Can ARAB NATO – The Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) Counter Iran?

Is the US President Donald Trump planning to create “Arab NATO” or The Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) to keep a tab on Iran? According to the Iranian Media, Washington is silently looking to build a NATO-like security and political alliance between various Arab nations to confront Iran. But what is the biggest hindrance to the Arab NATO or Project MESA? 

Prior to Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, reports suggested that President Trump was anticipated to lay out his fantasy for an “Arab NATO,” military alliance comprising of six Persian Gulf Arab countries, and Egypt and Jordan.

The US would play an organizing and supporting role while remaining outside the anti-Iran coalition, the reports added. On Saturday, American and Arab officials said that the Trump administration expected to discuss the Arab NATO plan at a summit scheduled in Washington, sometime in October.

The White House also confirmed that it was working on the project, tentatively called the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA).  “MESA will serve as a defence against Iran,” according to a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council. Furthermore, sources from some of the Arab nations included in the proposed coalition confirmed the plan to develop the “Arab NATO” project.

Hindrance to Arab NATO Project?

One of the biggest hurdles to project Arab NATO is the diplomatic tussle between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. One of the sources said the US administration was very anxious about the rift with Qatar, which could jeopardize the Arab NATO Plan.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE imposed a land, naval and air blockade on Qatar, blaming Doha of supporting terrorism, an allegation vehemently rejected by Doha. The Saudi-led bloc presented Qatar with a list of demands and gave it an ultimatum to comply with them or face consequences. Doha, however, declined to meet the demands and emphasised that it would not surrender its foreign policy.

The notion of an “Arab NATO” is now “falling apart,” he stated, adding that Riyadh’s intention was actually a “regime change in Qatar”. “Of course, the Saudis may lack the capability to force regime change, but that is what they want and it’s very dangerous,” he concluded.

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