The magnitude of the terrorist threat in the Middle East has grown steadily since the outset of the so-called “Arab Spring.” The need to modernize intelligence in the service of counterterrorism is a matter of particular concern to the Persian Gulf states, which share the common goal of impeding the spread of Iran’s transnational terrorist network and reducing the damage caused by Iran-affiliated Shiite militias. The newly formed intelligence cooperation between Israel and several Arab states has already thwarted Iranian attacks.
The large-scale withdrawal of US military forces from the Middle East, which occurred during the administrations of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, handed Iran an opportunity to dominate the region. The American retreat made the GCC states even more wary of Tehran’s malign influence and intentions.
The new peace agreements between Israel and its new Arab allies in the region, which found common ground with Jerusalem over their common fear of the Iranian regime, did more than secure freedom of navigation in international waters. They opened the Persian Gulf to Israeli intelligence, a consequence that was a shock to the mullahs in isolated Iran. The regime is on a quest to be the regional hegemon, and it is going after that goal via terrorism and a dogged pursuit of nuclear weapons. Iran threatens freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, and supports the operations of the Shiite transnational terrorist network it painstakingly constructed.
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