Saturday, November 26, 2022

US says to help integrate Israel, Arab states’ air defenses

Bipartisan US lawmakers from both houses of the Congress on Thursday introduced legislation aimed at bolstering defense cooperation between Israel and several Arab states with the Pentagon's explicit involvement, in order to "thwart threats from Iran and its proxies."

The “Deterring Enemy Forces and Enabling National Defenses Act of 2022″ – or the “DEFEND Act of 2022,” introduced by Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate Abraham Accords Caucuses, states that the Pentagon would be required to submit a strategy for an integrated air and missile defense system within 180 days.

The defenses would be aimed at protecting the relevant countries from “cruise and ballistic missiles, manned and unmanned aerial systems, and rocket attacks from Iran, and for other purposes.”

The countries named in the bill include Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, as well as the six members of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. The bill is the most prominent piece of legislation to date aimed at building upon the normalization pacts between Israel and Arab nations.

Of the nine Arab countries mentioned in the bill, two have decades-long peace treaties with Israel, while two others were among the countries to normalize ties.

Israel and Bahrain signed a historic formalization of security ties in February, while Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited the United Arab Emirates on Thursday to conduct his second meeting with President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, days after Israel signed a free trade deal with the UAE – its first such agreement with an Arab country.

Talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel, meanwhile, have intensified over recent weeks ahead of US President Joe Biden’s anticipated visit.

The United States has been discussing the establishment of a regional security architecture focusing on improving defenses against Iran, primarily between Israel, the Saudis and the UAE.

Furthermore, the IDF will soon assign a permanent liaison officer from the Israel Navy to the US Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet located in Bahrain.

Iran has stressed the open and secret support of the United States for Israel has played a key role in making the regime more insolent in its acts of aggression, calling on the Arab world to take meaningful political action against Israel.

Tehran says Israel is well aware of Iran’s capabilities and capacities and its own limited capabilities as well as the fact that the Islamic Republic does not compromise or joke about its national security.

Iranian officials have repeatedly warned that any mistake by Israel and the US will be met with Tehran’s crushing response.

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