Israel Looking for Military Alliance with Arab States Against Iran

The United States and Israel are working to set up a groundwork for a security alliance with Arab states that would connect air defense systems to counter Iran’s drone and missile attacks in the Middle East. The idea, which is planned to use Israeli technology, could gain traction during Biden’s Middle East visits between July 13 and 16 involving Israel and Saudi Arabia.

As regional tensions rise over Tehran’s nuclear programme, Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iraq have come under UAV or missile attacks claimed by or blamed on Iran backed militias.

Discussions on the idea is still at a very early stage and some Arab states refuse to be in a pact with Israel.

On the other hand, Israel’s defense minister Gantz said last month that a U.S. sponsored air defense alliance could be operative and be boosted by Biden’s visit. He added that the systems have already foiled attempted Iranian attacks.

Although Israel has accelerated efforts for security cooperation with U.S. aligned Arab states in recent years, the U.S. officials say Gantz’s assessment on the situation is overstated.

Gulf States have not made any public statement regarding the idea.

While Biden aims to hold talks on a wider regional security cooperation, including with Israel, at a Gulf Arab summit led by Saudi Arabia next week, an announcement of a formal pact is not expected.

The plan would be to build a network of radars, detectors and interceptors between Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt, with the help of Israeli technology and U.S. military bases.

That would allow those countries, especially Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to detect aerial threats before they cross their borders.

The idea was first introduced by Israeli officials in March during a U.S. Central Command meeting attended by military officials from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Egypt in Sharm El Sheikh.

Washington hopes more cooperation would help further integrate Israel in the region and isolate Iran.

The news of a regional defense plan came at a time when indirect talks between the United States and Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal have gone into a deadlock. Washington says Iran’s uranium enrichment, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons, has made alarming progress. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

The U.S. push for an anti-Iran security pact also faces resistance from some Arab states, including Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait.

Among those, Iraq’s situation is more problematic as Iran has serious influence in the country through Shi’ite militias and politicians and would certainly block any attempts to join a security pact.

In May, Iraq’s parliament approved a law that will ban normalizing relations with Israel, at a time when several Arab countries have established formal ties.

The United States hopes Israel could normalize relations with more Arab states, particularly with Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom says normalizing ties with Israel would need the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. U.S. officials do not believe Israeli-Saudi normalization could be achieved in the short term.

In an ideal world for Israel, an alliance would lead to missile defence sales to the Gulf, including its Iron Dome and David’s Sling systems which could work with the U.S. Patriot missile batteries long used by Gulf states.

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