On Sunday Oct. 18, 2020, in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, the United States, Israel, and Bahrain officially signed a ground-breaking agreement on joint cooperation.
Seconds after the document was signed, an Israeli official handed the Bahraini foreign minister a note.
The note contained an official request for Bahrain to open an Israeli embassy.
The request did not surprise the Bahrainis. It would be a simple procedure.
And that’s because the infrastructure was already in place. There has been a "secret" Israeli embassy in Bahrain since 2009.
The idea was hatched two years earlier, in 2007, when then-Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her Bahraini counterpart, Khaled Bin Ahmad al-Khalifa, began engaging in a series of secret meetings.
The secret embassy had been set up as a development consultancy, working to help non-oil companies advance business deals in Bahrain. The company was called "The Center for International Development" and was registered with the Bahraini Ministry of Commerce on July 13, 2009. In truth, it was an open secret, clear to anyone who looked beneath the surface.
This Israeli business consultancy in Bahrain was a front for Israeli diplomats.
Just look at the makeup of their board.
On the board were Israeli diplomats who now serve as Israel’s Counsel General in Mumbai, Israel’s Foreign Ministry Cyber Coordinator and the Israeli Deputy Director of Economic Affairs. They all had false backgrounds and they all had LinkedIn pages.
All, with the proverbial wink and a nod.
Bahrain and Israel have been secretly engaged in economic development, anti-terror coordination, and anti-Iranian strategy for over a decade.
The state of Israel has also been in Bahrain focusing on the fields of medical technology, renewable energy, food security and IT and cybersecurity.
That is essential to understand.
The change in status of Bahrain and Israel, from foe to friend, is a simple issue of timing.
The confluence of good timing and machinations and movement around the world and especially in the Mideast, is allowing and even stimulating change.
Bahrain, Israel and the United States are a prime example.
But not all change is for the better. And sometimes, in the world of diplomacy, one country’s bad decision becomes a welcome opportunity for another.
Take Qatar, for example.
In 2007 Qatar closed itself to Israel and to the rest of the Sunni world and joined forces with Iran. Israel had spent significant energies in Qatar.
They had an official office in Doha.
But Qatar had a change of heart.
Qataris began to believe that Iran should be brought into the circle of Islamic countries. And Iran believes that they — a Shiite nation, should lead the Muslim world. Sunnis - especially Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain reject this idea.
Bahrain, acutely aware of the advantages of an affiliation with Israel, successfully advanced relations with Israel and filled the void that Qatar had left behind.
And that’s how, together with the help of the White House, on Sunday October 18th, Israel, Bahrain and the United States joined together and signed eight separate agreements.
The most significant of the agreements is entitled "Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic, Peaceful, and Friendly Relations."
The Joint Communiqué is a statement of normalization and business agreements.
It is almost, but not quite, a treaty. With the signing of the “Communique” diplomatic relations between Bahrain and Israel officially came out in the open.
Secret diplomacy has been part of world diplomacy for centuries, even millennium.
Even between the Arab world and the modern Jewish State.
Like all of diplomacy,when it works, the world becomes a better place, but secret diplomacy does not always have a happy, storybook ending.
Israel and Jordan had secret diplomacy since the first years of the Jewish State.
Golda Meir secretly met King Hussein at least 11 times. Shimon Peres also secretly met with King Hussein as did many other israeli leaders.
They met in Tel Aviv, in Amman and in various European cities. Eventually these clandestine meetings resulted in a peace treaty, signed in October 1994.
There were serious bumps along the road. There were times Israel could not convince the King to sit still and not join with the other Arab nations in their campaign against Israel.
Bahrain has learned from the mistakes of others.
Kudos to Bahrain.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.
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