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UAE Air Force Chief lands in Israel in first public visit

CM 25/10/2021

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A year after the signing of the Abraham Accords that normalized ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the commander of the Kingdom’s Air Force, Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Nasser Mohammed al-Alawi, will land in Israel for the first time.
Al-Alawi will be in Israel as the guest of Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin during the large-scale international Blue Flag aerial exercise to take part in a conference for countries flying the F-35.
Israel is the second country after the United States to have received the joint strike fighter and is the only air force in the Middle East to fly the state-of-the-art aircraft.
Abu Dhabi has made no secret that it is interested in purchasing the fifth-generation fighter jet that the IAF has flown during numerous missions in the region, including as part of Israel’s war-between-wars campaign to thwart the entrenchment of Iranian forces along Israel’s northern border.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria, and according to foreign reports, in countries like Iraq and even further as part of its campaign against Iran.

 Blue Flag Air Force drill (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Blue Flag Air Force drill (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Over the past year, while Israeli strikes have intensified in Syria, the response time by Syrian air defense batteries has become quicker, leading the IAF to change how it acts during such operations.
Iran is a top priority for Israel’s military, and Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi has set aside an additional defense budget for war readiness and military exercises. The IAF has also resumed intensive training for scenarios in which Iran’s nuclear facilities are targeted.
In an attempt to challenge Israeli jets, Iran has changed the deployment of its advanced anti-aircraft missile batteries, deploying their radars in a separate location from the missile launchers. Such a move forces more Israeli jets to take part in any possible operation against the country’s nuclear program.
Israel’s Air Force understands that the Islamic Republic’s defense industry is robust. While it might not have an air force, its drone capabilities are worrisome and pose a major threat to Israel and other regional countries, as seen by the 2019 Aramco attack and the recent deadly Mercer Street attack.
Both Israel and the UAE have worked together covertly for years against Iran’s hegemony, and according to foreign reports have behind closed doors improved their intelligence-sharing and military relations in order to be prepared for Iranian threats.
Alawi’s public visit further cements the ties that are flourishing between the two countries, including in the field of defense. It also sends a message to Iran.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz has spoken with his counterpart in the UAE, Mohammed bin Ahmad Al Bawardi, with the two discussing security cooperation in order to strengthen the stability of the region.
In March, Gantz told Reuters that Israel intends to develop a “special security arrangement” with Gulf states who share common concerns about Iran and its regional aggression.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a defense pact but we are going to develop defense relations with every country that we have relations with,” Gantz said. “We have this process of setting up [a] special security arrangement, and within this arrangement, we can continue and develop our relations,” he said.
In January, Israel was moved from EUCOM (European Command that currently focuses on Russia and its threats against Europe and NATO) to CENTCOM’s area of responsibility.
The move to CENTCOM is believed to not only simplify the cooperation with American troops in the region but can also create the potential for a regional coalition with Arab countries that have normalized ties with Israel against shared threats posed by Iran.
Both Kohavi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz believe that moderate Sunni states such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and others that have not yet signed agreements with Israel can deepen their ties, especially in terms of regional security arrangements.
Israel has flown alongside UAE pilots in other international exercises, such as Iniohos 2019, Greece’s largest military exercise. Following the signing of the Abraham Accords last year and the visit by Alawi, it is believed that other regional countries will take part in future IAF exercises.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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