The existence of this secret diplomatic office was hidden and only recently discovered.
While the signing of the Abraham Accords signified the first official diplomatic relations between Israel and Bahrain, Israel had, in fact, operated a secret embassy in the Bahraini capital of Manama for more than a decade, according to an Axios report.
For 11 years, Israel worked to conduct diplomacy with Bahrain in secret, using a front company. However, the existence of this secret diplomatic office was revealed only recently following a brief report by the media KAN last week.
According to this survey of more than a decade of clandestine diplomatic relations between Israel and Bahrain, the idea of a secret diplomatic mission was raised in 2007-2008 during a series of meetings with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmad Al Khalifa and his former Israeli Homologue, Tzipi Livni. The decision to open the mission in Manama was preceded by the closure of an Israeli mission in Qatar, according to Israeli security officials.
According to the report, the mission was registered on July 13, 2009, under the name of the shell company known as the International Development Centre, although it has since changed its name and its current name remains confidential.
Bahrain’s archives registered the company as a company providing marketing, promotion and investment services, and its website explained that it was a consultant for Western companies interested in non-oil investments in the region.
In addition, the website boasted a strong network of Bahraini and regional contacts.
Like all companies, this Centre for International Development had employees. However, the employment criteria were extremely targeted: only Israeli diplomats with dual nationality. As for its shareholders and board members. One of its shareholders, Brett Jonathan Miller, is South African, but he was later appointed Israeli Consul General in Mumbai.
Another shareholder was Belgian citizen Ido Moed, who currently holds the position of cyber coordinator at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Even his CEO was a diplomatic officer, although his identity remains confidential, except for the fact that he was an American citizen. He was not appointed until 2018 and was recently replaced.
To maintain this masquerade, all diplomats involved had coverage profiles on the popular social media platform LinkedIn.
And although the mission is small and clandestine, officials told Axios that it is incredibly profitable, with hundreds of trade agreements signed by Israeli companies in Bahrain.
Most important, however, is what the existence of this mission means for the future of Israeli-Bahraini relations. Immediately after the official establishment of relations on Sunday, Israel sent a formal request to open an embassy in Manama. This request was made incredibly simple by the existence of the mission, as all the groundwork and infrastructure is literally already in place.
“All we have to do is change the sign on the door,” an Israeli official told Axios.