Quadrilateral War Room for Red Sea Tiran Island

The transfer of Sanafir and Tiran islands from Egyptian to Saudi sovereignty, which sparked widespread public opposition and unrest in Egypt, is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the rapidly developing military relations between Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was quoted saying that “we have reached an agreement between the four parties – the Saudis, the Egyptians, Israel and the United States – to transfer the responsibility for the islands in condition that the Saudis step into the Egyptian shoes in the military appendix of the peace treaty.”
Commenting on the latest developments, ex-IDF Gen. Yaakov Amidror said on April 13 that “there is no doubt that the relations between Egypt and Israel are on a higher level than ever. It is also clear that Saudi Arabia has many interests that are linked to Israeli interests. I would also add Jordan to this.” Amidror is a former head of the Israeli national Security Council.
Neither Ya’alon nor Amidror provided further details regarding the agreement, but DEBKA Weekly’s military and intelligence sources report exclusively that the main part of this military understanding includes a plan for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and Jordan to establish a joint war room on Red sea's Tiran Island.
The decision to establish the war room was made on April 11th during a secret meeting at King Abdullah’s palace in Aqaba between Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The Jordanian military’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Mashal Al-Zaben, was also present.
The Saudi minister flew to Aqaba from Cairo during his father's, King Salman, state visit to Egypt. On Wednesday, April 20th, the IDF deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, said that the intelligence cooperation between Israel, Egypt and Jordan is the closest ever.
The war room will coordinate the operations of the fleets and the air forces of the four countries over a 2,500-kilometer area from the Mediterranean to the Suez Canal, the Gulf of Suez, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the Bab al-Mandab Strait, where the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean meet (see attached map).
The new framework will operate independently but be in contact with the US Central Command (CENTCOM) as well as the Commands of the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and the US Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf. It will also be connected to the French air force command at Tabuk airbase in northern Saudi Arabia.
The French link to this framework is the reason for Riyadh’s willingness to finance the giant $1 billion arms deal announced on April 17th during French President Francois Hollande’s visit to Cairo. The deal includes a French delivery of two new Mistral helicopter carriers to the Egyptian navy this summer.
The amphibious carriers, considered the most advanced ships of their kind, can carry up to 16 helicopters, such as the Ka-52 Alligator strike helicopter and the Ka-27 and Ka-29 Kamov anti-submarine helicopters. These vessels will be the core of the naval forces at the disposal of the command center on Tiran. The arrival of these carriers in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea may end the dependence of Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia on US aircraft carriers, which are now reduced to only one left in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.
DEBKA Weekly’s military sources report that the main purpose of the new military alliance is to detter the Iranian fleet from accessing the Red Sea and the Gulf of Suez area, and to make it clear to Tehran that neither Riyadh, Cairo, Jerusalem nor Amman will allow Iranian warships to dictate free passage and security in those waters.
It will be the first time for four Middle Eastern countries to set up a joint naval and air force command to protect maritime traffic in the Red Sea, the Tiran Strait and the Bab el-Mandab Strait.
The four-country initiative will also be the second time for Israel to participate in a regional military command. It is already part of the US Central Command-Forward outside Amman that coordinates the US, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel operation against ISIS in Southern Syria and Western Iraq.
For more details of the alliances developing in the region, see “Saudis Round up Egypt and Turkey under Same Umbrella” and The Bridge that Goes Nowhere” in DEBKA Weekly issue 706, released April 15.

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