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

April 7, 2022 | Bradley Bowman, Ryan Brobst, Seth Frantzman
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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.

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