Israel is considering partnering with several Sunni-Muslim Arab states in a U.S.-brokered defense alliance that would be aimed at containing a nuclear Iran, the Sunday Times reported, citing an unnamed Israeli official.
The alliance would see Israel teaming up with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to forge a Middle East "moderate crescent" to "contain" Iran, rather than confront it, according to Russian website RT, which quoted the Times.
According to the report, such an alliance would give Israel access to radar stations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE in exchange for its own early warning radar information and anti-ballistic missile defense systems, the source told the Sunday Times. The report suggested that Jordan would be protected by Israel’s Arrow long-range anti-missile batteries.
“The plan is to start with information-sharing about Iran’s ballistic missiles,” said an Israeli official.
The proposal is reportedly known by participating diplomats as ‘4+1’, and is being brokered by the United States.
Turkey has dismissed the report. “These are manipulative reports which have nothing to do with the reality,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry official told Hürriyet Daily News.
Israel and the U.S. have stated clearly in the past that they oppose a policy of containment vis-à-vis Iran. However, retired Mossad head Meir Dagan and other former Israeli security officials have come out strongly against the idea of a military strike on Iran. The report could therefore be a sign that forces within Israel are trying to encourage containment, or it could be a bluff.
Strategy analyst Mark Langfan believes the initiative is real. "MEATO has been born," he said. "The Middle East Alliance Treaty Organization has been created out of the ashes of Hosni Mubarak's fall."