The United States solidified its ties with Bahrain by signing a comprehensive security and economic agreement on Wednesday. This agreement marks a show of unwavering support for Bahrain, a Gulf monarchy that once faced a decade-old arms embargo.
Bahrain, a nation with complex relations with its neighbor Iran, has long hosted the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. However, this freshly inked accord not only symbolically strengthens their partnership but also enhances cooperation, notably in intelligence sharing.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking before the signing ceremony alongside Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, stated, “The core of this agreement revolves around a shared objective – our collaboration in building a more secure, prosperous, and globally connected region.”
Named the Comprehensive Security Integration and Prosperity Agreement, this pact goes beyond defense ties. It also promotes scientific collaboration, investment opportunities, and the development of renewable energy sources. In a novel approach, the agreement commits both nations to cooperate on “trusted technologies,” an implicit reference to avoiding providers, often from China, viewed by the United States as potentially insecure.
Prince Khalifa expressed his perspective, saying, “This agreement does not merely emphasize security and defense, although they are vital. It also focuses on the economy, the welfare of our people, and the technological foundations for a new global order.”
Bahrain faced international criticism in 2011 when it, with the support of its Sunni ally Saudi Arabia, quelled an uprising led by the Shiite community, demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister. This led to a four-year arms embargo imposed by then-President Barack Obama. Bahrain’s relations with the U.S. improved under former President Donald Trump, who praised Bahrain’s recognition of Israel.
Secretary Blinken affirmed the United States’ commitment to addressing human rights concerns, stating that the U.S. would engage with Bahrain on safeguarding fundamental freedoms, thereby contributing to Bahrain’s progress.
Notably, on Tuesday, government officials and activists reported the end of a 36-day prison hunger strike that involved at least 800 inmates. This decision followed an offer to enhance prison conditions, signaling progress in addressing human rights issues within Bahrain.
This new security and prosperity agreement cements the United States’ commitment to its regional ally, Bahrain, with a focus on creating a more secure, prosperous, and interconnected future for the region.