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Arab Army / Arab NATO / Islamic Army

*  Sinan Tavukcu

The desire and need of the Arab states to act jointly under a common umbrella resulted in the establishment of the Arab League / Arab Union established by Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in 1945. The Union eventually became a regional co-operation organization with 22 members with the acceptance of new members (Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Djibouti, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Comoros, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Oman and Yemen).

This organization, which has been unable to achieve almost any political goal since 1945, was unable to  prevent the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, failed to protect the rights of the Palestinians nor was it able to form a military alliance against the common enemy in the wars of 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 when the armies of the Arab countries and the Israeli army collided and lost.

Arab League members joined the Islam Conference Organization (current name is Islam Cooperation Organization) was established in 1969 in response to the burning of the Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem under Israeli occupation to protect the rights and interests of the Muslim states and to develop Islamic solidarity among the member states.

During the Cold War period, Arab countries were swept between two blocks. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf Emirates in the western block in the two-block period will always be the first members to come to mind in terms of Arab NATO, which has been prominent on the current agenda.

The idea of establishing a strong joint army for the Arab peoples whose pride had been injured by the defeats against Israel has always generated excitement. However, a successful example could not be achieved until today. The military monarchies or elected dictators were not able to create a military alliance that was appropriate for the desires of the people, because their perception of the enemy and the benefits to be protected differed and were even opposite.

In time, the common enemy, Israel, which caused the establishment of the Islam Conference Organization gradually became friendly and allies with some of the Arab states and for some of the other Arab states after the 1979 Revolution was replaced by Iran as a new enemy with its prominent sectarian identity. In addition to Iran, organizations such as Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, al-Qaeda and İŞİD have also emerged as internal threats to members of the Arab League.

After Donald Trump was elected president, the US government, adopting the slogan "America First", turned its strategy into pulling troops out of conflict zones and filling the gap with a common military force comprised of its allies in the conflict zone. While seeking to withdraw troops from Syria and the Middle East, the US intends to establish an Arab Army that will not jeopardize Israel's security.

While this strategy of the United States is being discussed, most often incorrectly, the concepts of Arab Army, Arab NATO, Islam Army seem to be used interchangeably. The search for military alliances named by these titles in our article will be handled in the course of history and the possibility of an Arab NATO will be evaluated.

Peninsula Shield Forces

The "Peninsula Shield Force" (PSF) formed by other Gulf Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman) except Iraq is considered as the first example of the Arab Army.

Established in 1984 against the threats to the region, this military headquarters is located in the Hafr Al-Batin area of Saudi Arabia near the Kuwait and Iraqi borders. The army established with 5000 soldiers has now reached the size of two brigades totaling 40,000 troops.

According to the states that have established the Peninsula Shield Forces, Iran is the main destabilizing power in the Middle East. The claims of Iran over the Great Tunb and the Little Tunb islands near the Strait of Hormuz  and Abu Musa Island at the entrance of the Hormuz Strait is a source of anxiety to all the Gulf countries. On the other hand, for the Gulf Arab countries with a significant Shiite population, this population structure has always been viewed as an internal threat that can always be provoked by Iran. Another important internal threat to the Gulf states is the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood movement, which illegalizes monarchies in the Gulf.  

The Peninsula Shield Forces have been set up to combat the external and internal threats in the Gulf states that we have listed.

However, the Peninsula Shield Forces were unable to fulfill the task of ensuring the expected security in the 1st Gulf War (1991) and the 2nd Gulf War (2003), and were ineffective in 1990 when Saddam’s Iraq invaded Kuwait. This force failed to play an important role in suppressing the Shiite uprising that took place in Bahrain in 2011. The Bahrain intervention was carried out according to the principle of "the attack on one member is deemed to have been against all members" in the Joint Defense Agreement signed by the members in 2000.

The idea of establishing a “Joint Arab Force /Arab Army”

The idea of establishing an army representing all Arabs, other than the Peninsula Shield Forces established by the Gulf Arab countries, was manifested on March 9, 2015 at the Arab League's 143th Foreign Ministers Meeting in Cairo, Egypt's capital city.

