The latest Israeli budget under consideration in the Knesset reveals that Israel opened a new mission in an unnamed Gulf State in the past year. Though the identity of the state is supposed to be a secret (the linked Haaretz article doesn’t explicitly name it) given the delicate nature of Israeli relations with Arab countries in the region, my source informs me that it is the United Arab Emirates. It is one of several Gulf states feeling threatened by the so-called Iranian threat.
Israel is eager to reinforce the sense of isolation and encirclement against Iran and what better way to do this than to make common cause with one of the competing powers in the region. My source informs me that the purpose of the new mission is to coordinate and plan strategies for containing Iran. Though I don’t know this for a fact, the main purpose of this new government outpost would appear to be intelligence and military liaison. I don’t think Israel is making friends in UAE in order to engage in cultural exchange programs. This is strictly business–the business of taking Iran down a peg or two or three.
Recently, the NY Times reported (this is the Jerusalem Post’s story) the U.S. was preparing a $10-billion arms package to send advanced weaponry to Israel, the Saudis and UAE in order to battle that Iranian threat. The notoriously unreliable Times of Israel also reports a so-called “moderate crescent” alliance taking shape among the Saudis, Israel, UAE, Turkey and Jordan. It too would have the goal of offering mutual defense against Iran. If this report is credible (given the Times of Israel’s record, that’s by no means guaranteed), then the secret mission could be part of this project, since it would enable Israel and the UAE to coordinate their efforts much more intensively. Personally, it could be a total crock. But even if it is, it does indicate the “thinking” of some Israeli strategists who have delusional visions of creating a Middle Eastern version of NATO to deter Iran.
This news comes on the heels of yesterday’s hijacking and hacking of an advanced Israeli drone likely by Iran or forces closely associated like Hezbollah. All of this is part of the nasty covert war going on among all these various states. I’ve warned many times here before that it isn’t far from covert or overt war. All it takes is one catastrophic failure, one stupid decision. This is a tinderbox waiting to erupt in flames.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.