Israeli officials secretly sent to Qatar to strengthen security ties with US military: report

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Israeli military officials secretly traveled to Qatar as part of a visit aimed at strengthening security cooperation with the US military.

This visit preceded the regional tour of US President Joe Biden which aims to normalize relations between the occupying regime and the Arab countries of the region.

Citing unknown sources, the Middle East Eye said in a report on Saturday that Israeli military officials had been secretly sent to Qatar as part of a “security shakeup that places Israel in the area of ​​responsibility of US Central Command”.

The sources told MEE that at least one place Israeli officials had visited was al-Udeid, a US airbase and forward headquarters for all US forces in the West Asia region, also known as under the name of CENTCOM.

“There is a dialogue, and it’s a good dialogue,” a Persian Gulf official familiar with the matter told MEE on condition of anonymity. However, the official did not mention the number of Israeli personnel currently in Qatar.

The revelation of Israeli military officials traveling to Qatar underscores how ties extend beyond traditional areas such as Palestine, especially as the United States works to strengthen security cooperation between its Arab partners and Israel.

“The Abraham Accords, along with the inclusion of Israel in US Central Command, forces all Arab capitals to reevaluate what their relationship with Israel looks like,” R Clarke Cooper, former Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs -military under the Trump and currently on the Atlantic Council, told MEE.

“Current military integration considerations to deal with shared threats like Iran are a real-time example of such a reassessment,” he added.

In March, Qatari military officials – along with those from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan – reportedly held a meeting with their American and Israeli counterparts in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh to discuss of a joint missile defense plan.

The meeting took place against the backdrop of growing tensions in the West Asian region and what were claimed to be threats from Iran.

Despite lacking formal ties, Israel and Qatar – two key US allies – maintain relations and are known to engage on issues including Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

The Persian Gulf periphery state severed trade ties with Israel in 2009, after the first of four wars between the regime’s military and the Gaza-based resistance movement Hamas.

Unlike four Arab countries – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, which normalized relations with Israel in 2020 – Qatar conditioned its normalization with the regime on the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Saudi Arabia has yet to jump on the bandwagon, but the two sides have seen growing contact and de facto rapprochement in recent years, despite claims it is committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative , which conditions the normalization of relations with Israel on the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

In November 2020, the kingdom allowed Israeli airlines to use its airspace, hours before the first Israeli flight to the United Arab Emirates took off.

Speculation is rife that Biden will aggressively push for normalization between Riyadh and Tel Aviv during his trip to the region between July 13-16.

The US president is due to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other regional leaders during the high-level visit, his first to Saudi Arabia since becoming president last year.

Palestinian leaders, activists and ordinary people have repeatedly dismissed the Arab-Israeli normalization agreements as “a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people”.

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