Whatever the intent of Iran’s nuclear program, it appears regional tensions and fears surrounding Tehran’s possible motivations could be pushing together some interesting partners.
Various outlets are reporting that Israel and nations such as Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) could be forming a defensive pact with Iran in mind. If such reports pan out, the repercussions of such a move would be felt far and wide across the Middle East and indeed globally.
According to the Sunday Times:
“The proposal, referred to by the diplomats involved as “4+1”, may eventually lead to technicians from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan working alongside Israelis in joint command-and-control centres.
The American-brokered plan is to build a “moderate crescent” of allied states that share a powerful vested interest in countering Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
‘The plan is to start with information-sharing about Iran’s ballistic missiles,’ said an Israeli official.”
Such a plan would face many hurdles. For starters, Israeli relations with Turkey have been strained for several years since the Gaza flotilla raid in 2010. While just recently a breakthrough has seen some improvement in ties, and the Times previously reported that Israel might base strategic assault aircraft in Turkey, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s proposed trip to Gaza is already threatening this rapprochement.
Furthermore, although Israel and Turkey have cooperated closely for decades, Tel Aviv has had far more issues with the three Arab states historically and still lacks formal relations with Saudi Arabia or the UAE.
Thus, it’d be truly historic if, as the Sunday Times report also said, Israel gained access to radar stations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Israel would then in exchange share information from its early warning radar and anti-ballistic missile defense systems, though “it’s not clear in what form.” It is also being reported that Jordan would be protected by Israel’s Arrow long-range anti-missile system.
Various outlets are also describing the possible plan as being pushed by the U.S.
Moving to some sort of regional containment strategy would certainly pose risks and rewards to all parties concerned, and would certainly create just as many questions as answers.
For starters, if reports are correct, has the United States and Israel truly given up on stopping Iran’s nuclear program and moved towards containing Tehran? Could negotiations with Iran still lead to a breakthrough? Could this be just a bluff to push Iran towards a deal?
Can such a coalition of unlikely partners work considering historic differences?
There is also the issue of nuclear proliferation. If Iran’s nuclear program continues on with no international agreement that could place limits on its ability to build nuclear weapons, will other nations in the region consider building their own nuclear arsenal?