President Trump ‘forging’ an Arab NATO to Confront Iran
The Trump Administration is quietly pushing ahead with a bid to create a new security and political alliance with 6 Gulf Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, in part to counter Iran’s expansion in the region, according to US and Arab officials.
The White House wants to see deeper cooperation between the countries on missile defense, military training, counter-terrorism and other issues such as strengthening regional economic and diplomatic ties.
The plan to forge what officials in the White House and Middle East have dubbed an “Arab NATO” of Sunni Muslim allies will likely raise tensions between the United States and Shi’ite Iran. The 2 nations are at odds since President Donald Trump took office.
The Trump Administration’s goal is that the effort, tentatively known as the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), might be discussed at a Summit currently scheduled for Washington, DC on 12-13 October
The White House confirmed it was working on the concept of the alliance with “our regional partners now and have been for several months.”
Saudi officials raised the idea of a security pact ahead of President Trump’s visit last year to Saudi Arabia where he announced a massive arms deal, but the alliance proposal did not get off the ground there.
.Officials from other potential participants did not respond to requests for comment.
“MESA 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.
Washington, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi accuse Iran of destabilizing the region, fomenting unrest in some Arab countries through proxy groups and increasingly threatening Israel.
The alliance would put emphasis on GCC heavyweight Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) working closer together with The Trump Administration on confronting Iran.
A senior Iranian official said that “under the pretext of securing stability in the Middle East, Americans and their regional allies are fomenting tension in the region.”
He said the approach would have “no result” beyond “deepening the gaps between Iran, its regional allies and the US-backed Arab countries.”
As President Trump pursues his America First” policy, the White House is eager to have US allies worldwide shoulder more of the burden in confronting regional security threats.
The UAE is ready to deploy more troops across the Middle East to counter its foes as it believes it can no longer rely on Western allies like the United States and Britain, UAE minister Anwar Gargash said Thursday.
Setting up a regional anti-missile defense shield, which the United States and Gulf countries have discussed for years without result, would be a goal for the alliance, a source familiar with the plan said, as well as training to upgrade the countries’ militaries.
Tension with Iran has increased since President Trump announced in May that the United States was pulling out of a Y 2015 international deal to limit Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Last Monday, Iran dismissed a warning from President Trump that it risked dire consequences “the likes of which few throughout history have suffered before” if it made threats against the United States.
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