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    Senior army commander Abdullah al-Sahian (C), who commands the Saudi forces in Yemen's southern port city of Aden, talks to his soldiers in their base in Aden, in this September 28, 2015 file photo

    US Proposes Israel-Friendly Arab Defense Pact to Counter Iran

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    The Trump administration has been approaching Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan and Egypt through their diplomatic missions in Washington with proposals to form a US-backed defense pact which would share intelligence with Israel and counter Iran's influence in the region, according to media reports.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — US President Donald Trump's administration has floated the idea of forming an Israel-friendly anti-Iran Arab alliance on the basis of the Saudi-led coalition intervening in Yemen, local media reported Wednesday.

    The administration has been approaching Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan and Egypt through their diplomatic missions in Washington with proposals to form a US-backed defense pact which would share intelligence with Israel and counter Iran's influence in the region, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing Arab diplomats from the embassies.

    "They’ve been asking diplomatic missions in Washington if we’d be willing to join this force that has an Israeli component… Israel’s role would likely be intelligence sharing, not training or boots on the ground. They’d provide intelligence and targets. That’s what the Israelis are good at," a diplomat told the newspaper.

    The Arab alliance would also be offered increased US military aid in return for agreeing to protect each other in case of external attack.

    Cobbling together an Israeli-friendly coalition involving Gulf states could prove a difficult task as both Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel. Arab diplomats have reportedly asked for Israel to stop its illegal settlement activities in the occupied West Bank as a condition for cooperation under US proposals.

    The coalition would be formed by expanding the ongoing Saudi-led intervention in the Yemeni civil war, where Iran is said to be backing the Shiite Houthi rebels. The United States pledged to increase military aid to the campaign as well as help secure Red Sea shipping routes from the outfall of the war.

    The coalition has turned down making comments on the talks, as has the US administration and Israel.

    Yemen's civil war between the internationally recognized Aden-based government and the Houthi movement backed by army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh erupted in March 2015. The Saudi-led coalition of Persian Gulf countries began the same month and has since been criticized for hitting civilians, causing disproportional child casualties and damaging vital non-military infrastructure. The coalition insists that it seeks to minimize civilian casualties.

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    Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Yemen, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, United States
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