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U.S. and Israel seek joint defense agreement from Arab allies amid tensions in Iran

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Aziz El Yaakoubi and Andrew Mills and Matt Spetalnick

Riyadh — The United States and Israel are laying the foundation for a security alliance with the Arab countries that connect air defenses. A system to combat Iran's drone and missile attacks in the Middle East, according to four sources familiar with the plan.

The idea of ​​using Israeli technology could gain momentum when President Joe Biden stopped in Israel, the Palestinian Territory, and Saudi Arabia on a trip on July 13-16. ,schedule.

As regional tensions rise over Tehran's controversial nuclear program, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and parts of Iraq have alleged or condemned UAVs by Iran. Or I was hit by a missile. Supported militia.

The debate is still in its infancy and is already facing resistance from some Arab countries refusing to trade with Israel, four sources said.

However, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said last month that the new US-sponsored air defense alliance is "functional" and could be boosted by Biden's visit. He added that the device blocked an already attempted attack on Iran.

Israeli officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity that partner countries are synchronizing their air defense systems via remote electronic communications rather than using the same physical facilities. Stated.

Israel has recently provided defense cooperation to the United States and allied Arab countries that share concerns about Iran, but in a US assessment, Ganz has such security. It seems to exaggerate how far the cooperation has progressed. Altitude.

On their side, the Gulf Arabs have been openly hesitant about this idea.

A Washington man familiar with the matter will discuss broader regional security coordination, including close ally Israel, at Saudi Arabia-led Gulf Arab Summit next week. , Said that the announcement of a formal agreement is not expected. ..

The plan was between Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt, Israeli technology and US military bases, sources said.

Iran Quarantine

This will allow these countries, especially Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to detect aerial threats before crossing the border. Will be.

Israeli officials introduced ideas for a regional defense system at a U.S. Central Army meeting attended by military officials from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt in March at Sharm El Sheikh. One of the sources said.

"This proposal is a proposal for a joint detection system that notifies other countries of attacks detected by each registered country," added one source who refused to identify.

A high-ranking Israeli official in Washington, previewing Biden's trip, described the effort to form an alliance as a "set goal."

"There is still a long way to go, but the United States supports it."

Washington further integrates Israel into the region. Hope to help isolate the great enemy Iran.

The Regional Defense Program is in line with the months of deadlock in negotiations on resuming the 2015 agreement to limit Iran's nuclear activity. Washington says Iran's uranium enrichment, a potential route to nuclear weapons, has made tremendous progress. Iran has denied seeking nuclear weapons.

Israel's concerns about the outcome of the nuclear negotiations and Israel's threat of unilateral military action against Iran emphasize the western capital.

Iran is armed with one of the region's largest missile systems, stating that joint military operations between Israel and some Arab countries in the Gulf are "out of despair." increase.

Arab resistance

However, the US movement for anti-Iran cooperation has also resisted from some Arab countries such as Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait. Facing

"Different views differ depending on the capital," said a Biden administration executive on condition of anonymity.

"We are not trying to create a top-down structure. We are trying to build on the relationships that exist. Some of them are on board and some are on board. It's underwater, "said officials.

Iraq is a classic example of the difficulty of getting some Arab countries into an alliance. Iran has great domestic influence through Shiite militias and politicians, ensuring that attempts to join security agreements are thwarted.

In May, Iraqi parliament approved a law prohibiting normalization of relations with Israel when several Arab countries established formal relations.

Iraq has not been aware of the state of Israel since its establishment in 1948, and Iraqi citizens and businesses cannot visit Israel, but new legislation is further advanced. In particular, attempts to normalize relations with Israel are criminal. ..

Iraq's senior security adviser said the alliance was out of the question as no official plan was presented to Baghdad to conclude an agreement against Iran, including Israel.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also taking careful steps to maintain their early relations with Tehran, sources said.

"Trust issue"

The UAE government said it was not a party to a regional military alliance with a particular country and was not aware of formal consultations. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan did not respond to requests for comment.

Washington paves the way for more normalized deals with Israel, where more regional security cooperation established relations with the UAE and Bahrain in 2020. I hope that.

Israel's Grand Prize states that Saudi Arabia needs to create a Palestinian sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital to normalize relations with Israel. US officials say the normalization of Israel and Saudi Arabia is far away.

Saudi-Israeli cooperation could also help restore US Saudi relations tense due to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the war in Yemen, and rising oil prices.

In an ideal world for Israel, the alliance is a defense of missiles to the Gulf, including the Iron Dome and David's Sling system that can work with the US Patriot missile batteries that have long been used in the Gulf countries. Experts say it will lead to sales.

Janes Middle East Defense Specialist Jeremy Binnie said the Gulf Radar would give Israel an additional early warning of the attack, perhaps making it the main beneficiary of the alliance. Stated.

In Israel, the Israeli Ministry of Defense said Byden will visit Palmachim Airbase to inspect defense systems such as Arrow, David's Sling, Iron Dome, and laser interceptor weapons.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Yasmine Farouk said the idea of ​​integrated missile defense dates back a few years and successive U.S. governments sought to overcome distrust among Gulf nations in information sharing. ..

She said the increasing threat from Iran and its Yemeni Houthi allies could take precedence over the "trust problem" between the Gulf Arab countries.

"But that's work in progress," she added. (Reports by Aziz El Yaakoubi in Riyadh, Andrew Mills in Doha, Matt Spetalnick in Washington, Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad, Alexander Cornwell, Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai, additional reports by Dan Williams in Jerusalem, edited by Michael Georgy, William Maclean)