Middle East Air Defense Alliance

6 mins read
Middle East Air Defense Alliance

The visit of the previous US President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia was much talked about. Although the tabloid aspect of the visit included Trump’s sword dance with the Saudis or the poses of the Arab leaders and the US President with their hands on a representative globe, the critical part of the visit was the purchase of American weapons by the Saudis.

Middle East Air Defense Alliance

The same Trump who managed to reconcile Arab countries and Israel during his presidency. Saudi Arabia is the only Gulf country that has not yet made peace with Israel by not participating in the Abraham Accords.

Now the Americans are trying to make up for this “deficiency”.

Current US President Joe Biden will visit Israel and then Saudi Arabia in mid-July. It is not known what will happen in the tabloid part of this trip, but there is a great possibility that the main topic of discussion in the critical part will again be American weapon systems.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz gave the clue; the Middle East joint air defense system is being established.


In a speech to the Israeli parliament, Gantz announced that they are “on the way to forming a defense alliance” with Arab countries. He also announced the target of this alliance: Iran. The Israeli minister said that the joint defense system “has already neutralized some of Iran’s attacks” and added: “The defense alliance will be further strengthened by US President Biden’s visit to the region next month.”

Israel’s biggest expectation from Biden’s visit is that the US President will convince Saudi Arabia to join the Abraham Accords. The rest is easy; cooperation against the common enemy Iran starts with a joint air defense system, and who knows, maybe it will even lead to a “Middle East NATO”.

For the time being, the joint air defense system that Israel and the Arabs, with the US behind them, have begun to create consists of each country controlling its own capabilities from its own territory. A joint military base is not yet under consideration. However, Israel and the Arabs are working together to “coordinate” the use of air defense assets, most of which they have received from the United States, against Iranian attacks.

Of course, new elements will be added to this system. Thus, Biden will revitalize the American economy with the new weapons systems he will sell to the Arabs, just like his predecessor Trump did.


Turkey seems to be outside this defense cooperation. Although the ruling AK Party government has made reconciliation with Israel, which President Erdoğan himself once accused of “state terrorism” against the Palestinians, it is too early to talk about “joint defense”. Moreover, elections are imminent in Turkey. It is difficult to explain to the electorate and make them accept the sharp turn in relations with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Adding “defense cooperation” to this may increase the sporadic voices of objection from the AK Party base.

Nevertheless, the fact that Ankara hosted both Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman – the Khashoggi murder has been forgotten – and Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid – who will become Israeli Prime Minister next week – in the same week is a sign that things will move faster than expected.

The second problem for Ankara is the standoff with the United States over the purchase of S-400 missile systems from Russia. Even if Ankara wanted to join the US-initiated Middle East Air Defense Alliance, it would be difficult to do so because of the sanctions imposed by Washington. Add to this the fact that President Erdoğan’s repeated calls for “closer ties” to US President Biden have been treated as if they had never been heard by the Washington administration. So much so that the US administration did not even react to Turkey’s veto on Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership, despite the fact that it is critical to squeeze Russia. Ankara has not received the attention it expected from the Biden administration, and it does not look like it will.

US President Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East will be critical for the regional balances. For now, the establishment of an anti-Iranian Arab-Israeli front seems to be going well.

But this is the Middle East where all balances change in an instant;

In 2016, the Islamic Army that Turkey tried to establish together with the Saudis and other Gulf Arabs and the parade of Mehmet soldiers behind the Saudi flag within this framework are still in the memory.

The fate of the “Army of Islam”, which the AK Party government at the time clung to with all its might, is obvious.

The fate of the joint Israeli-Arab defense system, which is now Israel’s primary target, may not be any different.

published with excerpts from the article by Zeynep GÜRCANLI in “Dünya” newspaper.


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