Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Minister of the Interior of Bahrain, met with Trump officials to discuss the dispute with Qatar and Iranian meddling throughout the region. Part of an official visit to the United States, the series of meetings included a conference at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary James Mattis, where they discussed defense cooperation and arms sales to Bahrain.
Wholeheartedly greeting the historical and strategic ties between the two countries, the U.S. Secretary of Defense was enthusiastic about the visit. He expressed appreciation for the role that Bahrain plays in the region, and condemned the Iranian influence in Bahrain and Iran’s attempts to disturb security in the Kingdom. Mattis also gave his sincere condolences to the families of the policemen who have died in the line of duty.
The military attaché of the Bahrain Embassy also attended the meetings in Washington. Last spring, the Trump administration told Congress to pursue a $5 billion sale of 19 F-16s to Bahrain. This action lifted a freeze on the deal initiated by former President Obama, last September. The State Department originally notified Congress of the sale, but President Barack Obama’s administration pulled back due to several concerns.
The Bahraini minister also met with acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Andrew McCabe and other intelligence officials. The steps that the Interior Ministry has taken to modernize its security procedures and reinforce security cooperation, as well as exchange expertise across the countries’ counter-terrorism departments were outlined by Rashid.
He also met with members of Congress, including the House Speaker and Congressman Paul Ryan. The group committed their support of Bahrain, and its steps to confront the Iranian threat.
Rashid and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly also discussed the need to boost information exchanges between the two countries during this visit to the U.S. “Secretary Kelly and Sheikh Rashed spoke about the need to increase information sharing between the Department and Ministry of Interior and Secretary Kelly offered his support to work with Bahrain in the fight against terrorism,” said the DHS in a statement.
President Trump has labeled Iran as an exporter of terrorism and fundamentalism, and has additionally been outspoken about supporting the region’s stand against Iran.