Amid enormous regional and international speculation that Bahrain might be the next Arab state to announce its intention to negotiate a peace deal with Israel, the signals coming out of Manama suggest the Bahrainis are not closing the door, but are not yet ready.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed regional stability and Gulf unity with Bahraini leaders on Wednesday, as part of a Middle East tour following an accord between Israel and the United Arab Emirates on normalizing relations.
But no big announcement was forthcoming. Nor were any hints.
On his arrival on Tuesday night, Pompeo had said it was vital to seize the momentum of the U.S.-brokered deal announced on Aug. 13.
Israel and the United States have said they are pushing more Arab countries to follow the UAE’s path.
Israel’s intelligence minister has mentioned Bahrain as a possible candidate.
Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa said he welcomed U.S. efforts towards the Israel-UAE accord, noting “the importance of re-doubling efforts to realize a just solution which utilizes peace as a strategic option to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” Reuters reported, citing Bahrain’s state news agency, BNA.
Pompeo also met the king of Bahrain, the foreign minister and Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the king’s son who was appointed national security advisor in October.
The king and Pompeo discussed developing bilateral relations, with the king stressing the importance of intensifying efforts to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict, BNA said.
Bahrain welcomed the UAE-Israel accord soon after it was announced and said it raised the chances of peace.
“We discussed the importance of building regional peace and stability, including the importance of Gulf unity and countering Iran’s malign influence in the region,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter after meeting the crown prince.
Pompeo visited Jerusalem and Sudan before Bahrain and is now in the UAE.