Does U.S. plan to create ‘Arab NATO’?
The Trump administration has in recent months been quietly working on creating a new security alliance comprised of six Gulf Arab states plus Egypt and Jordan, unofficially known as the “Arab NATO,” and also dubbed the “Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), Defence News writes.
The six Gulf Arab nations are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.
According to the alliance’s objectives, which are expected to be formally announced during the Oct. 12-13 U.S.-Gulf summit in Washington, the new establishment will serve as a “bulwark against Iranian aggression, terrorism, extremism and will bring stability to the Middle East,” a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council said.
The idea of establishing a broad Arab alliance dates back to the beginning of the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011. Such an alliance was again considered in 2015, but the previous U.S. administration under President Barack Obama was preoccupied with its adoption of a gradual withdrawal strategy from the region.
U.S. President Donald Trump, however, has shown more interest in the region through his tough rhetoric on Iran, accusing it of being the “head of international terrorism” and calling it a threat to U.S national security, the Gulf Cooperation Council and longtime U.S. ally Israel.
The idea of a security pact was re-emphasized ahead of Trump’s visit last year to Saudi Arabia, where he announced a massive arms deal. But according to a U.S. source who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, the alliance proposal “did not get off the ground.”
However, some analysts believe MESA will remain an idea whose time may never come.