Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

A Middle East NATO

A Middle East NATO

Sunday, 26 June, 2022 - 06:15
Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Jordan’s King Abdullah II announced his support for the establishment of a NATO-like alliance in the Middle East.


He stressed that he supports the formation of a military alliance in the Middle East, similar to NATO, comprised of “like-minded countries”.


“I’d like to see more countries in the area come into that mix,” he told CNBC.


“I would be one of the first people that would endorse a Middle East NATO,” he added.


The vision of such a military alliance must be very clear, and its role should be well defined, he stressed, according to CNBC.


“The mission statement has to be very, very clear. Otherwise, it confuses everybody,” he said.


This is the first statement by a major Arab official over the possible formation of a Middle East NATO.


The question here is: Are his statements the first interpretation of the announcement of the “Deterring Enemy Forces and Enabling National Defense Act” (DEFEND Act) that was made in Washington some two weeks ago?


The Act, which was proposed by both Democrats and Republicans, calls for merging regional defenses to counter Iranian attacks. It asks that the Defense Department draft a strategy to work and coordinate with several countries.


Among these countries are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan, Israel and others.


The bill stated that the Pentagon must “identify an architecture and develop an acquisition approach for certain countries in the Middle East to implement an integrated air and missile defense capability to protect the people, infrastructure, and territory of such countries from cruise and ballistic missiles, manned and unmanned aerial systems, and rocket attacks from Iran.”


The bill also speaks of attacks carried out by extremist Iran-backed groups in the region. Another question arises: Is the bill a preemptive American step, ahead of the upcoming Jeddah summit between Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan, to pave the way for the idea of a Middle East version of NATO?


Are the Jordanian monarch’s statements a sort of open discussion over what could possibly be a strategic Saudi-Gulf alliance, even an Arab one, with the US? If so, then we are faced with a new real change to the rules of the game in the region.


King Abdullah also spoke of Iran’s role in the region.


“Nobody wants war, nobody wants conflict,” he said. But it remains to be seen whether countries in the Middle East can work toward a vision where “prosperity is the name of the game.”


We all know that there can be no prosperity as Iran seeks to acquire a nuclear weapon, continues to destroy four of our Arab countries, does not hesitate in targeting the security of the region and targets the Jordanian-Syrian border through the Hezbollah militias and others.


Therefore, a deterrence force is necessary to confront Iran’s recklessness that may lead the region to war.


If the Jordanian ruler’s statements are about the new regional defense system, then our region is headed on the right path and towards real strategic change.


Other opinion articles

Editor Picks

Multimedia