Home/Daniel Larison/Egypt Abandons the So-Called ‘Arab NATO’

Egypt Abandons the So-Called ‘Arab NATO’

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Credit: 360b/Shutterstock

Trump lavishly praised Egyptian President Sisi as a “great president” during the latter’s visit to Washington, and Secretary Pompeo went so far as to call him a “remarkable beacon” for religious freedom. Pompeo’s claim isn’t true, and Trump’s flattery gained him nothing from the dictator. Reuters reports that Egypt had already decided to withdraw from the administration’s so-called Middle East Strategic Alliance:

Egypt has pulled out of the U.S. effort to forge an “Arab NATO” with key Arab allies, according to four sources familiar with the decision, in a blow to the Trump administration’s strategy to contain Iranian power.

The anti-Iranian alliance was a terrible, unworkable, and unnecessary idea from the start, and Egypt’s move confirms that regional clients are souring on the proposal. Trump has cultivated and sucked up to Sisi more than most other foreign leaders, and Pompeo went to Cairo to deliver his ill-considered speech on U.S. policies in the region. Sisi’s rebuff of one of the administration’s biggest initiatives is another administration failure and the latest proof that most regional states have no appetite for greater hostility towards Iran. The administration’s trademark combativeness and incompetence reportedly caused the Egyptian government to back away:

Cairo did not send a delegation to the meeting, the latest gathering held to advance the U.S.-led effort to bind Sunni Muslim Arab allies into a security, political and economic pact to counter Shi’ite Iran, the source said.

Egypt withdrew because it doubted the seriousness of the initiative, had yet to see a formal blueprint laying it out, and because of the danger that the plan would increase tensions with Iran, said an Arab source who, like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity.

The plan was intended to increase tensions with Iran, and it was fundamentally unserious all along. Egypt’s reluctance to sign on to such a project shows that the administration has very few partners that it can count on for its reckless and destructive Iran policy, and it is the latest evidence that Trump’s style of personally ingratiating himself with foreign despots doesn’t deliver any results. The U.S. and the region are all better off because of the failure of this so-called alliance.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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