Arab NATO: A new threat after Arab Spring

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Baku, 8 August 2018 –

The US media are reporting about Washington’s plans to embark on a new project that is aimed at forming an anti-Iranian military bloc consisting of several Arab countries. The United States is reported to be planning to organize a summit of Arab states to discuss the issue. But which Muslim countries will be involved in the process is still a question. The media reports highlight a lot of unclear points in Arab countries` relationship both with each other and with Iran. Spreading such reports is quite dangerous. Certain political, ideological, diplomatic and military factors should be taken into account here and, most importantly, the possible influence of these factors on the sectarian divide. In this article, we would like to look at possible consequences of the creation of Arab NATO.

Outside influences: Geopolitical problems in the Middle East

Media reports are suggesting that the United States is going to start a new geopolitical game in the Middle East. Washington is forming a regional force against Iran, which would probably be a military bloc. Experts dubbed it Arab NATO. According to The Atlantic, the US intends to involve its close allies from among Arab countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Naturally, specifying which countries will exactly be on the list is difficult. But what is important here is the content of the media reports because the majority of the population of the Arab countries are Sunnis. This means that some forces deliberately want to fuel the sectarian tension.

Experts also emphasize that the countries supposed to be involved in the military bloc have different relationship with each other and with Iran. Egypt has taken a very cautious approach to the Iranian issue. However, many are looking for some warmth in the relationship between Cairo and Israel. Qatar enjoys good relations with Iran. This factor lies behind Saudi Arabia`s and the UAE`s harsh measures against Qatar, which at one point were supposed to even consider taking military action. So there is no logic behind the argument that Qatar wants to join Saudi Arabia and the UAE in a military bloc against Iran. Meanwhile, it is no secret that Kuwait and Oman have certain relationship with Iran.

According to media reports, the Pentagon is planning to organize a summit of the military chiefs of the aforementioned Arab countries on October 12-13. It should be noted that in diplomatic terms, Washington has taken a very tough attitude towards Iran, frequently threatening Tehran. However, Donald Trump expressed his readiness for talks with Iran. Against this background, what is the logic behind the reports of the possible creation of Arab NATO?

First of all, it should be underlined that the geopolitical situation in the Middle East remains very tense. Even the successful military operations of Bashar Assad`s army are not enough to improve situation in Syria. It seems that there is no need for a legitimate government in Syria at all. On the other hand, the tension among superpowers in the Golan Heights in this country is escalating. Russia-Israel strife is much talked about in this context. Moscow said it will deploy its military police on the Golan Heights, but Israel deemed the move inappropriate.

In Yemen, the situation remains complex as Saudi Arabia continues to fight Houthi rebels. Although careful in its approach, Egypt is also involved in this war. Qatar`s relationship with several Gulf countries still remains tense. The US is deepening sanctions on Iran and asking its ally Turkey to join. Ankara is pursuing an active policy in regard to Syria and Iraq.

All these factors point to mounting geopolitical volatility in the region. It should also be noted that economic and financial sanctions against Iran have a negative impact on the internal situation in the country. People have taken to the streets in cities across Iran to protest against socio-economic hardship. Some even demand President Hassan Rouhani to give explanation in the parliament.

Second front: A new scenario in Washington`s dangerous game

The situation in the Middle East is very volatile and can grow into a full-fledged war at any point. Can the creation of Arab NATO trigger this? If yes, what the consequences will be? Imagine that several Arab states wage a war against Iran. This will distract attention from Israel-Arab world strife to Sunni-Shia confrontation. And the interested parties will most probably continue spreading provocative reports in order to trigger the sectarian war. This might lead to a long-term conflict among Muslim countries.

Iran is naturally a powerful state. It is capable of taking military action against Arab countries. Saudi Arabia, which has recently purchased state-of-the-arts arms, cis capable of retaliating. In addition, powers that support Riyadh might provide it with new weapons. This process might drag the entire Muslim world into chaos and lead to a historic tragedy.

The system of relations in the Middle East, which emerged in the 1950s-1960s, might break geopolitically to be replaced by sectarian hostility among Muslim countries. And who this situation will benefit is as clear as day. The effect of Turkey`s long-term efforts to unite Muslim countries might diminish. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation might collapse. The chances of Muslim state`s reaching a consensus might fade away.

Arab NATO idea seems to be an unfounded and dangerous plan in military terms on the one hand, while on the other, it is a form of diplomatic and ideological pressure on Iran. Donald Trump first frightens then proposes talks. This tactic aims to serve America`s interests. This was manifested in the Korean peninsula problem. As regards Iran, the United States does not intend to split or destroy it. Washington’s main goal is to form a pro-American regime in Tehran. Will this work?

Answering this question clearly and unambiguously in the current geopolitical situation is very difficult. What should be taken into consideration is that Iran has huge diplomatic experience. Deceiving or provoking Tehran is not an easy task. Another important factor is Turkey`s supporting Iran on this issue. Although Iran faces financial and economic hardship, there are modest expectations that Tehran will make concessions to Washington. This can be a serious blow to Iran from several aspects and can even rock the foundations of its society and state.

We mean the Iranian society`s adjusting to a war paradigm in the wake of economic hardship and geopolitical threats. This might impede Iran`s development for a long time and also encourage Tehran to be more aggressive, leading to the emergence of new hotbeds of conflict in the region. For example, in order to avoid the negative effects, Iran might encourage Armenia to commit new provocations. This will naturally cause bitter consequences.

Arab NATO idea might divide the Muslim world as much as the Arab Spring did. One of its most dangerous features might lie in the deepening of sectarian confrontations, which might even lead to a war among Muslim states.

There is a crying need for a soonest possible improvement in relations among Muslim countries. They must take a common approach to global geopolitical problems. Muslim states must become part of the United Nations Security Council. Otherwise, it will become more and more difficult to maintain global peace. Superpowers' attitude towards Muslim countries is unacceptable. But are superpowers and their client states ready to take rational steps? Do they have any intention to ensure justice? Answers to these questions remain unclear.

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