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HomePolicyIs Trump's 'Arab NATO' What's Needed to Get Iran in Line?

Is Trump’s ‘Arab NATO’ What’s Needed to Get Iran in Line?

Earlier in the month, President Donald Trump said he was planning a summit with Arab Gulf leaders in October to discuss how to handle Iran. 

Officially called the Middle East Strategic Alliance, which has been informally referred to as “Arab NATO,” the group is made up of America’s Arab Middle East allies, including the six Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, along with Jordan and Egypt. 

“MESA will serve as a bulwark against Iranian aggression, terrorism, extremism, and will bring stability to the Middle East,” said a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council.

The summit has been tentatively set for October 12 to 13.

A few weeks ago, Trump signed an executive order that imposed new economic sanctions on Iran. The White House also said that there will be more sanctions imposed on the oil and banking industry come November.  

However, there is tension between the Gulf Cooperation Council. 

“In theory, it is a good idea because such an alliance would push back in Iran’s expansion and ambitions,” said Ahmad Majidyar, head of the Washington-based Middle East Institute’s Iran Observed project. “The problem is there are very deep divisions within the countries which would form the alliance.”

Can these countries agree to work together to counter Iran?

With the U.S., this group could form a powerful military partnership to combat threats from Iran. 

But not everyone is on board with this alliance and doesn’t trust these “allies.” 

“The chief challenges facing the Gulf States come from within, not from Iran. To begin with, none of them have political legitimacy. How can seven monarchies, typified by Saudi Arabia’s totalitarian absolute rule, plus one dictatorship [Egypt], appeal to disaffected young Arabs?” wrote Doug Bandow, a former special assistant to President Reagan in The American Spectator. “The Trump administration should move in the opposite direction, exiting what has become a conflict that is both endless and purposeless. Today even one NATO is too many.”

“Seriously, though, this proposed US-led Arab force is a contemptible joke. Most of its proposed members are deeply destabilizing, despotic regimes in the Middle East. To say this coalition’s mission will be for “countering terrorism and extremism” is absurd and an insult to intelligence. It’s like calling up arsonists to perform as a fire brigade,” said Finian Cunningham, a senior Irish political commentator to Tasnim News Agency. 

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