Amid the recent global instability, Israel is reshaping its relationship with Gulf neighbors; two years ago cold-distant enemies and today friends which Israel even considers selling advanced defense equipment to Muslim-led governments. This is according to a report written by Arie Egozi and published in the Breaking Defense website in WASHINGTON DC.
Amid the recent global instability, Israel is reshaping its relationship with Gulf neighbors; two years ago cold-distant enemies and today friends which Israel even considers selling advanced defense equipment to Muslim-led governments.
The global instability turns science fiction into reality. “The Gulf region’s reality has shifted tremendously, and that is an understatement,” said a senior Israeli security analyst who asked anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter. “What appeared to be science fiction only a few months ago is now on the table.”
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Kohavi reportedly also met with a senior Qatari defense official while in Bahrain. According to Saudi-owned media, the two discussed Iran-made drone concerns and counter-drone equipment. Sources added that Kohavi even proposed the deployment of Israeli-made radars to attack Iranian drones. The Israeli Ministry of Defense did not respond to a request for comment on this news.
Not only did the 2020 Abraham Accords make rapid changes in the relationships between Israel and the Gulf countries, to which Qatar and Saudi Arabia are not parties. But also three global seismic shifts happened over the last months: the US’s partial withdrawal from the Middle East following the Afghanistan war, the potential finalization of a new Iranian nuclear deal, and, most recently, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“These countries led or dominated by Sunnis understand that partnering with Israel is their insurance policy” against Shia-ruled Iran, the senior analyst explained, adding that they believe the Iran nuclear deal will result in Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. As Ukraine prepares to fight Russia militarily on its own, and amid growing misgivings about US engagement abroad, the Gulf states are rapidly preparing to confront an Iranian threat, Israeli sources claimed.
According to Uzi Rabi, an Israeli expert on the Middle East and the Gulf, Qatar’s reported meeting with Israel demonstrates the country’s position that it may require a de facto one despite the absence of an official connection with Israel.
“While they are not a party to any formal security pact, they recognize the importance of fully coordinating with these new arrangements,” Rabi told Breaking Defense.
“The Middle East’s interest in Israeli defense equipment is so strong,” said an insider, “that it may extend to the latest version of Israel’s Merkava tank, which the IDF is scheduled to receive in 2023. According to sources, the tank is equipped with a high-tech situational awareness system called “Iron Vision” and integration with air and ground defenses. However, it is unknown how far conversations about the tanks have progressed.
“I believe the UAE and Bahrain should approach Israel about purchasing advanced weapon systems – not necessarily tanks,” Giora Eiland, a retired IDF major general and former head of Israel’s National Security Council, told Breaking Defense. “They should invest in Israeli ground-to-ground missiles and the best anti-tank missiles in the world.”
The fresh talks come as Israel continues to tread a fine line in its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, mainly condemning Russia and attempting to retain cordial relations with Moscow to maintain relative freedom of action in Russian-controlled airspace in Syria.