Expanding Middle East Maritime Security Cooperation

Fifty nations, including Israel, and international organizations from around the world are currently participating in the U.S.-led International Maritime Exercise (IMX) and Cutlass Express (CE) joint training exercises in Middle Eastern waters. The global interest in these drills—far more than in any regional air- or ground-based exercise—indicates significant international concern about the region’s maritime security, which is directly threatened by Iran’s repeated aggression at sea. In the last two years, JINSA has recorded thirty-four incidents of Iranian naval aggression.

Since Israel is often the target of Iranian attacks at sea and has significant relevant technological capabilities, to better protect the region’s critical waterways the United States should explore ways of including Israel in key multinational maritime initiatives, including the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), and develop an integrated maritime domain network among its Middle Eastern partners.

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Ari Cicurel –  Assistant Director of Foreign Policy