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  • U.S. Navy assault ship Kearsarge and missile destroyer USS Bainbridge sail in the Arabian Sea, May 17, 2019.

    U.S. Navy assault ship Kearsarge and missile destroyer USS Bainbridge sail in the Arabian Sea, May 17, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 May 2019

The U.S. president insists on promoting a Middle-East military alliance by summoning Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin on Thursday said that the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East (SAME), known as the Arab NATO, is a dangerous proposal and will create new dividing lines in the region.

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"As for the creation of different coalitions, ad hoc coalitions or alliances, we believe that it would be extremely important, given the current situation, not to create additional dividing lines in the region, in the Near and the Middle East in particular," Vershinin said. "It is a dangerous path. We should look for something that unites us in this region."

The Strategic Alliance of the Middle East, which U.S. President Donald Trump announced as "the Deal of the Century" on April 14, is a military cooperation tool aimed at boosting an anti-Iran alliance by summoning Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.

This initiative, which was first suggested by the Arab League in 2015, has been widely promoted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton since Trump revived the idea in 2017.

So far, however, the alliance has not been successful due to discrepancies among GCC countries over Washington's stance on Iran.

While Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain defend a hard-line policy, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman want to improve relations with the Islamic Republic.

Additionally, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced in April that his country, which has the largest army in the region, will not participate in the U.S. military initiative.

In March 2018, Trump negotiated with Saudi Arabia huge purchases of U.S. weapons. On January 10, during a conference held at the Arab University in Cairo, Pompeo said that the SAME was already underway and that it would be an alliance against Iranian expansionism.

"In practice, it would be a Sunni-Jewish alliance against the Shiites ... its real objective would be to prevent Russian and Chinese influence in the region," said Antonio Abreu, a Portuguese research journalist.

"In any case, this ‘Arab’ alliance will be driven by the Pentagon. Israel would secretly play the same role performed by the U.K. in the Baghdad Pact during the Cold War," Abreu said. "The SAME would be limited to organizing national armies interoperability, but without any joint military operation. It would especially ensure the compatibility of their armaments in order to maintain those countries purchasing U.S.-manufactured weapons."

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