The Middle East: Are the Arab countries with Iran or Israel?

The British and American air forces helped repel Iranian attacks, but it seems that the Arab countries are increasingly supporting Israel behind the scenes, even though they are officially against Israel

by Sededin Dedovic
The Middle East: Are the Arab countries with Iran or Israel?
© Handout / Getty Images

In the maze of Middle Eastern geopolitics, there are few conflicts that can rival the longstanding hostility between Iran and Israel. Recent events, marked by Iran's unprecedented missile attacks on Israel and the subsequent response by regional allies, have once again thrust this volatile relationship into the spotlight.

Israel's allies came to its defense: British and American air forces helped repel Iranian attacks. France was also apparently involved, although it is not clear whether French units fired the rockets. This is the first time in history that one of these countries has directly attacked the territory of another country, in this case Israel.

However, the history of relations between these two countries is stormy. The roots of Iranian-Israeli enmity can be traced back to the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which transformed Iran from a staunch ally of Israel under the Shah to an ardent adversary after the establishment of the Islamic Republic.

The revolutionary regime, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, viewed Israel as a symbol of Western imperialism and a threat to Muslim interests in the region. Consequently, Iran has become a staunch supporter of Palestinian resistance movements, including Hamas and Hezbollah, which have become instrumental in Iran's proxy war against Israel.

The Geopolitical Checkerboard: Iran's Regional Ambitions

Iran's geopolitical aspirations extend beyond its borders, driven by a desire to assert itself as a regional power and challenge the dominance of its Sunni Arab rivals, particularly Saudi Arabia.

Through a combination of military interventions, proxy (Hamas, Hezzbollah, Yemen Huti...) wars and strategic alliances, Iran has sought to expand its influence in the Middle East, from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Yemen.

Supporters of Hezbollah gather at al-Ashoura square in southern suburbs of Beirut to listen to the speech of the Secretary-gener© Marwan Tahtah / Getty Images

In Syria, Iran's support for the Assad regime not only served to protect its strategic interests, but also represented a launching pad for its anti-Israeli activities.

Similarly, in Lebanon, Hezbollah, Iran's most formidable proxy, has emerged as a powerful military and political force, posing a direct threat to Israel's security. Hezbollah's arsenal of rockets and missiles, supplied and financed by Iran, has the potential to wreak havoc on Israeli cities in the event of a full-scale conflict.

In recent years, Israel has adopted a multifaceted approach to curbing Iranian influence, combining military strikes, covert operations and diplomatic initiatives aimed at garnering international support against Tehran.

Arab-Iranian relations

The fact that the Jordanian air force provided support to Israel attracted a lot of attention.

Namely, the neighboring country opened its airspace for Israeli and American planes, and apparently participated in shooting down drones that violated the sovereignty of its airspace. Reuters reports that residents of Jordan have noticed a lot of activity in the airspace.

Footage of the remains of a downed drone in the south of the Jordanian capital, Amman, circulated on social networks. "In addition, the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, may have played an indirect role, as they host Western air defense systems, aerial surveillance and aircraft refueling capabilities - all of which are necessary for the operation," writes the British Economist.

. "Iran's attacks have rallied behind Israel even more supporters from around the world, including influential Arab states that are critical of Israel's offensive in Gaza but support a response to Iran's drone strikes," said Julien Barnes-Dacey, program director for Middle East and North Africa at the European Council for Foreign Affairs.

One in five people in Jordan, including its queen, is of Palestinian descent, and in recent weeks there have been increasing protests against Israel. At the same time, Jordan shares a border with Israel, oversees the Al Aqsa Mosque and the holy hill in Jerusalem, one of the most important places for Muslims, Jews and Christians.

The United States of America is an important ally of that country, while Jordan mostly cooperates with Israel behind the scenes.


President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan on their arrival at th© Pool / Getty Images

The Saudis also have many reasons to shoot down Iranian missiles.

For decades, the Middle East has been divided along religious and confessional lines. In the Gulf Arab states, the majority of the population is Sunni, while in Iran, the majority is Persian and Shiite. Countries like Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, however, are multi-ethnic, with a mixture of Shia and Sunni as well as other religions and numerous ethnic groups.

To the extent that Iran and the Gulf states have tried to expand their influence there, they have found themselves caught between two fires. "Regional actors - primarily Saudi Arabia and Jordan, which allegedly intercepted Iranian drones - will claim that they had to protect their own airspace," said Massoud Mostajabi, director of the Middle East program at the US Atlantic Council, reports DeutscheWelle.

Iran American