An Arab NATO – Latest News – The Nation

Today, countries sign covenants and treaties for security, political and economic purposes. World powers like the United States, Russia and China are making alliances to contain themselves. It is a game of national interest for each country, for example the United States is pressuring Arab countries and other Muslim countries to recognize Israel. In the past, the Middle East has seen treaties like the Baghdad Pact (CENTO) and SEATO. The oldest organization in the Middle East is the Arab League which was founded in 1945. The organization has 22 Arab states among its members with a population of 400 million. However, the organization failed to live up to expectations due to conflicts among its members and civil wars.
Today in the Middle East, the United States is gradually withdrawing from its role of guaranteeing the security of Arab countries. Likewise, Arab countries have now understood that they cannot rely on guarantees from the United States and the West. It is likely that the United States will not come to their rescue and aid in the event of a military confrontation with Iran, because it did not come to the aid of Ukraine. The United States and Saudi Arabia proposed a Middle East Security Alliance (MESA) in 2017 when Trump was in power. The alliance included the GCC countries, Egypt, Jordan and the United States. This was built to counter Iran without the intervention of any foreign power.
On June 24, 2022, King Abdullah of Jordan, speaking to an American channel, said he would support a Middle East alliance similar to NATO. The idea of ​​an Arab NATO has also been discussed in the past by the United States to counter Iran’s growing threat in the region. The existing defense mechanism in the Middle East is not so powerful and the Arab states believe that they need such an alliance in order not to succumb to Iranian power. The alliance is likely to cooperate on missile defense, intelligence sharing, military cooperation, counterterrorism and also in improving diplomatic and economic relations among member countries.
Let us analyze the threat Iran poses to Arab states and Israel. Israel believes Iran is trying to encircle it from Syria and Lebanon. Russia controls Syria and supports civil war with Iran and Hezbollah. Then there is Iran’s alliance with Iraq and Syria to control Lebanon. The Arabs also see Iran as a threat to their sovereignty. In Yemen, the Houthis are loyal to Iran and fight the Saudi-led coalition, and Iran also backs the pro-Iranian militias of Hamas, Islamic Jehad and Hezbollah. Arabs are also fearful of Iran becoming a nuclear power and have urged the United States not to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Arabs are also worried about Iran’s growing influence in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
The countries that would make up the Arab NATO are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and Israel. The inclusion of Israel is a message to Iran to improve its relations with its Arab neighbors and not to interfere in Arab affairs. In the past, the United States has been the primary guarantor of security. However, it seems that the responsibility has now been given to Israel to take the initiative. If one compares the military power of Iran and the proposed alliance, Iran still enjoys numerical superiority. However, with the inclusion of Israel, the proposed “Arab NATO” enjoys strategic superiority in armaments, firepower and technology.
There are also fears and concerns among potential “Arab NATO” member states about large countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia dominating the remaining smaller Arab countries. Then there is the rivalry between Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Egypt and Qatar. We recently witnessed the forced blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia. Then the question of Palestine for the majority Arabs is a serious concern because they cannot compromise on this. This is evident from the fact that Saudi Arabia has improved its ties with Israel but is reluctant to recognize Israel due to the Palestinian issue.
During President Biden’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, the issue of an “Arab NATO” was not discussed. Pakistan can mediate between the Arabs and Iran as it has repeatedly offered in the past. Peace in the region is in Pakistan’s interest and it has remained neutral due to its economic, sectarian and geopolitical realities. Pakistan must continue to play the role of bridge and peacemaker in the region.

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