Israel Agrees to Support NATO Counter-Terrorism Patrols
(October 16, 2006)
On October 16, 2006, Israel agreed to provide support for NATO counter-terrorism patrols in the Mediterranean when it signed a cooperation pact with NATO. Israel was the first of seven Middle Eastern countries to accept the 2004 offer to join NATO and to agree to all the terms of cooperation.
Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has sought to bolster its presence in the Middle East. In 2004, in an effort to accomplish this goal, NATO offered Israel, Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia help in reforming their armies so they would be more able to cooperate with the militaries of alliance nations. NATO also encouraged these countries to provide ships, intelligence and port access for the counter-terrorism patrols that NATO launched after September 11.
While Algeria and Morocco have expressed an interest in supporting NATO, the other Arab countries asked to cooperate have not been as supportive. Many in the Arab world view NATO as a United States dominated organization interested in interfering with the affairs of other countries. Despite such feelings, for the first time NATO held a meeting for its seven Mediterranean partners in an Arab country, Morocco. In addition, the alliance is planning to provide office training for the seven countries as well as for four Gulf states. Diplomats have also suggested that Jordan is interested in hosting a NATO-run academy, however no final decisions have yet been made.