Just as the United States is about to reveal its self-denominated "Deal of the Century" plan for the Middle East, Egypt has announced - on April 14, 2019 - that it will not participate in the «Strategic Alliance of the Middle East», or the «Arab NATO». As the country with the Arab world’s largest army, Egypt’s withdrawal seriously undermines the entire project.

Egypt considers that it does not have any common strategic objective with the other States which could form the alliance, nor does it believe that there are reasons to justify the Egyptian army being placed under the orders of Saudi Arabia.

The participation of Qatar and the Sultanate of Oman was already unlikely.

The plan to form a military alliance - which in reality would be Israeli-Arab - was formulated for the first time by US President Barack Obama in his National Security Strategy, made public on February 6, 2015.

The Arab League picked up on the project - without mentioning Israeli participation - during its summit in Sharm el-Sheik on 1 April 2015, calling it "the Arab Common Defence Force". On March 20, 2018, President Donald Trump imposed substantial increases in US weapons purchases on Saudi Arabia and mentioned the possible creation of an "Arab NATO" under Saudi Arabian command. During a speech at the American University in Cairo on January 10, 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the US was pushing ahead with the realization of the plan.

The "Arab NATO" project was presented to public opinion as an alliance against Iranian expansionism. But in practice it would be an Israeli-Sunni alliance against the Shiites and, according to an American document revealed by Reuters, the ultimate goal would be to prevent the influence of Russia and China in the Middle East.

In any case, the informal name "Arab NATO" indicates that the chain of command would really be headed by the Pentagon, with Israel secretly playing the role occupied by the United Kingdom under the Baghdad Pact during the Cold War. The supposedly Arab military alliance would be limited to operational coordination between national armies without common engagement in military initiatives. Above all, it would serve to guarantee the compatibility of the armaments of the countries involved ... in practice, ensuring the purchases of US weapons.

President Trump believes that creating jobs in the United States is more important than continuing to wage wars in the Middle East and that the so-called "Arab NATO" would represent a fabulous market for the US military industry.

In November 2018, joint military exercises code-named “Arab Shield 1” seemed to be laying the foundations for the proposed military alliance. The armies of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Kuwait participated in the war games, while the Lebanese and Moroccan military attended as observers.

Artemis Pittas