The idea of establishing a 'Joint Arab Force' brought to the agenda by Egypt was discussed at the meeting. This army structure, to which all Arab League member states could participate, was based on volunteerism. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi spoke at the opening of the meeting, demanding the establishment of a joint security military force and said it was time to manifest the joint Arab attitude to be exhibited against various challenges. Arabi cited the task of the joint security military force which he proposed to be formed as "immediate intervention to combat terrorist and terrorist organization activities, support for peacekeeping work, cooperation in humanitarian activities and mutual information exchange between Arab countries as well as humanitarian activities and ensuring the security of civilians".

Countries participating in the meeting agreed to form a 'Joint Arab Force' and a call was made to the commanders of the armed forces of the Arab countries to get together within a month to negotiate this issue.

“Decisive Storm” operation

17 days after the meeting of the Arab League Foreign Ministers (26 March) in which the idea of establishing a Joint Arab Force was accepted, the Arab military coalition in the leadership of Saudi Arabia launched the "Decisive Storm Operation against the Shiite Houthi Ansarullah Movement and troops affiliated with ousted leader Ali Abdullah Salih in Yemen. The aim of the operation was to halt the progress of the Iran-backed Houthi, who had captured the capital Sana, Taiz and Aden, and to support the Yemeni President Hadi ousted by the Houthi.

The military coalition consisted of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco and Senegal. The operation was, in a sense, a field test of the actual 'Joint Arab Force'. The (KIK) member Oman did not participate in the operation. The United States promised intelligence and logistical support to the coalition. Egypt, the master mind of the 'Joint Arab Force' was far from delivering the expected military contribution to this still continuing operation.

Proposal to establish a "Joint Arab Force"

The 26th Arab League Summit in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh was convened three days after Decisive Storm Operation (29 March). At the summit with the proposal of the Egyptian President Abdulhuttah Sisi a decision to establish a joint Arab army was taken.

According to the plan, the army would be established with 40,000 troops supported by warplanes, war ships and light armored vehicles. It was envisaged that the Joint Arab Force would have two headquarters. One of the headquarters was the capital of Cairo, which would carry the weight of the military force and the other was the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, which would finance the army. In the plan the Joint Arab Force was supposed to be financed by the Gulf countries. The system would operate on a voluntary basis and the Arab states would have the right to decide whether or not they would join any task.

The general staffs of the Arab League countries that were in favor of the idea of an Arab Army (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, BAE, Qatar, Kuwait) gathered at the Arab League Headquarters in Cairo, Egypt  on 21-22 April to discuss issues related to the implementation of the decision of the establishment of the Joint Arab Force at the last Arab League summit in Sharm al-Sheikh.

Speaking at the meeting, Nabil al-Arabi, Secretary General of the Arab League, said that the force to be formed did not mean establishing an army for a new military alliance or against any other country, that it meant making the Arab League Foundation Agreement operative. Arabi said this force would open up areas for the Arab countries to act together to combat terrorism and called on the chiefs of general staff of the member states to establish the necessary mechanisms for the implementation of the resolution.

An infrastructure working group was established at the meeting to deal with the establishment of the military alliance, its tasks and financing.

A month later, on May 24, 2015, the Chiefs of General Staff met for the second time and drafted a protocol for the establishment of a military alliance to be presented to the defense ministers of the countries.

Pakistan does not allow the anti-Houthi coalition to become a Sunni army

Saudi Arabia demanded  that Pakistan join the coalition for the success of the "Decisive Storm Operation" and contribute to the military action with ships, planes and troops. This would provide strong war support for the operation by the Pakistani army and increase the legitimacy of the war with the inclusion of a non-Arab Islamic country in the coalition.

