File Photo: Israel Defence Minister Benny Gantz. AFP
What is the Middle East Air Defence Alliance (MEAD)?
The alliance was first unveiled by Israel Defence Minister Benny Gantz on Monday during a briefing to Israeli lawmakers. The cooperation is a defence and security US-led system to confront Iran. An Israeli official told Reuters, on condition of anonymity, that participating countries synchronise their respective air defence systems through remote electronic communication, rather than the use of typical weapons systems.
Gantz described MEAD as the “first element” of a shared vision “in the face of Iran's attempts to attack the region's countries using rockets, cruise missiles, and UAVs' unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as drones.
Has MEAD come into effect?
The program is already operative and has already conducted successful interceptions of Iranian attempts to attack Israel and other countries, according to Gantz. However, Gantz did not give further details about targeted dates or countries. Israel considers Iran to be its greatest enemy while several Arab Gulf countries consider it a threat too.
Who are the participating states?
No names were announced and several attempts by Reuters and AP to get confirmation from Arab embassies were declined. However, Gantz has said that US President Joe Biden’s visit to the region, which includes Israel and Saudi Arabia in mid-July “will support this process [MEAD]”. Reuters quoted a Western diplomat in the Arabian Gulf region saying that Washington is still working on convincing Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states as a bloc to agree on joining the U.S.-Israeli integrated air defence system. The GCC consists of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman.
Israel has already established full diplomatic relations with UAE and Bahrain two years ago. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has stated that the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is a prerequisite for the normalisation of relations with Israel.