Israel has secretly worked with Emirates against Iran for decades, report alleges

Mohammed bin Rashid EmiratesA lengthy exposé by a leading American newsmagazine has claimed that Israel and the United Arab Emirates, two countries that officially have no relations, have been secretly collaborating for more than two decades. Their secret cooperation has been extremely tight and has included clandestine weapons sales and intelligence-sharing, according to the exposé, which was published on the website of The New Yorker on Monday and will feature in the magazine’s print edition on June 18. The lengthy piece, which deals with the changing geopolitics of the Middle East, is written by Adam Entous, national security correspondent for The Washington Post, who has previously reported for more than two decades for Reuters and The Wall Street Journal.

Officially, Israel and the UAE have never had bilateral relations. The Emirates, an Arab federal state ruled through an absolute monarchical system, does not recognize Israel as a country. Consequently, the two Middle Eastern states have no official diplomatic, economic or military relations. But in his lengthy article published on Monday, Entous claims that Israeli and Emirati officials have been meeting in secret for at least 24 years. He alleges that the first clandestine meeting between the two sides happened in 1994 in Washington, after Abu Dhabi sought to purchase a number of American-made F-16 fighter jets. The US warned the UAE that Israel would veto the deal, fearing that these fighter jets in the hands of Arabs may eventually be used against it. But Israel did not pose a veto. Motivated by the Oslo I Accord, which it had signed the previous year, the Israeli government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin secretly reached out to the Emiratis and offered “to discuss the matter directly” with them.

The first series of meetings between the two sides took place “off the record […] in a nondescript office in Washington”, says Entous. Israeli and Emirati officials were diametrically at odds over the Palestinian issue, but were in almost complete agreement on the topic of Iran. Abu Dhabi saw Iran as a major threat to the stability of the Middle East, and so did Israel. Following the secret meetings, Israel lifted its objections to Washington’s sale of F-16s to the Emiratis. That, says Entous, helped “build a sense of trust” between the two Middle Eastern countries. By the end of the 1990s, there were allegedly regular secret meetings between Israeli and Emirati officials, which included the sharing of military, security and intelligence data.

Entous says that the secret relationship between Israel and the UAE has deepened in recent years, in response to the signing of the US-led Iran nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. In his exposé, Entous cites an anonymous Israeli official who says that the two countries’ strong opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran has led to “an increase in Israeli-Gulf Arab contacts” of all kinds. Entous quotes an unnamed former US Department of State official who claims that, during the second term of the administration of US President Barack Obama, American intelligence agencies found evidence of at least one secret meeting between Israelis and Emiratis. It was allegedly held in Cyprus and included the participation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says the former US official. The meeting was reportedly followed by phone calls and other exchanges between the two sides, all with the aim of sabotaging the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Entous notes in his report that Israeli and Emirati officials deny that the alleged meetings ever happened, or that they cooperate behind the scenes. The US government has not yet reacted to The New Yorker’s story.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 12 June 2018 | Permalink

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