IRNA – US efforts to form a coalition of Middle Eastern countries called ‘Arab NATO’ to confront the Islamic Republic of Iran failed from the very beginning due to the gulf created between the Persian Gulf states and Egypt’s opposition to the decision.
Reuters quoted four informed sources as saying that Egypt lagged behind the US strategic plan to form an alliance called the Arab NATO to curb Iran’s activities in the region.
Egypt has the largest army in the Arab world, and observers believe that the country’s withdrawing from the plan is a tough defeat for the coalition, especially Saudi Arabia. Egyptian magazine Al-Majd in this regard wrote that the withdrawal of Egypt suggests that the coalition faces serious challenges as a result of differences of opinion between the member-states regarding the identification of their common enemy. This has led to premature death for the so-called Arab NATO.
** Egypt’s departure; Crushing below to anti-Iran coalition
The Lebanese Al-Markazia News Agency in a report entitled ‘The New Arab NATO’s Failure; Is It a Crushing Blow?’ wrote that the Arab NATO, on the eve of its preparatory meeting in Riyadh on Sunday (April 14th), suffered another loss. The news leaked that Egypt which has withdrawn from Arab NATO plan, has put coalition leaders in a turbulent situation. Egypt’s withdrawal from the Arab NATO plan while member-states of this coalition are worried about Trump’s failure in the upcoming presidential elections, has made the situation more complicated. These countries are worried that the successor of Trump would put aside the Arab NATO formation in general and will ignore it in the middle of the road. This will have backfires for the members of the coalition and put them in a weaker position vis-à-vis Iran.
Egypt’s withdrawal from the coalition is due to the developments in Sudan because Egypt, unlike other Arab countries, supported the coup in Sudan, , according to Al-Markazia. Cairo’s priority is not to confront Tehran. Egypt focuses on the political developments in North Africa, especially Libya and Sudan, which can threaten the national security of Egypt. Egypt, in a situation where its backyard is witnessing dangerous military and political developments, will not endeavor in other parts of the world.
Egyptian magazine Al-Majd said in a report that Egypt’s withdrawal from the Arab NATO has revealed the situation inside the coalition and showed fragility of the coalition under the current conditions. It can be said that there is no meaning for Arab NATO without Egypt, because other Arab NATO member-states lack the necessary mechanisms, especially at the military level for coalition, and the absence of Egypt will eliminate the idea of forming an Arab NATO. At the beginning, there was a lot of enthusiasm about the formation of the Arab NATO. But as time elapsed, NATO collapsed before its formation, and there was no enthusiasm in this matter with the absence of Egypt at the meetings on the formation of Arab NATO. The responsibility and the main burden of this coalition was to be left to Egypt, and now with the withdrawal of Egypt from it, the coalition no longer has any meaning.
The Ray al- Youm newspaper wrote in an article written by Abdel Bari Atwan, ‘Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi recently slapped into the United States’ face firmly. His first slap was when he took the decision to withdraw from the Middle East Security-Economic Alliance called the Sunni Arab NATO. His second slap was his decision to buy the Su-35 fighter from Russia as the replacement of the US F-16s and F-35s.
According to the Palestinian analyst, if the withdrawal of Egypt from Arab NATO will be truly implemented it will be a courageous decision that will save Cairo from the slavery of America and the Persian Gulf states and restore its independence and dignity. Perhaps this decision will be an introduction to changing Cairo’s policies in cooperation with the occupying Israeli regime in Sinai, which many people in the Arab world to do. If this decision of the Egyptian government is accompanied by an open-minded political approach and respect for human rights and avoiding oppressive policies towards various Egyptian political organizations, it will be welcomed by many people in the region.
** Obstacles to formation of Arab NATO
According to the Arabic part of ‘Sputnik’ news agency, the mission to form a coalition in this area is not easy due to because Russia is odds with the US and some Persian Gulf states over regional issues. In this regard, the retired Lt. Col. Mahmud al-Radisat of the Jordanian army told Sputnik that the idea of forming an Arab NATO is generally unrealistic because there is no clear goal in the Arab world and among the Arab countries that they can agree on through a military alliance. On the contrary, the Arab world faces internal tensions and contradictions in interests, and each country is looking for its own interests and gains, especially on regional issues like the developments in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and the Palestinian question. Qatari government also disagrees with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, and Qatar’s foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman, said the diplomatic crisis between the Persian Gulf states has not been resolved and the US plan for coalition in the Middle East is doomed to fail.
The Jordanian analyst added, ‘The United States is working for making coalition, and we believe that the main problems need to be solved for this coalition. One cannot be besotted with a coalition whose countries are always at odds with each other. Only Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain support the US government’s passion and enthusiasm for formulating Arab NATO, but Qatar, Kuwait and Oman have good relations with Iran. Egypt and Jordan are not worried about Iran’s influence and have focused their foreign policy priorities on the Arab-Israeli tension.
In this regard, a military expert Khalil al-Halo, told the Lebanese Markazia news agency that the US strategy would not be realized. The difference between the Arab countries is an obstacle to the political alliance to be formed between these countries against Iran. The military coalition needs a similar strategy for the region and this strategy is not provided by Washington’s regional allies