On Tuesday, the Trump administration designated Saraya al-Mukhtar, a Shia Bahraini group, as a terror organization, claiming the group is supported by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The US blacklisted the group as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization. “Saraya al-Mukhtar is an Iran-backed terrorist organization based in Bahrain, reportedly receiving financial and logistic support from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on the designation.
Pompeo also claimed that Saraya al-Mukhtar plotted attacks against US forces in Bahrain and offered cash rewards for killing Bahraini officials. Bahrain hosts a number of US military personnel and is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
Bahrain’s foreign ministry celebrated the designations, calling it an important step “in combating malign acts and intentions of this terrorist group.” The designation freezes any assets Saraya al-Mukhtar may have in the US and bars US citizens from doing business with the Shia group.
The designation comes after Bahrain agreed to normalize relations with Israel. The US has been rewarding countries for normalizing with Israel. Designating a dissident Shia group as a terror organization could be part of Bahrain’s reward, although it does not compare to other rewards, like the UAE’s $23 billion arms sale.
Pompeo has made it clear that one of the main goals of the normalization agreements between Israel and Arab countries is to isolate Iran. The terror designation is a part of a slew of Iran-related sanctions the Trump administration is enacting in its final days.