Before Leaving, Trump Solidified Arab-Israeli Efforts Against Iran – Added Israel to US Mideast Command

Until last week, Israel was lumped in with countries under the responsibility of the U.S. European Command. This was due to tensions between Israel and America’s Arab allies in the Mideast region.  However, as noted previously, the ground-breaking Trump-led peace deals, or normalization agreements, between Israel and various Arab states, have made those issues moot.

In one of his parting acts as Commander in Chief, and in a bid to solidify Arab-Israeli efforts against Iran before Joe Biden took office, President Trump ordered the Central Command (CENTCOM) to add Israel to the list of 20 countries under its purview.

U.S. CENTCOM is currently led by Marine Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. Last Friday, the Pentagon said in an official statement:

The easing of tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors subsequent to the Abraham Accords has provided a strategic opportunity for the United States to align key partners against shared threats in the Middle East. Israel is a leading strategic partner for the United States, and this will open up additional opportunities for cooperation with our U.S. Central Command partners while maintaining strong cooperation between Israel and our European allies.

Israel has now become the 21st nation under CENTCOM. This will greatly help Israel’s increasing cooperation with the Sunni-led Gulf States coalition against Shia-led Iran. It will also facilitate greater U.S.-Israeli military and intelligence coordination in the region.

Does adding Israel to CENTCOM mean Israeli military forces will be sent to support American troops in the Middle East? Perhaps.

But, in many ways they already have been, said Retired Army Maj. Gen. Mike Jones, a former CENTCOM commander. Military Times quoted him as saying:

They are already doing strikes in the AOR — Syria the other day. They’ve previously gone into Iran, Lebanon, etc. Obviously, there is a high degree of cooperation between the U.S. and Israel on defense issues.

Increasingly, Israel has been launching attacks against Iranian targets both outside and inside Iran, with assistance and coordination from U.S. intelligence. Some have attributed the December brazen daylight ambush attack outside Tehran against Iran’s top commander in charge of its covert nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, to Israel, backed by U.S. intelligence.

These efforts against Iran’s terror regime should be expected to expand in the future, now possibly with the quiet support of America’s Arab allies as well. But, sadly, only if President Biden sees the wisdom in doing so.

Paul Crespo

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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