of the IRGC Navy Force Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri has reiterated Iran’s longstanding concerns about the growing trend of normalization between Israel and some Persian Gulf’s Arab states. Speaking during a surprise visit to a strategic island just a hop from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Iranian general warned that bringing Israel to the Persian Gulf would result in instability in this strategically important region.

“Today, there is desirable security in the geographical area of the Persian Gulf thanks to cooperation and synergy among the neighboring countries. [But] if someone for any kind of reason brings the wretched, child-murdering, number-one-enemy Zionist regime to this region, he will destabilize, disturb and create insecurity for both himself and this region,” General Tangsiri said in a Saturday visit to the Greater Tunb Island. 

He added, “We advise our friendly and brotherly neighbors in the Persian Gulf not to establish contact with the Zionist regime [Israel]. Because this will harm the security of the region.”

The warning appears to be directed at the UAE and Bahrain as they are the only Persian Gulf states which have normalized diplomatic relations with Israel. It also comes against a backdrop of growing security contacts among Israel, Persian Gulf Arab states, and the United States intended to foster a security alliance vis-à-vis Iran. 

On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett paid a surprise visit to the UAE and met with the Arab country’s president, Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan. In their meeting, Bennett said Israel was looking forward to “working jointly with the UAE to expand cooperation horizons in the coming period,” according to the UAE state news agency WAM. “During the meeting, the UAE president and Israeli prime minister discussed cooperation paths and development opportunities in various investment, economic, and development sectors as well as food security and health fields, and other vital sectors to achieve the future aspirations of the two countries,” WAM said. 

Simultaneously, Israeli media launched a campaign to portray the visit as aimed at jointly countering Iran. To this end, Israeli media reported that Israel has deployed radar systems to the UAE and Bahrain with the purpose of closely monitoring Iranian activity. 

Also, Western media followed a similar line. The Wall Street Journal reported that a bipartisan bill introduced in Congress on Thursday called for the Pentagon to work with Israel and several Arab states to integrate air defenses to thwart alleged threats from Iran.

This comes at a time when Iran is in the midst of diplomatic talks with Saudi Arabia and possibly the UAE to mend fences and open a new chapter in bilateral relations after years of tensions. Iran and Saudi Arab held five rounds of talks since April 2021 with the last one witnessing a breakthrough in terms of moving the talks to a new level. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who acted as a go-between in the Iran-Saudi talks, has recently said the talks reached an advanced stage. 

Meanwhile, Iranian President Ayatollah Seyed Ebrahim Raisi reportedly has a trip to the UAE on his agenda. He has already paid visits to Qatar and Oman and is expected to travel to the UAE. But the growing contact between Israel and the Persian Gulf’s Arab states could dampen hopes for any incoming thaw in Iran’s relations with its Persian Gulf Arab neighbors. Because Iran has made it clear that it views Israel's presence on its doorstep as a major threat to its security.

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