Instability in the Middle East could lead to “new and different alliances” in the region, said Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, who was in Jerusalem this week to discuss issues of strategic interest to the US and Israel. Dempsey said crises in Syria and Egypt, as well as tensions between Gulf Arab states and Iran, present new avenues for engagement that previously didn’t exist between Israel and other countries in the region, according to a March 31 release. Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states that have formal peace treaties with Israel. “I think there are enough issues across the region in common that it should provide an opportunity for greater cooperation,” Dempsey said. “So our allies become allies with each other.” The US also has discussed intelligence sharing, training, and foreign military sales with Israel and its neighbors as a means of combating al Qaeda’s regional network. At the same time, nervousness about Iranian intentions remains strong in both Israel and Gulf Arab states. “As threats evolve, so, too, do our systems of alliances to deal with them,” Dempsey said, adding there is a “greater acceptance” of military-to-military leadership in the region. (See Allies in the Gulf from Air Force Magazine’s November 2013 issue.) (See also April 1 AFPS report by Jim Garamone.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.