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Wall Street Journal: US Arranges Secret Talks between «Israel», UAE over Iran

Wall Street Journal: US Arranges Secret Talks between «Israel», UAE over Iran
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By Staff, Wall Street Journal

“Israel” and the United Arab Emirates held secret meetings arranged by the US in recent months to share information and coordinate efforts to counter what they see as the increasing threat posed by Iran, according to US officials familiar with the clandestine diplomacy, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The meetings were convened by Brian Hook, the State Department’s top official for Iran, and are the latest sign of a steady thaw between the “Israeli” entity and Gulf Arab nations, largely brought about by their shared antipathy toward Tehran and its attempts to spread its regional influence.

According to WSJ, a first meeting took place this spring and a second was held more recently, a US official said. The exact dates and locations of the unpublicized meetings couldn’t be learned. Their existence was known to only a handful of people within the US government, officials said.

The entity has no diplomatic ties among Arab states and disagreements remain with those two as well as other Arab nations, particularly over the “Israeli”-Palestinian dispute.

But covert, and occasionally overt, contacts between the entity and Gulf Arab nations have increased rapidly in recent years as concerns grew about Iran’s nuclear program and its role in conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

The discussions among US, “Israeli” and Emirati officials, although still in the preliminary stages, appear to indicate those contacts have gone beyond being symbolic and exploratory to mapping coordination on specific issues. They were intended to increase diplomatic, military and intelligence cooperation in dealing with Iran, the US officials said

The deepening normalization between the entity and the UAE is an outgrowth of a US-brokered conference on Middle East security held in Warsaw in February. The two-day meeting brought together leaders from “Israel”, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and dozens of other countries in an effort to build a global campaign against Iran.

The Warsaw meeting brought the “Israeli” entity’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu together with Arab leaders for wide-ranging discussions on how to challenge Iran. Those talks led to the creation of coordinated discussions between the entity and the UAE—both close US allies—that are coordinated by Hook.

However, there was no comment from either officials from the UAE or “Israel”.

As head of the State Department’s Iran Action Group, Hook has worked to bring the adversaries together for secret meetings, according to people familiar with the discussions.

“The Iran Action Group has been working with several countries to coordinate diplomatic, security and intelligence activities in response to Iran’s escalating aggression,” a senior Trump administration official said. “These efforts have helped to pre-empt and neutralize multiple Iranian threats including cyber operations. The official didn’t identify any specific threats that were thwarted.

The UAE took a more cautious approach than the US as tensions with Iran rose this summer. It declined to join Washington in blaming Iran for attacks on commercial ships in May, and last month sent officials to Tehran to discuss maritime security. Tensions have risen since President Trump last year withdrew from a six-nation nuclear deal with Iran and increased economic sanctions on the country.

“Israel” has made building ties to the Gulf States a major diplomatic priority. The entity’s foreign minister visited the UAE earlier this year for a UN conference. The minister, Israel Katz, was quoted last week as saying he had met with a “high-ranking persona” in the Emirati government. Katz also met last month in Washington with Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa. There was nothing covert about that meeting – both sides agreed to release a photo of the two men with a smiling Hook between them.

 

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