In January, a decision from the Pentagon brought Israel under the area of responsibility of the US Central Command (CENTCOM).
The decision came after a series of historic reconciliation agreements between Israel and several Arab countries (the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco) that saw the latter recognizing Israel and establishing diplomatic relations with the Jewish nation. Other Arab countries might follow suit and also recognize Israel.
Israel as the 21st country that falls under the CENTCOM
When CENTCOM was established in 1983, only Egypt had recognized Israel, forcing the Pentagon to place the country under the responsibility of the US European Command (EUCOM).
One of the US military’s 11 combatant commands, CENTCOM is responsible for commanding and controlling all US troops in the Middle East, Central Asia, and parts of Southwest Asia. For the past 40 years, CENTCOM has been one of the most active combatant commands, with wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria boosting the command’s importance to the Pentagon.
“The easing of tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors subsequent to the Abraham Accords has provided a strategic opportunity for the United States to align key partners against shared threats in the Middle East,” the Department of Defense stated in a press release. “Israel is a leading strategic partner for the United States, and this will open up additional opportunities for cooperation with our U.S. Central Command partners while maintaining strong cooperation between Israel and our European allies.”
In a statement, Benny Gantz, the Israeli defense minister, said that “[we are] glad that following weeks of dialogue between our defense establishments, including with former Defense Secretary Dr. Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, the Pentagon has moved military overview of Israel to Central Command, which includes other countries in the Middle East. This shift will further boost cooperation between the IDF and the US Armed Forces in confronting regional challenges, along with other friends with whom we share interests.”
Currently, CENTCOM’s main priorities are deterring Iran; the war in Afghanistan; the anti-ISIS campaign in Iraq and Syria; weapons and chemical weapons proliferation; and preventing the weaponization of internally displaced persons and refugees, of which there are millions as a result of the Syrian Civil War.
Israel’s inclusion to CENTCOM suggests a desire to create a united front against Iran, the major destabilizing actor in the region. Both Israel, which Iran has been seeking to destroy for decades, and several Sunni Arab countries see Iran as their main enemy.
Thus, Israel inclusion to CENTCOM suggest a tougher position toward Iran and might even adumbrate more direct action against its theocratic government.