Bahrain said on Sunday it had foiled a “terrorist attack” backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Saudi state television Al-Ekhbariya and a local Bahraini newspaper reported, both citing Bahrain’s interior ministry.
Bahrain, host to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and other international naval operations, has often accused Shi’ite Muslim Iran of seeking to subvert the kingdom, which has a Shi’ite majority and is ruled by Sunnis.
It was the only Gulf Arab state to witness a sizeable pro-democracy uprising in the 2011 “Arab Spring”, from a largely Shi’ite opposition movement, which it quashed with Saudi and Emirati help.
Interior ministry investigations showed a new terrorist group called the “Qassem Soleimani Brigade” was planning to attack several public and security structures in Bahrain, the media reports said.
The group also tracked several personal guards of “important personalities” in Bahrain as part of a plot to assassinate them, local newspaper Akhbar al-Khaleej said.
The attacks were planned to avenge the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January by a U.S. drone strike.
Bahrain’s security forces said they foiled the planned attacks after finding an explosive device in the Badei area meant to target a visiting foreign delegation.
The media reports did not say when the attack was meant to have taken place, but said a case was being prepared against 18 accused, of which nine are now in Iran.
Bahrain joined the United Arab Emirates in establishing relations with Israel on Sept. 11, a move forged partly through shared fears of Iran.
The deal has led to a surge in popular anger but analysts argue it strengthens the government, since traditional allies are more likely to turn a blind eye to any further crackdown.
To protest us from Iran
The interior minister of Bahrain claimed last week that the normalisation deal with Israel was not an abandonment of Palestinian rights, but to protect the country from ongoing threats from Iran.
“Iran has chosen to behave in a dominating way in several forms and has become a constant danger that harms our internal security,” Al Khalifa added.
“The regional situation makes us deal with ongoing threats for the past years, in which most of them were deterred. It isn’t wise to see the threat and wait for it to reach us if we can in any way avoid it.”
Iran had a historic claim to Bahrain until March 1970 when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi abandoned the claim as a result of secret Anglo-Iranian negotiations. But for several years Iran has been interfering on regular basis in t Bahrain’s internal affairs , directly or through its proxies such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah . In March 2018 the Bahraini government said that its security forces had foiled a number of terrorist plots and arrested 116 people who were allegedly members of an armed group run by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)