Despite carrying on with much of his predecessor’s foreign policy agenda, President Biden’s administration has yet to bring up “Arab NATO”, the Trump-era effort to build a coalition of Middle Eastern states to “confront Iranian aggression”, terrorism and extremism, and to “promote economic growth” and energy security.
A Lebanese newspaper has published what it says is a trove of top secret documents revealing how the Trump administration’s attempt to convince its Middle Eastern partners to form a united anti-Iran alliance failed.
The leak, published by al-Akhbar, contains nine documents, including policy papers and minutes of meetings, and the newspaper hints that they may be only the first in a series of leaks of confidential documents on the Trump-led anti-Iranian initiative for the Middle East, formally known as the ‘Middle Eastern Strategic Alliance’ (MESA) and also referred to as ‘Arab NATO’.
Saudi Arabia, the documents show, appears initially to have been the initiative’s most enthusiastic supporter and tabled its own proposals for anti-Iranian regional security even before Trump became president. However, it would appear that over-elaborate hopes, and disagreements between possible alliance members eventually proved insoluble, even for Riyadh.
A Saudi confidential document dated 4 July 2019 shows Riyadh’s apparent disillusionment with the MESA concept as Washington was selling it, with the policy paper pointing out that although states…