For the First Time, Saudi Arabia Publicly Observes Israeli Military Drills

Last week marked the beginning of the annual Iniochos military exercise, in which military contingents from around the world gather in Greece to work with partner forces on honing their detection and striking skills, in part by demonstrating new techniques and equipment. Participants this year include the United States, Israel, Cyprus, France, Italy, and Slovenia, along with observers from over ten other countries—including, for the first time ever, Saudi Arabia, which has no formal relations with the Jewish state. Bradley Bowman, Ryan Brobst, and Seth Frantzman explain the significance of this step closer to outright cooperation between the two countries:

Israel is using Inochios 2022 to rehearse some of the combat capabilities it would need to conduct strikes against Iran’s nuclear program. . . . Saudi Arabia increasingly acknowledges in public what it has long understood in private: Tehran and its terror proxies—not Israel—represent the real threat to regional peace and security.

Perhaps that is why Riyadh was willing to have Israeli and Saudi fighter jets escort (albeit at different times) a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer Bomber on a patrol mission that circumnavigated the Arabian Peninsula in October 2021. Earlier this year, a common Saudi-Israeli perception of the Iranian threat may have also motivated both Israel and Saudi Arabia to participate in the U.S.-led International Maritime Exercise, the Middle East’s largest maritime exercise.

The more Israel, the United States, and its Arab partners conduct military exercises together, the more they can strengthen the readiness of their individual forces, share intelligence on threats, and develop common best practices for countering Tehran-supported terrorist groups that endanger Israelis, Americans, and Arabs alike. This is especially important as Iran and its proxies have stepped up attacks in recent months, from drones targeting Israel to strikes on Saudi energy infrastructure to attacks on ships at sea. In fact, the Iranian-backed Houthis just conducted a three-week-long assault against Saudi Arabia, demonstrating the danger Tehran poses to regional stability.

Read more at RealClear Defense

More about: IDF, Iran nuclear program, Saudi Arabia

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict