Home west asia After Israel, US Hopes To Entice Gulf Nations Into Regional Missile Shield

After Israel, US Hopes To Entice Gulf Nations Into Regional Missile Shield

US officials said that the US is holding defence meetings with Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in the hope of building a regional missile shield with Gulf nations. This comes after Iran’s recent missile attack on Israel in April.

US looks to reassure Gulf nations

The US believes that Israel’s ability to counter the Iranian missile and drone attack should give confidence to its Arab allies. However, former US officials admit that it is unclear whether Gulf allies have the same confidence that the US will rush to their defense. They also admit Gulf nations have long hedged their bets. It remains to be seen if they are willing to take the steps needed to integrate their defenses.

A senior US defence official said Gulf allies have recognised the successful defence of Israel was a result of years of defence integration among Israel’s partners.

“It is not lost on (U.S. Gulf allies) that the effectiveness of defending against that very substantial, high-end barrage by Iran was not just because of the individual capabilities of the countries – Israel, United States, the UK – but the fact that there is a substantial amount of integration among those countries.”

Concerns about Iran threat

US officials add the rise in attacks by Iran’s proxies should reassure Gulf nations. Interceptions by US. and British warships against Houthi attacks have demonstrated the power of Western air defences. The officials say that this has shown Gulf nations the West’s commitment towards safeguarding commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

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Will Gulf nations cooperate?

Gulf nations, however, may not cooperate. U.S. officials acknowledge many nations in the Middle East are reluctant to directly share sensitive defence information such as radar data. This is because it could reveal security vulnerabilities.

Former Pentagon Middle East policy advisor Dana Stroul said that Gulf nations would need to make a political decision on whether to move forward with regional intelligence sharing.

“Washington should also make it clear to these partners that they can expect the same level of defensive support if Iran attacks them directly.”