Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, center right, with Israeli and Bahraini Defense Ministers Benny Gantz and Abdulla bin Hasan Al Nuaimi, Feb. 3, 2022. (US Navy) (US Navy)

The senior naval officer will serve as a liaison between Israel and the US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet.

By Pesach Benson

A senior Israeli Navy officer will be permanently stationed in Bahrain, according to Bahraini media reports. This would be the first tie an IDF officer is being permanently stationed in an Arab country.

The officer will serve as a liaison between Israel and the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain.

According to Bahraini media, the arrangement was agreed upon last week when Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Bahraini Defense Minister Abdulla bin Hasan Al Nuaimi and US 5th fleet Commander Vice Admiral Brad Cooper during an unannounced visit to Manama.

Gantz also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa establishing a framework for Israeli-Bahraini security cooperation.

In January, days before he left the White House, president Donald Trump transferred Israel from the US European Command (EUCOM) area of responsibility to the Central Command (CENTCOM). The move was intended to streamline US-Israeli military cooperation, and catalyze Israeli and Arab collaboration against Iran.

Israel’s biggest threats — Iran, Hezbollah activities in Syria and Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen — are in CENTCOM’s area of responsibility.

That has led to a number of naval drills and air force exercises involving the U.S., Israel, its Abraham accords partners, and other countries over the last several months.

Bahrain media reported that the officer is due to arrive in the coming weeks.