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Hussein Ibish

Iran’s New Ploy to Disrupt the Mideast: Laying Claim to Bahrain

As with Russia and Ukraine or China and Taiwan, Tehran’s insistence that the island nation is a lost province is a red flag for US interests.

The Abraham Accords took off. 

The Abraham Accords took off. 

Photographer: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

While the world’s attention toward Iran has focused on the failing nuclear talks, Tehran has been ramping up a renewed territorial claim that threatens serious long-term instability in the Persian Gulf. In recent weeks, the tightly controlled Iranian media have been reviving long-dormant claims that Bahrain, a key US ally, is the “14th province” of Iran, known as Mishmahig.

Irredentist grievances along these lines drive countless conflicts, but it’s particularly alarming that Tehran is suddenly reviving this one, which comes on top of a renewed dispute with the United Arab Emirates over three small Gulf Islands currently held by Iran. Bahrain is vital to American interests: It hosts the US Fifth Fleet and the 34-nation Combined Maritime Forces coalition, which pursues missions in antipiracy, maritime security and counterterrorism.