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Egypt to Host Joint Military Exercises in What Could Become «Arab NATO»

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Egypt will host the armed forces of five Arab nations for joint military exercises beginning Saturday, Egypt’s army announced Wednesday.

US officials have voiced hope that such military cooperation between Arab states could lead to the development of an “Arab NATO” comprised of Arab allies standing together against Iran.

A Saudi-led coalition of Arab states is already waging an aggression in Yemen, staging air strikes against Ansarullah revolutionary forces which control much of the country’s north, including the capital Sanaa.

In a statement on his Facebook page, the Egyptian military spokesman said that air, ground, naval and special forces from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan have begun arriving in Egypt for the exercises called “The Shield of the Arabs 1”, due to be held from Nov. 3-16.

Observers from Lebanon and Morocco will also attend the maneuvers, the spokesman, Colonel Tamer al-Refai said.

Refai said the exercises were part of Egypt’s efforts to enhance military cooperation with other Arab countries but declined to speculate on whether they could evolve into some sort of a military alliance.

Qatar, which is involved in a row with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, and Oman are not participating in the exercises.

The White House confirmed in July it had been working on the concept of an alliance with its regional partners for several months.

In late September, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo convened a meeting in New York with foreign ministers from Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in a bid to secure an anti-Iranian alliance.

According to a statement from the State Department the discussions were described as “productive” and “all participants agreed on the need to confront threats from Iran directed at the region and the United States.”

During the meeting the ministers discussed the need to defeat the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”] and other terror groups to bring “peace and stability” to Syria and Yemen, creating a “thriving and inclusive Iraq” as well as “stopping Iran’s malign activity in the region.”

The quiet push to form a new security and political alliance among the six Arab Gulf states, Egypt, and Jordan would see a strengthened cooperation between the countries on missile defense, military training, counter-terrorism, as well as economic and diplomatic ties, according to four sources, Reuters reported earlier this year.

The declaration of the alliance, also being referred to as the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), could come as soon as October at a Washington summit, the reports claim.

Tensions have soared since US President Donald Trump took office, withdrawing the United States from the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and slapping the Islamic Republic with heavy sanctions.

Alongside this, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain severed relations with Qatar in 2017 after accusing it of sponsoring terrorism and have urged it to curtail its diplomatic ties with Iran. Qatar however, continues to deny links to such organizations.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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