Home/Daniel Larison/Good Riddance to ‘Arab NATO’

Good Riddance to ‘Arab NATO’

President Trump and his good friends the Saudis (White House photo)

In some rare good news, a terrible foreign policy proposal seems to have died a well-deserved death:

American efforts to create a new alliance of Middle East nations to counter Iran are faltering amid regional divisions, a departure of key Trump administration officials leading the project, and disagreements over the group’s mission, say U.S. and Arab officials.

The so-called Middle East Strategic Alliance, also known as the “Arab NATO,” was a lousy idea that served no American interests and would have pulled the U.S. into many new unnecessary conflicts in the region if the organization had somehow ever come into being. It was a measure of how unworkable such an alliance was that half of its would-be members wanted no part of its original main objective of hostility towards Iran. The fact that several of the states being considered for this group were busy blockading one of the others underscored how few interests they all had in common. The example of the Saudi-Emirati war on Yemen is a cautionary tale of what can happen when U.S.-backed client states choose to flex their muscles in the region, and there would have been much more of that if this alliance had ever gotten off the ground.

Like every other part of the Trump administration’s anti-Iranian “strategy,” the attempt to create an explicitly anti-Iranian security organization has flopped due to lack of interest. That lack of interest among many states in the region is significant, since it shows that only a handful of U.S. clients want to treat Iran as an enemy that needs to be contained. In the end, there was so little support for this alliance because there was no need for one.

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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