Israeli Army Chief Travels to Bahrain for First Official Trip

Aviv Kohavi, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, traveled for his first official trip to Bahrain on Wednesday. Kohavi traveled to the Gulf state with the military official Tal Kelman, who is in charge of the Iran file. Some other senior commanders were also traveling with him, as per the statement of the IDF. Theyab bin Saqr al-Nuaimi, the chief of the Bahraini Defense Forces, had greeted Kohavi. The IDF said that he would also have a sit down with the Secretary-General of the Supreme Defense Council, Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, along with other state and senior military officials in Bahrain. 

Even though it is an official visit, the image that was published by the state-run Bahrain News Agency showed that Kohavi was not wearing a military uniform. During his visit to the Gulf state, the IDF’s chief of staff will also meet with the commander of the US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, the United States Naval Forces, Brad Cooper. This meeting will take place at the headquarters of the fleet, as it is stationed in the area. The IDF stated that this visit and the recent meetings were part of the ongoing cooperation between the US Armed Forces and the IDF. 

This includes the visit of General Kenneth McKenzie, the US States Central Command’s outgoing commander, to Israel. The international cooperation commander of the military, Effie Defrin, and the head of the Military Intelligence’s Research Division, Amit Sa’ar will also join Kelman and Kohavi. During Kohavi’s absence, the military will be under the command of Herzi Halevi, the Deputy Chief of Staff. The first-ever visit to Bahrain by the IDF chief has happened two years after the Abraham Accords, the normalization agreements, had been signed between the two countries. 

Last month, Defense Minister Benny Gantz as well as the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, had also visited the Gulf state for their first official visits. The trip of the IDF’s chief of staff to Bahrain is believed to encourage the cooperation of the two countries against Iran. This is primarily because there is a lot of speculation about a new international pack regarding its nuclear program getting nixed. The unit that is under the command of Kelman i.e. the Strategy and Third-Circle Directorate of the IDF, is principally focused on Israel’s battle against Iran. Kelman had had a brief meeting last year with the Undersecretary for International Relations of Bahrain when he had visited Israel.

In recent weeks, all negotiators have signaled that there may be a potential agreement for reviving the Iran nuclear deal, which is referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Gantz had said last week that a deal could be signed in the coming weeks, or even days. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused the talks to be sidetracked. The original agreement made in 2015 had given sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for it curbing on their nuclear program, but in 2018, the US had withdrawn from it and heavy economic sanctions had been imposed by the then-US president Donald Trump.

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