Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Gulf States in Talks to Buy Iron Dome from Israel

GCC is set to purchase system via the US so as to defend against growing Iranian threat, in signs of a begrudging defense alliance.

When the going gets tough, they forget about the BDS.
(INN) Gulf States are currently in advanced talks with Israel to buy the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system to defend against Iran, Bahrain's foreign minister revealed on Tuesday.

The minister, Khalid bin Mohammed al Khalif, told the British Sky News during a visit to London that his country together with other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are seeking the system to defend against "a growing arsenal of Iranian missiles."

The GCC includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait, and if all of the oil-rich nations were to take part, the deal could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

If approved the sale would take place through the "middle men" of Raytheon and other American contractors, who worked together with the Israeli defense company Rafael to develop Iron Dome. It likely would also include systems against intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), such as Arrow I and Arrow II, as well as David's Sling to shoot down long-range missiles.

"The Israelis have their small Iron Dome. We'll have a much bigger one in the GCC," said al Khalif, indicating a much larger defense system will be needed for the larger land mass.

While relations between the Jewish state and the Gulf states have been tense, in recent years the common threat of an Iranian regime possibly armed with nuclear weapons thanks to the nuclear deal seems to be uniting their defense interests. Saudi Arabia has already warned it may obtain nuclear weapons following the deal, indicating a possible regional nuclear arms race.

"Iran has been trying to undermine and topple governments in our region for years," said al Khalif, adding that Iran will only increase the effectiveness of its missiles thanks to the deal, which provides around $150 billion in sanctions relief.

Iran has likewise been testing long-range missiles in violation of sanctions, although the US has said the violations will not affect the nuclear deal.

"They will put a lot of money into this program to develop techniques and tactics to defeat our missile defenses...the strategy appears to be one of saturation to stockpile enough missiles to overwhelm any defense system we build in the Gulf," said the Bahrain foreign minister.

As part of the GCC standoff against Shi'ite Iran, the Gulf states are currently involved in the fighting against Iran-backed Houthi rebels who are trying to conquer Yemen. As the tensions spiral into the open use of force, the deal with Israel via the US seems to show a growing defense alliance with Israel.

However, indicating the lingering tensions, a senior Gulf diplomat said, "if Netanyahu were not making less of a mess of things and was more like (ex-Egyptian president) Anwar Sadat (who signed a peace deal after failing to destroy Israel in war - ed.) then we would be happy to buy the missiles straight from Israel."