The steady and gradual alignment of Israeli and Gulf Arab interests publicly culminated in the 2020 Abraham Accords. Diplomatic and mil-to-mil relations between Israel and its neighbors continue to expand and will likely further expand to new nations as the next generation of Arab leaders ascends. For decades, U.S. engagement in the Middle East has been defined by its steady and outsized military presence and posture in the region. However, a National Defense Strategy that frames Russia as an “acute threat” and China as “the pacing challenge” will likely require a reconsideration of the U.S. military’s robust presence and posture throughout the Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility. We are presented with a potential moment for the United States to redefine its role in the region from “hulking hall monitor” to “nimble convenor”.
The CNAS Middle East Security Program will assess the potential for Israel and Gulf-Arab states to establish, develop, and expand a regional security architecture to advance their shared security objectives, particularly in the context of Iran’s activities and regional objectives. The program will explore the advancements this nascent regional security architecture could have on collective security in the maritime domain, ballistic missile defense, intelligence sharing, and cooperative technological innovation. Additionally, the program will examine and recommend how the United States might bolster its relationships, security, and standing as the “global partner of choice,” by leveraging U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and other elements of the U.S. government as a partner, facilitator, and enabler of these growing, multilateral relationships.