The sands of time move slowly in the Middle East, in lands with long and ancient histories coupled with long and ancient conflicts. But the past few weeks have seen events unfold rapidly in ways that are remaking the historical landscape, and ushering in the dawn of a new, more peaceful and stable era between Israel and the Arab states. This week, President Trump announced another one in the succession of historic announcements of Arab states recognizing the state of Israel, for the first time in over 72 years after its founding as a modern state.
President Trump announced the Bahrain – Israel peace deal, ushering in the normalization of relations between these two nations. It is an historic agreement that is making the Middle East region more safe and more stable, as it follows the announcement of a similar partnership between Israel and the UAE. This is a major diplomatic accomplishment for the United States and shows the unique influence that the U.S. can and still does exert around the world. A string of momentum has begun within the GCC nation-states and Israel moving toward normalization of relations. The driving force bringing these countries together is the common denominator of the shared threat posed by the Iranian regime. Iran represents a threat that is both external in force projection -with missiles, etc.- and internal, with Shi’ite groups in these GCC nations remaining loyal to Iran.
Israel is unique in the Middle East, with its superiority of deployed, proven, layered, fixed-site missile defense systems against Iran and its proxy groups, as well as with combating Shi’ite proxy groups backed by Iran in the region.
Shared intelligence and shared capabilities to defend against Iran are in the best national security interests of Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, and the U.S. There are a lot of exemplary benefits: from intelligence sharing, to F-35s, and missile defense systems. Such intelligence is to be shared between Israel and the GCC, to create a more coherent deterrence posture against Iran. The F-35 is one such system that should be shared, as the F-16s have set the precedent for fighter aircraft amongst these three nations, which have all operated the system in their respective Air Forces. American forces are forward deployed in all three countries and regularly hold joint exercises with their host countries. This provides additional capability in the region, as a means of extended deterrence to best defend these nations from outside threats such as Iran.
Almost every day, nations in the Middle East, from Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Syria, to members of the GCC, have experienced the increased use of missiles and rockets from Iranian proxies, and the constant unveiling of new weapons systems by Iran — considered hostile to national security interests, and economic trade of the partners and allies in the Middle East. Two months ago, Iran launched missile strikes targeting a mock aircraft carrier in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, an exercise that included simulated firing of a barrage of missiles towards US bases in the Middle East. This exercise was done to intimidate the GCC States by demonstrating, through the exercise, the ability to attack the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet patrolling the Arabian Sea (whose headquarters is located in Bahrain). Lessons learned from the Iranian 360 degree drone and missile attack on the Saudi Arabian oil fields (which is a little over 100 kilometers southwest of Bahrain) should be applied to create a future system with comprehensive, persistent, 360-degree protection against layered air and missile threats.
Fully-integrated Joint Allied Missile Defense capability, with shared sensors, shared command and control, and shared interceptors to negate ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and rockets, with the GCC, Israel, and the United States, would bring benefits to all of these states, as a solution whose sum would be greater than the parts. The critical C2 backbone to enable this solution is being developed by the United States in the Joint All Domain Command & Control (JADC2), with the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) and Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS). The United States Air Force and Army demonstrated earlier this month, in the ABMS On Ramp 2, the ability to shoot down cruise missiles from the air and ground, efficiently and effectively. Through ABMS, the Air Force’s F-16 and MQ-9 Reaper shot down two cruise missile targets (BQM-167s), using an MQ-9 Reaper equipped with AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles, and an F-16 armed with the new AGR-20A. In this same ABMS On Ramp 2 demonstration, the U.S. Army shot down a third cruise missile target (BQM-167) with a Hypervelocity Projectile launched from a 155mm Paladin self-propelled howitzer.
All or some of their carrying platforms and munitions are individually already in use with many of our regional allies and partners, including Egypt, Iraq, Bahrain, Oman, the UAE, Jordan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.
The time is ripe to seize the momentum generated by the historic announcements -and diplomacy led by the United States- between the UAE, Bahrain, and Israel. The leaders of the UAE and Bahrain deserve great praise for their willingness to take risks for peace and take the unprecedented steps allowing Arab Gulf states to break with decades of past practice, to recognize the state of Israel. We face a common threat and a common challenge posed by Iran, and its growing sophisticated missile force. Time to step it up and take it to the next level with an integrated missile defense approach.
Throughout history, we have seen the greatest leaders lead with resolve and grace — for common interests, for noble causes, and for the future of their people! What we are witnessing in the Middle East now is the recognition that there are brighter paths to enduring peace and stability — and they must absolutely be protected and defended. So, with special trust and confidence, and with the absolute desire to maintain peace through strength, like-minded nations will hence continue to come together in peace, to solve problems, to seize opportunities, and to drive forward the essential, benevolent economy-security nexus — for the greater good of generations to come.
MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.
MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.