Sunday, April 11th | 30 Nisan 5781

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March 10, 2021 1:34 pm

Israeli Intelligence Cooperation with Arab Allies Thwarts Iranian Terrorism

avatar by Erfan Fard

Opinion

Israeli model May Tager, holding an Israeli flag, poses with Dubai-resident model Anastasia Bandarenka, holding an Emirati flag, during a photo shoot for FIX’s Princess Collection, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sept. 8, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Christopher Pike.

The large-scale withdrawal of US military forces from the Middle East, which occurred during the administrations of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, handed Iran an opportunity to dominate the region. The American retreat made the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states even more wary of Tehran’s malign influence and intentions.

The new peace agreements between Israel and its new Arab allies in the region, which found common ground with Jerusalem over their common fear of the Iranian regime, did more than secure freedom of navigation in international waters. They opened the Persian Gulf to Israeli intelligence, a consequence that was a shock to the mullahs in isolated Iran. The regime is on a quest to be the regional hegemon, and it is going after that goal via terrorism and a dogged pursuit of nuclear weapons. Iran threatens freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, and supports the operations of the Shiite transnational terrorist network it painstakingly constructed.

During the past two months, Israel’s Mossad alerted the intelligence communities of its new Arab allies to threats coming from Iran, and the Israeli embassy in Ethiopia was put on high alert. Iran, which targeted embassies in the 1990s with the help of Al-Qaeda, was suspected of planning a similar terrorist spree at embassies again, this time to send a message to the Biden administration that it has to make a deal with Iran, and make it fast.

The Mossad is believed to have conveyed the message to its Arab allies that Iran was planning a series of attacks on Israeli, UAE, and US targets around the world, particularly in Africa. On February 15, 2021, Ethiopian authorities arrested 16 suspects who were planning an attack on the UAE embassy in Addis Ababa. According to the Ethiopian authorities, the Iranian cell had planned an attack on the UAE embassy in Sudan as well.

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As these arrests indicate, cooperation on counter-terrorism between Israel and its Arab allies will hinder the ability of Iran’s Quds Force to activate sleeper cells and conduct terrorist attacks.

Tensions are high in the region over concerns that President Biden will return to the Obama-era nuclear deal with Tehran and lift the sanctions placed on Iran by President Trump. The form Biden’s nuclear diplomacy will take with Iran is not yet clear, but it is to be hoped that Biden will take into account the US intelligence community’s ample information on Iran’s support for, and direction of, terrorist groups.

Erfan Fard is a counterterrorism analyst and Middle East Studies researcher based in Washington, DC. Twitter: @EQFARD

A version of this article was originally published by The BESA Center.

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