First joint naval exercise by Israel and Gulf states signals Iran worries

In a move almost unthinkable only three years ago, Gulf Arab navies have held their first joint military exercise with Israeli warships, co-ordinated by the US Navy. The five-day drill in the Red Sea involved warships from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Israel and the US. It began Wednesday November 10, and included boarding, search and seizure tactics “to help ensure freedom of navigation”. US Naval Forces Central Command said the training would

“enhance interoperability between participating forces’ maritime interdiction teams”.

President Trump and The First Lady Participate in an Abraham Accords Signing Ceremony (50345629858).jpg
Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump at the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords in 2020.

The exercise follows the signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020, which saw the UAE and Bahrain normalise their relations with Israel. Since then, there has been an intense exchange of diplomatic, military and intelligence contacts between Israel and those Gulf states, as all parties share their concern over Iran’s activities. The head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency has made a public visit to Bahrain and in October the commander of the UAE’s air force arrived in Israel on his first ever such visit.

There is an ancient proverb that says,

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

This proverb is true in relation to what is happening with Israel and the Gulf Arab nations. Even though underlying their relationship is hostility they both have a shared and greater enemy – Iran. Therefore these unlikely allies have come together in a show of force in the Red Sea. Iran has recently announced its own naval exercises east of the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has been not only seeking nuclear weapons and creating ever more powerful missiles – it has also been expanding its reach through proxy armies around the Middle East eg Hezbollah, Houthis, Hamas etc. The Bible said that Gulf Arab nations would be allied to Israel and that Iran would support Israel’s enemies….

Sheba, and Dedan, [Gulf Arab States] and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?  (Ezekiel 38:13)

Andy Walton

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