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"Arab NATO" Project Doomed

"Arab NATO" Project Doomed"Arab NATO" Project Doomed

The United States' initiative purportedly designed to bring stability to the Middle East by forming an Arab alliance is doomed not only because its strategies are at odds with efforts to address regional security challenges, but also because it ignores the role of key regional stakeholders as well as major global players, a foreign policy expert said.
The effort, tentatively known as the Middle East Strategic Alliance, aims to create a new security and political alliance with the six countries of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, along with Egypt and Jordan, to confront Iran which is accused of fomenting regional turmoil.
Although setting up a collective security pact with stakeholders in the region is necessary given the rising tensions and conflicts across the Middle East and North Africa, Hossein Mousavian, a former Iranian diplomat, argues that the US scheme is not effective for at least five reasons.
In an opinion piece published in the US magazine Newsweek on Tuesday, Mousavian, who is a Middle East security and nuclear policy specialist at Princeton University, has outlined several reasons why the so-called "Arab NATO" initiative has little chance of success.

> Misguided Effort  
To begin with, a main challenge of security in the region is a sectarian conflict, which the US plan seems to more heighten than resolve by pitting "Arab and Sunni countries on the southern shore of the Persian Gulf against the Shia Iran, and perhaps Iraq with Shia majority."
Mousavian highlighted the paradoxical fact that some members of MESA provide support for militant groups that are major threats to regional security. 
He cited copious evidence of the Saudi royal family's financial support for terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and Taliban, which has continued to date, in the Syrian conflict and far beyond it.
Mousavian also stressed that no collective security project will be efficient in the absence of Iran and Iraq as two major powers in the region. 
Egypt and Jordan, which are included in the Arab NATO instead, have zero geographic share of the Persian Gulf.
Not only does the plan ignore regional players, but it also omits the interests of other world powers in the region, namely the European Union, China, India and Russia. 
Mousavian described the US move as "a push for unilateralism as opposed to multilateralism in the Middle East", which would only hamper the formation of a realistic and workable collective pact.
The Arab world is more divided than ever at present, with Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini boycott of Qatar and inter-Arab conflicts in Yemen and Libya ravaging the community.
Following a late September meeting between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with foreign ministers from (P)GCC countries, Egypt and Jordan to advance the project, Qatar also emphasized that the crisis among Persian Gulf countries must be resolved first before any push to form a new security structure.
Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told a news conference afterwards that the alliance should be built on existing institutions, and he asked how that could be done when the most powerful Persian Gulf countries have been engaged in a more than a yearlong dispute.
"The real challenge facing the US-led alliance is to solve the [Persian] Gulf crisis," he was quoted as saying by AP.

> Non-Starter 
In addition, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar also prefer to keep a balance in relations with Washington and Tehran rather than lean toward one side.
Therefore, "a proposal as such to align these countries seems more like wishful thinking than a practical political strategy" he states in his article.
Mousavian concluded that without simultaneous multilateral approaches and bilateral talks, an imported collective security project such as the "Arab NATO" has almost no chance of success.
"It will only fuel animosity between the countries of the region along racial and sectarian lines," he concluded.

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