Arab ‘NATO’

تم نشره في Sun 1 March / Mar 2015. 11:16 AM

By Fahed Khitan

The Egyptians have an integrated vision to form a joint Arab force to counter terrorist threats, an “Arab NATO”. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi discussed the proposal with King Abdullah II during a meeting between the two leaders in Cairo last Thursday, and will discussed with the Saudi monarch in Riyadh today, while the Arab League Secretary General Nabil el-Araby will explain it to Gulf and Arab leaders during his trip this week.

The Egyptian vision includes the formulation of a military force founded main on Egyptian forces, with additional “symbolic” participation from Arab countries, based in Cairo. Its mission is to intervene to protect the participating countries in the event of internal or external threats.

President al-Sisi spoke explicitly about this proposal several times, after the recent developments in Libya, and the death of 21 Egyptians slaughtered at the hands of Islamic State. In the statement, which followed the summit, there is a quick reference for the two countries consensus on forming a joint working group to coordinate military cooperation.

The King was in Riyadh, a day before his visit to Cairo, and a few days before received the Emir of Kuwait in Amman. The main point on the agenda of meetings is how to address the threat of terrorist groups, which lays siege to all the countries of the region, and threatens their stability.

The Egyptian hope for the formulation of the Arab force through a resolution by the Arab League during its summit scheduled this month. However, there are significant obstacles to achieve Arab consensus on the Egyptian proposal. For that, analysts say it is likely to announce the formation of a joint military council outside the umbrella of the Arab League, and by “those who attended” as said by an Egyptian military expert.

Egypt faces the risk of terrorist groups in the Sinai, and on its border with Libya, where Islamic State took over some cities. The danger for Jordan and Gulf countries comes from Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where Islamic State is sprawled in all directions.

The objectives of the Egyptian proposal are mysterious; if Cairo was the center of its military power, and its main strength is the Egyptian army, it means that the joint Arab force would be on Egypt’s side first and foremost.

Jordan, which supports the Egyptian vision, did not disclose its vision of the role of such a force, and the scope of work, and the size of its participation in it. On the Gulf level, Saudi Arabia did not say anything yet, as well as the United Arab Emirates, and the position of the two countries will be critical to the Egyptian proposal. Without the support of the Gulf, the Egyptian proposal will not see the light.

The experiences of military alliances, Arab and international against terrorist groups, prove that without the political plans for the settlement of conflicts in the countries where the extremist organizations nest, the military solutions will remain unable to achieve the desired goals.

In Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and even Egypt, one cannot triumph over terrorism by air strikes. There is a need to adopt a political approach and to impose on reality by force if necessary.

Where does Jordan stand of the Egyptian proposal, and what are the limits of the Jordanian participation in the proposed force?

@fahed_khitan

 

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic edition

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