05:52 GMT +324 May 2019
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    An aerial view of Tahrir Square in downtown Baghdad, Iraq

    Mideast States Join Iraq Summit in Blow to US-Led 'Arab NATO' Initiative

    © AP Photo / Hadi Mizban
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    The summit marks a shift in Iraq’s foreign policy, with the country assuming the role of a mediator in the region as US President Donald Trump has revived the Obama-era concept of an anti-Iranian alliance of Gulf nations.

    Iraq is hosting a one-day summit, which brings together the country’s neighbours: Syria, Turkey, Jordan, and Kuwait, as well as two long-time rivals – Saudi Arabia and Iran – in a blow to the US-led “Arab NATO” initiative, Press TV reported.

    “This is a positive message to all neighbouring countries and the world that Iraq is determined to regain its health and return to its Arab, regional environment and assume its rightful place in the map of the balance of power”, Bashir Haddad, deputy parliamentary speaker said.

    The development comes as US President Donald Trump breathed new life into the Obama-era initiative, “Middle East Strategic Alliance”, commonly referred to as “Arab NATO”, to forge an anti-Iran alliance of Gulf nations.

    In 2017, the Trump administration suggested creating an alliance to stop what the US called Tehran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East.

    The plan, first proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2017, was promoted by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who even met with Qatari officials last year in a bid to deescalate tensions between Doha and Riyadh to push the idea forward.

    Aside from the US and Saudi Arabia, the so-called Middle East Strategic Alliance would hypothetically include the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt to counter Iran, deepen defence relations, energy cooperation and deal with regional threats.  However, Egypt reportedly dealt the first blow to the proposal last week, having withdrawn from the initiative over concerns of damaging relations with Iran.

    Tags:
    plan, initiative, concept, Persian Gulf, alliance, 'Arab NATO', summit, Barack Obama, Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump, Iran, Syria, Egypt, United States, Saudi Arabia, Iraq
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