Monday, February 22, 2016

Shifting Middle East alliances could compromise Israel's intelligence, officials warn - Shlomo Cesana

by Shlomo Cesana

Israeli political and defense leaders are confronting the complex challenge of how to maintain full cooperation with allies while refraining from providing sensitive information to enemies, like Hezbollah, as regional alliances shift rapidly.

Israeli officials are concerned that information gathered by Israel and shared with its allies and friendly organizations could eventually end up in the hands of its enemies, including the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. The reason is the rapidly shifting Middle East, which has given rise to new alliances and coalitions. 

The political and defense leadership echelons in Israel are confronting the complex challenge of how to maintain full cooperation with allies while avoiding rewarding hostile groups or countries, like Hezbollah, which ultimately gain strength and victories from this kind of information. 

A senior Israeli official remarked recently that this reality, in which Israel provides information to partners who share its values and interests, stems from the fact that all sides agree that Israel possesses regional and intelligence superiority. 

Though the source of the information is never revealed, the concern in Israel is that methods will become exposed. Israel says there is currently unprecedented interest in the region, particularly because of the fighting in Syria and the activities of the Islamic State group. A wide range of players is showing interest in what is happening in the region: the United States, Russia, European forces, Iran, Turkey, Arab nations, and a long list of terrorist organizations. 

On the one hand, Israel is protecting its own interests and trying to avoid involvement in the regional conflicts. But, on the other hand, the need for regional coordination makes it impossible for Israel to discontinue cooperation with its partners or to ignore Israeli allies' cooperation with its enemies.

Shlomo Cesana


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