A NATO for the Middle East

The US wants to build a new bloc, a "Middle East NATO", which is composed of Arab states and Israel is also included, against Iran. In recent weeks, the US and Israel have been actively trying to form a new military alliance between Israel and some Arab countries. King of Jordan II. Abdullah announced on US television a few days ago that he would be "one of the first to support the Middle East NATO".

After former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018, the Washington administration began work to establish an Arab NATO. At a press conference in 2020, Trump publicly announced the new alliance with the abbreviation "NATOME" (Middle East NATO).

King Abdullah II of Jordan brought this idea to the fore again in his evaluations on the American CNBC channel on June 24. Saying that he would support the formation of a Middle East military alliance similar to NATO, Abdullah II pointed out that "the vision and mission statement should be very clear and its role should be well defined, otherwise it will confuse everyone". This is the first official statement by a senior Arab official regarding rumors circulating about the establishment of a NATO-like military alliance in the Middle East.

According to experts, the King of Jordan wants the formation of a new Middle East alliance "to narrow the sphere of influence of Iran and its allied forces in southern Syria, and to limit the drug and weapons smuggling activities that the Shiite militias in Syria have increased by taking advantage of the Russia-Ukraine War."

A NEW ALLIANCE

What King Abdullah did not openly state was that Israel would also be a part of this formation. However, the Americans were much clearer on this point.

A White House spokesperson stated that the United States "strongly supports Israel's integration with the expanded Middle East region, and this issue will be raised when the US President visits Israel."

A few days before King Abdullah's statements, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that Israel, together with some Arab countries, has created a new US-backed joint air defense network called the Middle East Air Defense Alliance (MEAD). Jordan is also expected to be a part of this joint air defense network.

Such a military alliance targeting especially Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and later Russia is not a new idea. However, more effort is being made to achieve this than in the past.

In 2006-2007, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hoped that the new Middle East she wanted to shape on behalf of the US would include a US-led military alliance. At the time, Secretary of State Rice was able to include Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan in the new pact he wanted to form, but the environment in the region at the time was not suitable for making Israel openly part of such an alliance.

CHANGING BALANCES AND TAHRAN’S RELATIONS WITH COUNTRIES IN THE REGION

Considering the statements of the King of Jordan, it is understood that the Amman administration sees Russia's presence in Syria as a "positive factor and source of stability" and the militias on the Jordanian border as a "threat to national security".

Any alliance that the US, Jordan or Israel wants to form, in this context, aims to limit Iran's activities that undermine security and stability through the Revolutionary Guards or allied forces.

The US effort to form a military alliance under different names, such as the Arab NATO or the Strategic Middle East Coalition, to break down Iran's influence in the region, did not bring result. The initiative started by King Abdullah II of Jordan does not seem to be more effective than the US initiative in terms of implementation.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recently renewed its relations with Syria, making it the first Arab country that Bashar al-Assad has visited since 2011. Being a regionally effective country, the UAE also officially announced its stance against a regional military alliance with Israel on 26 June.

The US-based The Wall Street Journal wrote that the UAE is not a party to a regional military alliance or cooperation. These statements point to the time spent by the USA in establishing a new military alliance with Israel in the face of the Iranian threat.

Statements made by Israeli officials reveal the seriousness of the Tel Aviv administration in establishing a military alliance that includes Arab and Gulf states and in which Israel will play an important role. According to the statements of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Israeli media reports, Israel is working to establish a regional defense alliance under the leadership of the United States.

Today, the US and King Abdullah are not worried that Jordan's strong US-backed security forces and the Jordanian army, supported and equipped by the US, will face a popular movement similar to that in the 1950s against the new Middle East NATO. There will be no need to overthrow any Jordanian prime minister or stage a palace coup.

Although the idea of Middle East NATO, first voiced by the United States and later by Jordan, aims to break Iran's influence in the region and fight against terrorist organizations, it remains a remote possibility due to the changing bilateral relations in the region and Iran's rapprochement with some countries.