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Monday, September 26, 2011

US linking Israel's missile shield to Turkey and Saudi Arabia

It should be interesting to hear what Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has to say about this story.

You will recall that on Friday I reported on Eli Lake's Newsweek story that says that the Obama administration sold bunker busters to Israel in 2009.

The full story is now out and it includes this little tidbit: The United States is linking the missile defense shields of its Middle East allies - including Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia - via the use of x-band radar which the US insists on controlling.
The Obama administration also initiated a diplomatic effort to persuade Arab and Muslim states in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia and Turkey to commit to an ambitious plan to inter-connect their missile defenses with Israel’s. This topic is particularly sensitive because most Arab states today have no formal diplomatic ties with Israel, and those that do have seen a downgrade in relations since the start of the Arab Spring protests.

Cartwright described the missile shield this way: “Give them the capability, but make the capability inter-dependent between more than one state, so if one pulls out it can never be stronger than the group.”

But the states being forced into cooperation by Washington are not all playing nice. An X-band radar is scheduled to be shipped to Turkey by the end of the year. Yet Turkey’s leaders have threatened not to share data from the radar with Israel. The White House continues to push back against Ankara. Cartwright said that another, similar radar would be installed in a Gulf state in the near future, declining to be more specific.

This vision of an interconnected missile defense for U.S. allies in the Middle East started all the way back with Ronald Reagan. But it is Obama who has pushed it into implementation. “He gets credit,” Cartwright said of Obama. “He is the one that gave the go-ahead.”
But that isn't helping Obama much with Israel's supporters.
“In some ways the U.S.-Israel security relationship continues to get stronger with each new administration,” says Josh Block, the former chief spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “But this administration, in airing private disputes and sometimes publicly distancing itself from Israel, has encouraged Israel’s adversaries to pursue their hostile aims against the Jewish state.” Obama’s poll numbers among U.S. Jews have plummeted from 83 percent at the start of his presidency to 54 percent this month.
Perhaps that's because with the US controlling the radar, there are no guarantees that a country will be able to use it when it needs it. The good news is that - for now at least - Israel is in the control room.

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