Arab League Treaty Organization (ALTO)
"[The United States should] fully support, help organize and assist those regional partners create an 'Arab NATO-like' structure and framework."
"Build an Arab Army that is able to secure their regional responsibilities."
Lt.-Gen. Mike Flynn (former head), Defense Intelligence Agency, June 2015
"It [Arab NATO] is something that is very different, hasn't been discussed before. And it's actually a much bigger deal -- much more important deal in a sense [for the Middle East]"
"It would take in many, many countries and would cover a very large territory."
U.S. President Donald J. Trump
"[Iran has been deterred] because of America's angry tone ... How much longer will we be blackmailed and forced to compromise""
"If we do not change our strategy and continue to operate according to orders from officials who are stuck in the mud, our situation will deteriorate daily."
Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force
"When Trump was elected, [government officials] said that Trump was unpredictable and makes unconsidered decisions -- and that is why it is better for us [Islamic Republic of Iran] to refrain from saying anything to offend him ...."
Iranian news article, Tasnin News Agency
"These developments have given rise in Tehran to a sense that it is besieged and under an emerging existential threat, in light of the crystallization of a comprehensive U.S.-Russia-Arab [including Israel] front against the Iranian revolutionary regime."
Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
|Arab heads of state meet as King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, seen on screen, speaks, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Embattled Yemeni President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi called Shiite rebels who forced him to flee the country “stooges . The Washington Times|
Tony Blair, former prime minister of Great Britain, former UN-appointed Middle East envoy who travelled extensively to the Middle East, attempting to find some way to ameliorate the breakdown of authority in a number of Arab countries where the Arab Spring protests had brought about destabilizing conditions impacting on Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria and where Iraq and Afghanistan in particular have been battling insurgencies thanks to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The rise of the Islamic State jihadists and its spread to North Africa with Boko Haram and and al Shabaab identifying with ISIL, reflects the rise and spread of fundamentalist, violent Islamism. Yet, it is the sectarian enmity between Sunni and Shiite Islam reflected in Iraq and Syria that exemplifies the deeper core issue that is roiling the Middle East, and its most direct cause can be laid directly at the feet of the Iranian Ayatollahs carrying on the work of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
"If you had a benign regime in Iran, all of the problems in the Middle East would be resolvable", stated Tony Blair, summing up his conclusions resulting from his two former executive positions. The ambitions of the Islamic Republic of Iran to present itself as the commanding nation of the Middle East and beyond representing the Shiite branch of Islam, has led it to forging a path toward obtaining nuclear weapons. It has made common cause with North Korea in perfecting advanced ballistic missile technology along with nuclear warheads.
With an arsenal of nuclear devices, Iran would feel confident that fear would aid it immensely in convincing the Arab countries that Persian Iran should be back in commanding control of the geography as the legitimate representative of Islamic power. Iran has been strategizing for decades since the Iranian Revolution, to aspire to and succeed in presenting itself as the major regional power. That all other countries in the region are Arab and Iran is Aryan, with the exception of Israel, underscores Iran's ambition and the Arab nations' reaction.
Shiism is a minority branch of Islam, with Sunni Islam representing over 70 percent of the faithful; each considering the other to be illegitimate and themselves only reflecting the true face of Islam. Iran has been plotting its imperious rise as a hegemonic power, rousing Shiites in majority Sunni countries to defy the Sunni authority. It has dedicated itself to grooming terrorist groups like the Houthi in Yemen, and Hezbollah in Lebanon and using them as military proxies.
Iraq is now in its political orbit, as is Syria, both with majority Shiite populations. Iran meddles in Gaza, supporting Palestinian Hamas, the offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the former applauding the latter's primary purpose of existence, an ambition matched by Iran's own similar threats to annihilate the State of Israel.
The Arab League has ample reason to deprecate and to fear Iran's intentions, and should Iran acquire the nuclear weapons it has long sought to produce, a guaranteed race by other nations in the Middle East to acquire their own is certain to ensue, with predictable results; utter chaos, particularly taking into account the Byzantine politics and liaisons that take place among Arab states and non-state militias.
The new President of the United States made an unequivocal statement that his country will no longer continue to act as military policeman for other parts of the world, including its substantial investment in time, energy, funding and troops. He has stated his intention that other nations be persuaded to build up their own resistance to threats. And where his predecessor saw fit to appease Iran, this administration has warned the Republic instead against its nuclear-seeking trajectory.
The idea that an 'Arab NATO' is long overdue appeared to find approval among the Arab nations themselves. That a combined Arab Army capable of seeing to its own defense is feasible received the agreement of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Libya and Jordan. It was, in fact, Egypt's President Abdel al-Sisi two years ago who, in warning of the blight of radical jihadis threatening Middle East stability, the original idea of a military alliance across Arab states emanated.
Saudi Arabia and its allies are embroiled in Yemen where the Shiite Yemenite Houthis, supported and incited by Iran, ousted the legitimate head of government. And everywhere, branches of al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant make their presence known, usurping authority and threatening stability. Egypt is faced with the ongoing problem of the Muslim Brotherhood inciting Salafist Bedouin, al-Qaeda groups and Hamas in the Sinai, to attack Egyptian police and military.
Libya's post-Ghaddafi split into tribal warring factions with two governments and roaming, armed militias vying with Islamic State to ensure that any semblance of civil order to be established remains unachievable, leaves that country a hornet's nest of violence. Egypt is threatened by Libya's instability as well. It is long past time for the Arab League to bring itself together in a common purpose; to restore a working semblance of order out of the discord that has toppled governments and given haven to wildly brutal Islamists.
According to MEMRI, the new assertiveness in tone taken by the Trump administration in contrast to the meek compliance of the Obama administration, has led Iran to cease its provocations against American navy ships, threatening plans to sink them. When Trump "put on notice" the Republican Guard Corps after the launch of a long-range missile on January 29, it signalled no more looking the other way and a follow up launch was cancelled.
|Iran testing a 'Persian Gulf' ballistic missile in 2010 AFP/Getty|