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The International Maritime Exercise: A Diplomatic Opportunity for Israel in its Region | (dot)security

(dot)security | A space by JACOPO FRANCESCHINI

The International Maritime Exercise (IMX) is the U.S.-led biannual naval drill with Washington’s allies across the Middle East and the Indian Ocean regions. In the 2022 edition of the IMX, as a newcomer, Israel will participate in the military naval initiative. 

The Israel Defense Force declared that: “The Missile Ship Flotilla and the Underwater Missions Unit will train with the American 5th Fleet in the area of the Red Sea, as part of the overall exercise“. Israel already participated in November 2021 in another American naval drill in the Red Sea, alongside Bahrein, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates, with which Tel Aviv has recently normalized its relations.

The IMX taking place for three weeks during February 2022 may also serve as a diplomatic tool for Israel, since among the participant countries are present Pakistan, Oman, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Comoros, Somalia, which have no official relations nor ties with Israel. However, joining the IMX may represent a first attempt for Israel to expand its agenda of normalization of relations with the neighboring countries. Establishing formal ties with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan would also be decisive in undermining Iran’s regional power role and further increasing Teheran’s isolation in the region.

Besides the diplomatic benefits, for Israel, IMX would also represent an opportunity to join the most extensive naval drill in the world for the use of unmanned systems and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and consequently enhance and/or learn through real situation training, its already well-developed technological capabilities in military sector.