In April 2021, NATO will celebrate its seventy-second birthday, which prompts the question of how successful the organization has been, especially in its efforts to stifle the conflict in the Middle East. After all, the region is one of the threats to global security due to its instability and relative fragility compared to NATO members. Over the decades, the organization has invested many resources to initiate interventions to stabilize the region. Despite that, the local states are now arguable then weaker, and more fragile. It is crucial to examine NATO’s relations with the Middle East from the perspective of one of the most influential global players currently, which is Israel.
The first reason why Israel has been selected for this assignment is its long history with NATO as one of the organization’s most valuable partners. Israel is a part of the Mediterranean Dialogue created to foster support and fruitful collaboration between Israel, the alliance, and a variety of other nations from the Middle East and North Africa (Dell, 2020). The second reason is that apart from being an important associate to promote stability in the region, Israel also provides critical intelligence to NATO through Mossad (Dell, 2020). This intelligence has been exceptionally useful to the efforts of the international community to weaken the foundation of terrorist regimes. Lastly, the third reason is the peculiarity of Israel’s established foreign policy and defense structures, which are not designed to cooperate easily with international organizations (van Creveld, 2005). Israel has a unique perspective as a semi-pariah state, which is subjected to being a minority at any global gathering full of Christian or Muslim states.
NATO’s relations with the Middle East have gone through transformations due to certain changes in the political or economic climate, as well as a global conflict. However, Israel might serve as an example that while religious differences could be ignored, political ideology would always remain a common ground for NATO members and other states. The primary reason why there had been no objections to the existence of the Jewish state or a long-term partnership with it was a pro-Western, liberal stance adopted by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion (van Creveld, 2005). It is that much harder for Muslim states in the Middle East to partner and collaborates with NATO because of the political ideologies their governments tend to function off of.
NATO’s newfound interest in the Middle East could be explained by the sheer amount of threats, which originate from the region. As a pro-Western state in the proximity of critical political regimes of Muslim states, Israel is a frequent partner to NATO’s interventions. The Israel-NATO collaboration demonstrates the preferred framework for partnerships NATO utilizes with the Middle East countries – the possibility of a formal independent relationship without the opportunity for potential membership (Comitato Atlantico Italiano, 2019). Thus, partners have the chance to participate actively in crisis assessment and response planning although the format of such a partnership is flexible enough to exempt NATO and the Alliance from any specific obligations. NATO’s relations with Israel show an overall trend in the organization’s hyper-focus on the Middle East. The region occupies the strategic attention of the Alliance as the political and economic climate in the Middle East can have a direct impact on the West’s vital interests.
Comitato Atlantico Italiano. (2019). NATO-Israel relations: The Level of Ambition. COMIT. Web.
Dell, J. (2020). Special report: Could, should, and would Israel become a NATO member? NATO Association of Canada. Web.
van Creveld, M. (2005). NATO, Israel and peace in the Middle East. NATO Review. Web.