US officials say the Biden administration has initiated an “unprecedented” effort bring the Pentagon and Israeli army into direct joint military planning.
“The Biden administration proposed to Israel a few weeks ago the idea of engaging in joint military planning concerning Iran, three U.S. and Israeli officials told Axios,” according to the publication.
Already the two have been engaged in somewhat routine joint drills on Israeli soil, some of which employ scenarios of a conflict involving Iran or its regional proxies. There was also close intelligence coordination between Israel and the White House particularly during the Trump administration, for example when IRGC Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani was assassinated in Baghdad in January 2020.
Axios detailed further of the proposal, “The U.S. official added that such joint planning means that each side shares its plans for different contingencies and both sides can discuss ways to better deal with different scenarios that could develop regarding Iran’s activities in the region.”
All of this comes after it’s become clear there will be no restored JCPOA nuclear deal with Tehran, even though the Europeans have still sought ways to salvage it of late. At the same time, China has brokered peace and normalization between the Saudis and Iranians.
Israel has over the past years conducted high risk covert sabotage and assassination campaigns inside the Islamic Republic, and in some cases across the region (especially with frequent bombing raids on Syria), which it says is aimed at disrupting Tehran’s ‘terrorist’ acts but most importantly to prevent any attempt to achieve nuclear weapons.
While close US-Israeli cooperation seems obvious enough, also given the billions in US foreign aid Tel Aviv receives each year, some Israeli officials are wary and cautious about the Biden administration plan, voicing concerns to Axios that it could “tie Israel’s hands.”
Earlier this month, national security advisor Jake Sullivan sought to calm these objections, telling a foreign policy event in D.C., “We have made clear to Iran that it can never be permitted to obtain a nuclear weapon. As President Biden has repeatedly reaffirmed, he will take the actions that are necessary to stand by this statement, including by recognizing Israel’s freedom of action.”
Overall things have been tense between the Biden White House and Netanyahu government, as the recently re-elected Israeli prime minister has not so much as been invited to meet with Biden in the Oval Office yet, which is unusual for any PM taking office, in terms of such a long delay.