Reuters reported on Thursday that the US and Israel are laying the groundwork to form a joint military pact with Arab countries that would create integrated air defense systems to counter Iran.
The idea of Israel and the US’s Arab allies forming an anti-Iran alliance in the Middle East has been in the works since Israel signed normalization deals with the UAE and Bahrain back in 2020. But last month, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed for the first time that Israel has been working on building a US-backed alliance in the region with a focus on integrated missile defense systems.
Gantz claimed that the new alliance has already intercepted Iranian attacks, but it’s not clear if that’s the case. According to Reuters, the US assessed that Gantz overstated how far the security cooperation has advanced.
The idea would be to set up a network of radars, detectors, and interceptors in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, and Iraq using Israeli technology and US military bases in the region. But some Arab countries are more resistant to the idea than others, including Iraq, which recently passed a law forbidding normalization with Israel.
The Reuters report said that the plan is also facing resistance from Qatar and Kuwait. President Biden is expected to push for more Arab cooperation during his visit to Saudi Arabia later this month, where he will attend a summit of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders.
If the alliance comes to fruition, Israel could export its missile defense systems, including the Iron Dome, to Arab countries. Israeli TV reported earlier that Israel plans to ask Biden to approve the delivery of a new Israeli-developed laser-powered air defense system to Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.