US begins talks with Arab officials over NATO-style regional alliance
US begins talks with Arab officials over NATO-style regional alliance: US State Secretary Mike Pompeo met with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, and Qatar in New York on Friday to further discussions on the creation of a NATO-style Arab military alliance to promote regional security. Talks on the establishment of the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), which would combine forces from all eight countries, were “productive” and are set to continue over the coming period, the State Department said in a press release. Little was added in the way of detail, apart from the fact that “all participants agreed on the need to confront threats from Iran directed at the region and the United States.” Sources had said in July that US President Donald Trump was planning an October summit to discuss the MESA with Arab leaders. US Deputy Assistant State Secretary for Persian Gulf Affairs Tim Lenderking has been on a tour of the region trying to win support for the alliance, according to PressTV.
Resolving the dispute between Doha and its neighbors is a necessary prerequisite to the MESA’s establishment, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said, the Associated Press reports. He said that the situation was still at a deadlock. Egypt had joined Saudi, Bahrain, and the UAE in boycotting Qatar in mid-2017, demanding that the statelet sever ties with Iran, stop funding known terrorist organizations, and shut down news network Al Jazeera.