He may have greeted Abu Bluff for the sake of form, but a cable released by Wikileaks reported that Bahrainian King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa told then US ambassador William Monroe in 2005 that he was in touch with the Mossad.
“[The king] revealed that Bahrain already has contacts with Israel at the intelligence/security level (ie with Mossad) and indicated that Bahrain will be willing to move forward in other areas,” the cable said.
The king also told the ambassador that he had ordered his public information minister to stop calling Israel the “enemy” or the “Zionist entity” in official statements of the kingdom, said the cable, which was released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
The Israeli newspapers Haaretz and Yedioth Ahronoth recently published reports based on the cable.
The cable’s revelation comes at a delicate time for Bahrain’s Sunni royal family, which invited troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states last month to help quell an uprising by the country’s Shiite majority.
“In the Arab world, they hate this sort of thing and in Bahrain I’m sure it will be yet another sin [for the opposition] to beat the government with,” said Simon Henderson, a Gulf anaylst for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
“It will also not be particularly welcomed by supporters of the government, even though they might half understand that to counter Iran, the government needs to deal with a whole variety of people,” he said.
Bahraini officials could not be reached for comment.
A leading pro-government lawmaker insisted that the information about contacts with Mossad “cannot be true” because Bahraini intelligence officers “still consider [Israel] an enemy.”
Israel has also had contact with Qatar, Oman and the UAE. Read the whole thing.
But according to cables previously released by WikiLeaks, Israel has maintained covert ties with several Arab states — particularly those in the Persian Gulf, like Bahrain, that fear Iran’s spreading influence.
For example, a March 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv quotes Yaacov Hadas, a senior Israeli foreign ministry official, describing Israel’s growing engagement with the Gulf states.
“Hadas said the Gulf Arabs believe in Israel’s role because of their perception of Israel’s close relationship with the U.S. but also due to their sense that they can count on Israel against Iran. ‘They believe Israel can work magic,’ Hadas commented,” the cable says.
That cable described Israel’s ties with Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, but not Bahrain.