Israel, Saudi Arabia agree to expand cooperation on security, transport

Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have agreed to expand joint efforts to protect the security and transportation of passengers from attacks by the Islamic State group, an Israeli security official told The Jerusalem Report.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the accord.

The two countries are the only Gulf Arab states that have been directly involved in fighting the extremist group, which has declared an Islamic caliphate in territories it controls in Iraq and Syria.

The Islamic State’s presence has caused fears among some Arab states, who fear it could pose a threat to their national security.

The U.S. is also helping to train and equip the Iraqi security forces battling the group.

Saudi Arabia has deployed its air force to Syria and launched air raids against the group last month, as it tries to stem a surge in violence by the extremist Sunni Muslim group that includes the beheading of British aid worker David Haines in Syria.

Israel has deployed military forces to protect its southern border with Syria, while Saudi Arabia has sent a fleet of warships to the region.

The UAE has deployed warships to Bahrain and has launched a bombing campaign against the Sunni extremist group in Yemen.

The security accord signed Thursday between the three countries comes after an eight-day meeting in Amman between King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The three countries have worked to combat terrorism and improve their relations over the past years, with Riyadh and Cairo pledging to cooperate in combating international terrorism.

Saudi Arabia also announced on Monday that it will open a diplomatic office in Cairo, the first of its kind in the Middle East.

Egypt has been a main backer of the U.K. in fighting terrorism, particularly in the past decade.

Saudi and Egyptian officials have met many times to discuss the fight against terrorism, but the relationship has been strained over the decades, with the two countries rarely signing on to counter terrorism financing, human rights abuses and economic sanctions.

The two countries also have not been able to agree on a shared agenda in Syria and Iraq.