Wednesday, 08 March, 2017

Will the GCC accept Israeli proposed NATO-like alliance against Iran?


By Vahid Jafarian, Editorial Board Member

Israel’s defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called on GCC countries to form a new NATO-like alliance against Iran, however it is not clear whether the Persian Gulf states will accept the anti-Iran alliance.

In an interview with German daily Die Welt, Lieberman said: “The time has come openly to organize a formal Union, a coalition of all the ‘moderate’ forces in the Middle East against terror. Moderate Sunni States understand that the greatest danger to them is not Israel, not Zionism, but Iran,”

“This coalition needs to be a real commitment. Look at NATO. The basis of the Alliance lies in the principle that each country is ready both to ‘defend’ and to accept protection from other countries,” Lieberman added.

On his last visit to the United States, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out that both his country and ‘moderate Arab states’ have one mutual enemy; which is Iran.

The proposal to form an Israeli-GCC alliance to combat Iran come as Tehran has recently intensified the efforts to correct relationships with its Persian Gulf neighbors.

In February, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani undertook a tour of Oman and Kuwait, where he had a brief meeting with Sultan Qaboos of Oman and Kuwait’s Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah.

The trip marked the shared will of two Arab states of the Persian Gulf – Oman and Kuwait – to develop ties with Iran as an influential country in the region.

The trip came also amid reports that Trump administration was encouraging Arab states to join Israel in an anti-Iran alliance.

Last month, unconfirmed reports suggested that United States President Donald Trump was negotiating with several Arab countries in the Middle East to create a military alliance that would be aimed at countering Iran’s influence in the region. The bloc, if established, would have a collective defense clause, resembling NATO’s Article 5. It would also share intelligence with Israel, although the latter would not be a formal part of the envisaged military coalition.

The news was met with skepticism, with many analysts saying that Israel was behind the rumors, Vzglyad newspaper  asserted.

“Perhaps, Tel Aviv was hoping that Washington will come up with such an initiative, but it did not happen, prompting Lieberman to openly urge Arab countries to create their very own NATO,” the newspaper said.

At the same time, some analysts believe that Arab countries will not be happy with an anti-Iran alliance comprising Saudi Arabia and Israel.

“It would be better if the proposal was voiced by the United States. In recent years, rumors have surfaced that Saudi Arabia has been increasingly in touch with Israel with regard to Iran. However, it is unlikely that Riyadh will agree to an open alliance with Israel since it could lose its position of the leader of the Arab world and the entire Muslim world”, Konstantin Dudarev, an expert on the Middle East, told Vzglyad.

Meanwhile, Tofiq Abbasov, a Russian expert on Iran, said that an anti-Iranian alliance would have an adverse effect on the security situation in the Middle East and create additional troubles for Russia’s relations with the region.

“Iran is a real and lucrative economic partner for Russia. At the same time, working relations with the Jewish state are also important to Moscow. In addition, Saudi Arabia is also trying to court the Kremlin,” the analyst said.

This is why if such an alliance is established, Moscow will have to use all its diplomatic power to prevent a conflict from erupting, he added.

Sputnik news contributed to this report


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