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The Middle East Strategic Alliance is just another marginalised initiative

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The US creation called the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) — dubbed widely as “Arab NATO” — has made no progress in the two years since it was announced. The initiative has triggered controversy from the very beginning, and it would take a miracle for it to emerge any time soon following Egypt’s withdrawal in April. As a matter of fact, given that Egypt is the country with the Arab world’s largest army, the decision to pull out has been seen by many as the final nail of its coffin.

“This was never a meaningful initiative that would have amounted to anything substantial,” commented Professor Rex Brynen from the Department of Political Science at McGill University in Montreal. “I don’t know any strategic analyst who took it seriously.”

Unfortunately, the region has a long history of dysfunctional and marginalised institutions, with earlier attempts to set up a collective security organisation such as the Baghdad Pact or the Central Treaty Organisation-CENTO. Four years ago, the idea become topical again, when the Arab League initiated the “Arab Common Defence Force”, which has never materialised.

It was in May 2017 that US President Donald Trump decided to push the MESA project forward, urging Washington’s closest Arab allies to create a regional security pact under its name. The security partnership would include GCC countries plus Jordan and Egypt, with Israel also backing the alliance. It is believed that John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Adviser, has been a key proponent of MESA.

READ: Trump is the ‘King of Israel’

According to America’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for the Middle East, Mick P Mulroy, the US sees MESA as “a holistic........

© Middle East Monitor