26, February 2019
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov questions a reported push underway by the United States to “forcefully” band together a NATO-like Arab military alliance.
Lavrov referred to the potential grouping as the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), saying US President Donald Trump’s administration “is trying to impose [the alliance] on the Persian Gulf states plus Jordan and Egypt,” Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported.
Speaking at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam on Monday, he said undertaking the effort, Washington was “overcoming very serious doubts of potential members.”
Reports emerging prior to Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in 2017 said he was about to lay out his vision for the “Arab NATO.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo toured the kingdom, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman as well as Egypt and Jordan in January. “One of key tasks of the trip is bringing closer the positions of eight countries to create MESA,” TASS said.
Washington and some of its Persian Gulf allies, most notably Riyadh, have, ever since the start of Trump’s presidency in 2016, been citing regional powerhouse Iran as a common source of “threat.”
They commonly accuse the Islamic Republic of “regional interference,” an allegation which Tehran roundly rejects. Tehran has, meanwhile, been warning the littoral states against Washington’s divisive efforts targeting regional equations.
The US already heavily arms Saudi Arabia and its allies in a Riyadh-led coalition, which has been bombing Yemen since 2015. The coalition, which accuses the impoverished country of receiving assistance from the Islamic Republic, began the invasion to restore its Riyadh-friendly former officials.
Still addressing the US’s apparent push to form the military alliance, Lavrov said the drive seeks to “reshape geopolitical landscape in a way to obstruct the natural development of events and try to contain the formation of new growth centers,” TASS added.
“I want to compare natural processes integrating countries based on their coinciding interests and artificial processes, which they try to forcefully impose on the countries to carry out a joint effort in the interests of one geopolitically oriented power,” the senior diplomat noted.
“And here Israel is also pursuing its interests around this initiative,” he said.
Tel Aviv and some of the maritime countries have been growing closer over the past years, with back-to-back reports surfacing of mutual visits and backstage agreements.
The Arab capitals have even been accused of moving towards “normalization” with the occupying regime.
Late last year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Arab countries viewed the regime as an “indispensable ally” against Iran.