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MESA a new military alliance takes shape in region
September 15, 2018, 4:48 pm

The US administration is reportedly keen on reviving a security and political strategy that brings together the six nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states along with Egypt and Jordan in an alliance with the United States to counter existing and potential threats from a resurgent Iran.

The security and military coalition referred to formally as the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), and dubbed by some commentators as the Arab NATO, is expected to be announced next month at a high-level meeting in Washington.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the US accuse Iran of expansionist aims and of destabilizing the region by fomenting unrest in some Arab countries through support for proxy groups.

The US would like to see deeper cooperation between members of the new alliance and their engagement on missile defense, military training, counter-terrorism and other issues, as well as strengthening regional economic and diplomatic ties.

The new alliance is expected to see the countries involved monitoring and tackling issues arising in the region, including in the Arabian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the three waterways that link them — the Hormuz Strait, Bab Al Mandab and the Suez Canal The MESA remit will include monitoring navigation in these waters and tackling illegal smuggling of weapons that violate the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

In the north, the alliance will conduct surveillance on the military supply lines used by Iran along Jordanian border and support local forces contributing to monitoring any shipments of weapons from Iran to pro-Iranian militias in Syria and Lebanon.

Other probable tasks include the formation of a ground force that could be deployed in Syria alongside US forces in the Syrian areas east of the Euphrates as part of the anti-terrorism mission and to ensure that the Daesh terror group does not return, the sources said.

The force could also be used to help reinstate the legitimate Yemeni government in Yemeni areas after their liberation from militias and terrorist groups.

According to the sources, the discussion of the ideas has reached an advanced level and once all the details have been agreed on, a meeting will be called in Washington before mid-October so that alliance is formally announced, most likely in the presence of senior security and military leaders from the member countries.

At a time when the US is rethinking its global alliances and treaties such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the new MESA grouping could be crucial to dealing with problems posed by an allegedly expansionist Iran.

However, in what could crop up as hurdle to the smooth functioning of such an alliance, is the ongoing rift between Qatar on one side and Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the other. Qatar is allegedly being supported politically and logistically by Iran and to a certain extent by Turkey, while also hosting the largest US airbase in the region.

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