Bahrain is region’s ‘first trench’ against Iran: National security adviser

Published: Updated:

Bahrain is the “first trench” in the region facing Iran, National Security Adviser and Royal Guard Commander Major-General Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa said on Sunday, following a US official’s remarks that Bahrain is “an island of stability.”

Bahrain “is the first trench in this region facing our common enemy,” Sheikh Nasser told Al Arabiya English in an interview on Sunday at the IISS Manama Dialogue summit, referring to Bahrain’s membership in the US-led International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), which was set up this summer following attacks on commercial shipping vessels. The attacks were widely attributed to Iran.

The IMSC aims to protect merchant ships and ensure freedom of maritime navigation and international trade in the Strait of Hormuz, Bab al-Mandab, Sea of Oman, and the Arabian Gulf. Other member states include Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“With this coalition in the region we are sure that this is the right thing to do to protect the interests of the world and that we continue business as usual,” Sheikh Nasser said.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief General Kenneth McKenzie thanked Bahrain on Saturday for its role in supporting and hosting US forces.

“[Bahrain] is an island of stability that we’ve always been able to count on,” McKenzie said in an interview.

McKenzie said on Saturday Iran has been the primary threat to maritime security in the Middle East in recent months and that the IMSC has proved to be successful in foiling Tehran’s bad actions.

“Had Iran not undertaken those [ship seizure] actions, there might not have been a need for the IMSC. But since it has been operational, none of these actions have occurred,” said McKenzie in an address to the IISS Manama Dialogue summit.

Bahrain announced in October that it will host an international meeting on maritime security in coordination with the US early next year, in a statement posted on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ official Twitter account.