|Weapons seized at sea 15 July. (Photo Credit - Gulf Daily News Online)|
Prior to this bombing, several likely related weapons seizures occurred:
- 28 December 2013 - A shipment containing 38 blocks of C4 explosives and grenades was interdicted at sea. Additional material was found in a warehouse Al Qurayyah the next day.
- 15 March 2015 - Two Bahraini men were detained by Saudi Arabia for smuggling high explosives across the Gulf causeway from Bahrain, ostensibly for employment in the KSA.
- 6 June 2015 - IED components including C4, commercial detonators, advanced circuitry, chemicals, and mobile phones were seized from a warehouse near Manama.
- 15 July 2015 - Bahrain's coast guard seized an inbound vessel that had just linked up with another vessel outside of territorial waters containing 44 kg of C4, eight Kalashnikov assault rifles, 32 Kalashnikov magazines, ammunition, and detonators. One of the two suspects detained onboard admitted to receiving firearms and IED manufacturing training in Iran in August 2013 at an Iranian Revolutionary Guards' camp.
As I discussed here in 2013 and as evidenced in some of the seizures above, Iran continues to support its armed surrogates via the sea. As sanctions against Treasury Department designated terrorist entities are lifted, the nuclear deal with Iran will inevitably increase this nefarious activity. Even the National Security Advisor has admitted as much: “We should expect that some portion of that money would go to the Iranian military and could potentially be used for the kinds of bad behavior that we’ve seen in the region up until now,” Susan Rice said during a recent CNN interview of the up to $150 billion that will flow into regime coffers.
Specifically, the Vienna agreement lifts sanctions on a number of suspect organizations including Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and South Shipping Line Iran, along with dozens of other global transportation entities, many of which are probably front companies for IRGC smuggling activities. Regardless of any details contained in the agreement, it is very unlikely that the IRGC-QF will change its bellicose behavior unless the Ayatollah's regime itself changes.
Make no mistake, many of the human rights grievances expressed by Bahrain's Shia population leading up to the "14 February Revolution" of 2011 were legitimate, and deserve attention by Bahrain's Sunni rulers. But Iran's meddling in the conflict is troublesome, and increases the likelihood of sectarian violence spilling over to the American footprint in Bahrain. Given these developments, it would be wise if the US enhanced counter-UW efforts in the region. Intelligence sharing and interagency cooperation are key to disrupting the flow of lethal aid on the sea, air, and land.
The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense, the US Navy, or any other agency.