I know that politically and diplomatically Israel gained a lot with the UAE's new move toward normalizing the relations.

What has Israel gained in the strategic defense area?


The simplest answer may be that this is just formalising what was previously done behind closed doors. The head of Israel's foreign intelligence service visited the UAE days after they announced the treaty.

The UAE may not seem like much of a valuable ally, especially when there are Arab states with larger armies much closer to Israel. But this underestimates Emirati power. The UAE has become a police state, creating an extensive internal security apparatus. This comes at the same time as an expansion of foreign intelligence gathering capability. For years the UAE has paid former CIA officers to train their own brand new intelligence agencies. They have been building the intelligence infrastructure to create an spy network which spreads across the Middle East.

Israeli access to Emirati intelligence should be an obvious and impressive strategic perk, and it works both ways. This is encouraged partly by a joint fear of Iranian influence, which has expanded in no small part thanks to the ineptness of American activities in the Middle East.

Previously, Iranian influence was contained by a hostile Baathist regime in Iraq. This is no longer true: democratic and majority Shia Iraq, in league with Baathist Syria, allows the transport of previously unimaginable quantities of weapons directly from Iran to Israel's borders. This new "Shia land bridge" poses an immediate threat to both Sunni monarchies in the Gulf with Shia minorities, and Israel, as Iran is a major sponsor for various militants in Israel's back yard, most obviously Hamas and Hezbollah.

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