Israel’s neighborhood becoming more Islamist, increasingly volatile

Military Intelligence Chief presents annual intel assessment to the IDF’s general staff • US’s weapons sales tripled last year to $66.3 billion as Gulf states sought to build up their military supplies amid tensions with Iran.

By Lilach Shoval, Eli Leon, Daniel Siryoti, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff


Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi warned on Monday that Israel will face an increasingly volatile region in the coming year, one that is “more tense and Islamist in nature than before.” Kochavi presented his annual intelligence assessment to Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and the Israel Defense Forces’ general staff.

Israel’s surroundings have become increasingly unstable says Military Intelligence Director Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi. Photo: Yehoshua Yosef

According to Kochavi, the area is “experiencing a series of crises, both regional and internal, which add to the overall sensitivity of the players involved and could lead to unexpected flare-ups.”

Kochavi opened his presentation saying that “the annual intelligence assessment is the result of a long and thorough process of research and analysis. The work is led by the research unit and utilizes all of the existing intelligence-gathering bodies in the intelligence branch, as well as ones created in the passing year.”

The annual intelligence assessment is intended to present Israel’s strategic and operative developments before the IDF’s general staff, and to identify central threats and new opportunities.

Fighting in the Syrian city of Homs from a video clip shot by a Syrian fighter – Photo: AFP

A spokesperson for the IDF stated that the assessment would be later passed on to the government.

In related news, foreign weapon sales by the U.S. tripled last year to $66.3 billion as Persian Gulf states sought to build up their military supplies amid growing tensions with Iran, a new report said.

U.S. arms sales reached a record high, up from $21.4 billion in 2010 and $31 billion in 2009, according to a study by the U.S. Congressional Research Service.

Weapons sales declined amid the global economic downturn but increasing tensions with Iran over its nuclear weapons program have seen Gulf countries spend billions of dollars on defense procurement.

Foreign arms sales have become increasingly important to weapons makers as the Pentagon’s budget flattens because of U.S. deficit-reduction requirements.

Egyptian forces during their recent campaign to eradicate global jihad elements in Sinai. – Photo: AFP

U.S. military deals with Saudi Arabia topped $33.4 billion last year, according to the report. Agreements included the purchase of 84 advanced F-15 fighter planes and upgrades of 70 of the F-15 fighter planes in the current fleet, said the report.

The United Arab Emirates purchased Lockheed Martin’s Theatre High Altitude Area Defence system in a deal valued at $3.49 billion last December and 16 Chinook helicopters for $939 million. Oman acquired 18 F-16 fighters for $1.4 billion.

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