Joint military drill between Israel, Gulf 'aimed at Iran'
"We are experiencing new regional cooperations. A group of countries that are speaking together has been formed. We want to build a space that is capable of handling radical Islam – primarily, Iran," Lieutenant Colonel Shahar Shoshanna of the Israeli army’s Foreign Relations Unit told the newspaper Israel HaYom.
On 10 November, naval forces from the UAE, Bahrain, Israel and the United States began five days of joint naval exercises in the Red Sea.
They were the first publicly acknowledged joint naval operations between the four countries ever since the UAE and Bahrain normalised ties with Israel in 2020, under US sponsorship.
Shoshanna told Israel HaYom that the military exercises followed Israel’s transfer from the US military’s European Command (EUCOM) to its Central Command (CENTCOM), which handles combat operations in the Middle East.
"Putting Israel under CENTCOM is very dramatic, because that is the command that is responsible for dealing with the Iranian threat … CENTCOM has identified Iran as a main threat,” he said.
“This is its worst-case scenario, and it is preparing itself to take action against Iran just like we are preparing ourselves in light of our own worst-case scenarios."
Shoshanna added that Israel’s normalisation agreements with Bahrain and the UAE, which were widely condemned in the Arab world, allowed greater military cooperation and operations which were previously secret to take place in the open.
“Because of the normalization agreements, we are building more advanced capabilities. Things that happened in secrecy until less than a year ago are now public," he said.
"An opportunity has been created to build a regional net and military capability to confront Iran."