Saudi Arabia and Israel Discuss Enhancing Military Ties

Authored by Dave DeCamp via

Israel’s new government under Benjamin Netanyahu has stepped up US-backed talks with Saudi Arabia on forging stronger military and intelligence ties, Bloomberg reported late last week. The talks are part of an effort to forge a NATO-style anti-Iran alliance in the region between Israel and Washington’s Gulf Arab allies. While Saudi Arabia has not normalised with Israel, the two countries have quietly increased cooperation, including participating in their first public joint military exercises in 2022.

The Bloomberg report said that Israeli and Saudi officials held talks ahead of a meeting of the US-Gulf Cooperation Council Working Group that took place on February 16. More talks were expected to happen at the Munich Security Conference, which was held over the weekend.

Israel has increased cooperation with the US’s Gulf allies since normalising with the UAE and Bahrain in 2020 under the Abraham Accords. Since then, the US has brought Israel under the umbrella of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), the US command responsible for the Middle East.

Including Israel in CENTCOM operations facilitate more Israeli-Arab cooperation. Israel previously fell under US European Command since it didn’t have relations with most US allies in the region. The US and Israel want a future anti-Iran alliance in the Middle East to focus on integrated air defence systems.

Saudi officials have insisted that a normalisation deal with Israel would hinge on the creation of a Palestinian state, which is highly unlikely as the Netanyahu government is vowing to expand settlements in the West Bank. But it’s possible Riyadh could eventually be convinced by the US to open up with Israel if Washington offers more military assistance and arms sales.


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