This article was last updated on June 20, 2022
Israel’s Moves Against Iran – Changing the Fragile Balance of Power in the Middle East
Let’s open this posting with a map noting the locations of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Iran and Israel:
Now, let’s look at a recent news report from PressTV in Iran which received minimal coverage:
According to PressTV, an Iranian government-owned news network which is the only organization that is legally allowed to transmit television under Iranian law, Israel has deployed its Iron Dome radar system in several nations in the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, both of which are located directly across the Persian Gulf from Iran, Israel’s existential current enemy in the region.
The Iron Dome system is an all-weather, truck-towed, multi-mission mobile air defense system which was developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Iron Dome comes in two versions; the I-DOME is a mobile, land-based version and the C-DOME is a naval version. The system is designed to counter very short-range rockets and 155 millimetre artillery shells with a range of up to 70 kilometres. The system was deployed by the Israeli Air Force in March 2011 and is designed to protect a wide-range of incoming targets, particularly those launched by Hamas from Gaza. The system has three components: a detection and tracking radar, a battle management and weapon control system and a missile firing unit. The missiles launched by Iron Dome have steering fins which allow for high maneuverability and have daylight and nighttime capability. The system can also intercept missile salvos, countering multiple threats at one time. The system has been purchased by the United States Army which finalized a deal to purchase two Iron Dome systems in August 2019 with the delivery of the second battery taking place in January 2021. Azerbaijan and India have also signed agreements for the purchase of the system.
Interestingly, while the development of the Iron Dome took place in Israel, it was done using American tax dollars with Congress approving $225 million for the missile defense system in 2014.
Here is a video showing the Iron Dome in action:
According to the article on PressTV, as reported on Israel‘s Channel 12, the deployment of Israel’s Iron Dome in several nations in the Middle East, the Biden Administration is “seeking to establish a security alliance consisting of Israel and a number of Persian Gulf countries, including those that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel”:
“It is a defense-security cooperation agreement between Israel and several Arab countries against threats from Iran,” the Channel 12 news said. “Under the emerging agreement, the United States will work on cooperation between Israel and six Persian Gulf states, in addition to Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. It is a joint proposal between The Democratic and Republican parties and will be tabled on Thursday in the House of Representatives.
According to the Israeli channel, members of US Congress had already put forward a bill requiring that the US Department of Defense integrate the air defense systems of Israel and some Arab countries.“
Note the mention of a Congressional bill in the PressTV report. Here is an announcement of the Deterring Energy Forces and Enabling National Defenses (DEFEND) Act as it appears on Senator Joni Ernst’s website:
Here is a quote from the announcement with my bolds:
“The full potential of the Abraham Accords, economic cooperation, education exchanges, trade agreements between Israel and our Middle Eastern partners, cannot be achieved without a commitment to collective security,” said Senator Ernst. “America’s role in activating and networking our allies and partners in the Middle East must evolve as violent extremists, like Iran, change their tactics and onboard new systems capable of catastrophic damage against civilian targets. This bipartisan, bicameral effort directs the United States work with our allies and partners in the region to build an integrated air and missile defense system to take on the threat posed by Iran and its violent extremist proxies.”
“As U.S. forces and our partners in the Middle East face increasingly sophisticated air and missile threats from Iran and its terrorist proxies, we must act in a coordinated way to defend against shared threats,” said Senator Rosen.“Our bipartisan, bicameral legislation will support the Department of Defense’s efforts to integrate the defense capabilities of our Middle Eastern allies and partners, including Israel, and leverage their unique capabilities to develop an integrated air and missile defense architecture.”
“We cannot hope for peace, we must work to create peace. That is why the Abraham Accords are so essential to the future of the region,” said Senator Lankford. “My colleagues and I also want the U.S. Department of Defense to prepare a strategic plan to strengthen integrated air and missile defense capabilities to protect people and infrastructure from the ongoing threats from Iran. We can and must be smart about the realities existing in the region from Iran, but we must also continue to integrate people and commerce in the region toward a goal of lasting peace.”
“As missile threats against our partners in the Middle East increase, this bipartisan legislation is critical to ensuring the safety and security of the region,” said Senator Booker. “Under the leadership and coordination of the Department of Defense, this bill will help develop an integrated air and missile defense system that protects civilians and infrastructure from rocket attacks and strengthens the defense capabilities of our Middle Eastern allies. By strengthening and encouraging cooperation between signatories of the Abraham Accords and other regional partners, this bill will also help foster a more peaceful and stable region.”
Yes, there’s nothing like messing in the Middle East to “create peace”, is there?
Under the DEFEND Act, the U.S. Department of Defense would be required to “….prepare a strategy to work in conjunction with Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other allies and partners in the Middle East to establish a defense architecture and acquisitions approach that would employ a combination of air and missile defense capabilities to protect the region from attacks by Iran and Iran-backed extremist groups.“
As an aside and somewhat off topic, according to recent reports, Israel turned down Ukraine’s request to purchase the Iron Dome system to protect itself from Russian missiles, artillery and rockets in February 2022 as quoted here and here, largely because Israel is concerned about the negative impact of such a sale on its relationship with Russia.
While it seems surprising on the surface that Israel would find itself cooperating militarily with its enemies of past decades, there are two issues at play:
1.) Shia Iran is surrounded by a host of Sunni nations:
The Sunni-Shia divide has, for centuries, pitted Muslims against each other.
2.) There is a saying:
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Israel knows how to play the game when it comes to Middle East politics and how to pit one nation against another to ensure its own safety in a region that has been historically hostile to Israel’s existence.
The recent moves by Israel and Washington have been observed by Iran’s leadership and they understand that the continued existence of their Islamic state is under threat. With Israel equipping nations in the Persian Gulf region with its own brand of materiel, the odds of another military operation just increased as Iran’s leadership feels increasingly vulnerable.
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