Thursday, June 26, 2008

Israel, which officially does not recognize Hamas, will hold talks with the terrorist organization through Egyptian mediators. Hamas has demanded that

Hana Levi Julian

The small but wealthy Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain has asked its allies in the international community to notify it in case of any planned escalation with Iran.

Bahrain Public Security Chief Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani said in a speech Wednesday before the Royal United Services Institute in London that "the level of tension currently concerning Iran is a further significant threat." Al Zayani warned the security think tank, "Should the situation deteriorate, there will be a major impact on Bahrain, where a proportion of our Shi'ite population follows Iran's religious leadership blindly and apparently without question."

Al Zayani appealed to Bahrain's allies to consider the impact of an escalation on the entire region before moving ahead with military action against the Islamic Republic. "As partners we ask, rather in hope than in expectation, that we are consulted or at least given early warning of major escalation or other actions," he said.

Speaking later with a reporter from the Reuters news service, Al Zayani added, "The intention of the consultation is to ensure that war will not happen. The intention is to have peace. We are against war… The Iranian nuclear issue is a challenge for the whole region and war will be a challenge to all. We don't want escalation… we hope it will end in a political solution."

Iran has repeatedly threatened to annihilate the State of Israel and has adamantly refused to halt its nuclear development program, which intelligence agencies fear is aimed at creating a weapon of mass destruction. The Israeli government has stated it will not tolerate an existential threat, regardless of what other countries decide to do, although it prefers to deal with the issue diplomatically.

Bahrain is one of the few Arab nations which have not displayed public hostility towards Israel. The monarchy recently appointed a Jewish woman, Huda Nunu, to be its ambassador to the United States, the first Arab nation to do so. Nunu, a businesswoman and mother of two, who was the head of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch, was named to the post after a long process.

Currently there are fewer than 10 Jewish families in Bahrain, where Jews have lived since ancient times. Arabic records note their refusal to convert to Islam when the faith's founder, Mohammed, took over the territory.

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