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January 15, 2021 1:24 pm

US to Move Israel Under Central Command, Alongside Arab States Facing Iran

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

US CENTCOM commander Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. walking with IDF Chief of Staff LTG Aviv Kohavi. Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

The Trump administration will move Israel to the U.S. Central Command, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, allowing for greater cooperation with other Arab countries against Iran.

Previously, US military responsibility for Israel fell under the European command, avoiding interactions between the country and its Arab foes. But as relations have warmed with states like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, pro-Israel groups have advocated the restructuring.

“On the ground, it reinforces the Abraham Accords’ message of growing Middle East unity against Iran’s nuclear and regional threats,” said Jonathan Ruhe, director of foreign policy at the The Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), to The Algemeiner Friday.

JINSA began lobbying for the move nearly three years ago, Ruhe said, but gained traction during the past several months in both the US and Israel. “It also paves the way for much more effective, region-wide defense cooperation against Tehran’s proliferation of increasingly precise missiles and drones, as well as upgrading America’s prepositioned weapons stockpile in Israel with much-needed precision guided munitions,” he added.

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The move comes during President Donald Trump’s final days in office, in which the administration has made several foreign policy decisions designed in part to set the table for his successor. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the al-Qaeda terrorist group had established a new base of operations in Iran, while on Wednesday the Treasury Department levied new sanctions against foundations controlled by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ruhe said the decision “hands the incoming Biden administration a useful tool for strengthening regional stability and deterrence, even as the new president appears likely to further reduce America’s presence on the ground in the Middle East.”

Established in 1983, the Central Command — or CENTCOM, as it is often known — is responsible for the Middle East, including operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Its current commander is General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., who made his first visit on the job to Israel in 2019.

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