Israel has begun considering the ramifications of Arab allies building their militaries with Western arms and technology.
The Israel Army General Staff has determined that Israel could be threatened by Western-equipped armies along its border. The military has been mostly worried over the threat of advanced U.S. weapons in the militaries of Egypt and Jordan.
“This is not an immediate threat, but it is not something that we can ignore,” a military source said. “When we have F-16s and they have F-16s, then the difference between us is not great.”
The concern over the Western-equipped Arab militaries has been deemed a leading medium- and long-term threat by the General Staff. The military brass has been drafting short- and medium-term assessments for 2007, which would be presented to the government in December.
The sources said Israel has discussed the U.S. equipping of the Egyptian military with the Bush administration. They said the Israelis have sought assurances as well as decisions that would ensure superiority of the Jewish state over its neighbors, even those who have been at peace.
The threat has been particularly acute with Egypt, which over the last 25 years has built an air force comprised of F-16s and AH-64 Apache helicopters. The Egyptians have also been building an armored force of nearly 1,000 M1A1 main battle tanks.
“The commitment of the Egyptians to peace and stability has become increasingly questionable,” the source said. “At the same time, [President Hosni] Mubarak’s regime has been fading while the Muslim Brotherhood is growing stronger.”
The latest military assessment raised the prospect of an Islamic revolution in Egypt that would turn its U.S.-equipped military against Israel. The General Staff also discussed the stability of Jordan, which has been receiving F-16s and advanced weapons.
The General Staff has determined the leading short-range threat as a war with Hibzullah and Syria in 2007. Another threat was of a Middle East war in wake of an expected U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.