However, the Pakistani parliament considered that the coalition would become a Sunni army in the event of Pakistan's participation and the war would turn into a sect war and decided unanimously against participation  in the operation on April 10, 2015. The decision indicated that Pakistan would give necessary support to protect the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia while an urgent ceasefire call was made to the parties in Yemen. Saudi Arabia, which has always supported Pakistan financially was greatly disappointed.

While the subject was being discussed in the Pakistani Parliament, the consultations and suggestions made by Prime Minister Nevaz Sharif in Ankara were effective in the resolution of the  Pakistani Parliament to decline. Iran's diplomatic initiatives toward Pakistan also played an important role in the rejection. On the other hand, if a decision to participate in the war coalition against the Houthi had been taken, Pakistan with a 25 to 30 million Shiite population in the total population of 182 million would have run the risk of being dragged into a civil war.  

Arab NATO initiative

As the Decisive operation continued, the Barack Obama administration held a meeting in Camp David on May 15, 2015 with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states. At the meeting, the US side stated that it would support a military formation called the "Arab NATO". The Arab NATO referred by the US was a military alliance of Arab states, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, BAE, Qatar and Kuwait.

Since 2012, the Gulf States have been uncomfortable with the 5 + 1 countries and Iran's efforts to reach a consensus on the nuclear issue. Having entrusted their security to the US military bases, the Gulf States feel that they have lost their protective umbrella and have been feeling insecure since 2001, considering that Iran has increased its military and political influence in Arab countries without any obstruction. With its "Arab NATO" plan, the US wanted to show the Sunni Gulf Arab countries that the security of their countries was not jeopardized and that they intended to support the Arab countries in the event that a military alliance was established.

For some time now the Gulf countries have started to believe that the US has abandoned the Middle East to the control of Iran. Events also support this. These concerns have been triggered by the fact that after the US occupation of Afghanistan in 2001, Iran and the Shiite who assisted the occupation, became active in state administration, Shiite domination was ensured in 2003 in Iraq after being occupied by US and Coalition forces  and when the US troops left Iraq in December 2011 the administration was left to  pro-Iranian Nuri al-Maliki and Iran became more powerful in Iraq.

US-Iranian cooperation was not clandestine. When former Iranian President Hashimi Rafsanjani gave a sermon in 2002 on a Friday prayer in Teheran, he manifested this cooperation by saying, "Americans should know that they would not be able to overthrow the Taliban regime if it was not for the Iranian army ... Iranian forces killed the Taliban and facilitated their collapse. If our forces had not fought against the Taliban, the Americans would have perished in the quicksand of Afghanistan. Again, former Iranian President Ahmadinejad said in a television speech; "We helped America in Afghanistan, then we helped them in Iraq. Despite this, Bush arrogantly accused us of being the viper’s nest of evil, " confirming Rafsanjani's words. In a speech on 15 January 2004 Iran's former deputy president Muhammad Ali Abtahi said, "Without Iran’s support  Kabul and Baghdad would not have fallen so easily," and confirmed the cooperation.

It seems that the US has paved the way for Iran to increase its power in the region and kindled the ambition to establish a Great Iran within the borders of the Persian Empire during the era of Darius the Great. The US did not oppose Iran's settlement in Syria on the grounds that they were fighting terrorism and also turned a blind eye to gathering Shiite militias by the Revolutionary Guard from various countries to fight against the Sunnis in Syria. Finally, it seemed that Iran was rapidly moving towards the goal of becoming the sole ruler of the region when the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Army trained the Shiite Houthi rebels, equipped them and instigated them to seize the power in Yemen. Teheran deputy Ali Riza Zakai declared the target of Iran in a speech in 2014 by saying: "Three Arab countries (he refers to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon) are now in Iran's hands and devoted to the Islamic revolution. Sana’a has become the fourth Arab capital to join the Iranian revolution. 

During and after the Camp David meeting, there was some information on the alliance, called the Arab NATO, which was planned to be called the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), that discussions had continued for several months with the countries in the region. An official from the White House stated that MESA was "planned to be a shield against Iran's aggressiveness, terrorism, radicalism and bring stability to the Middle East".

Having opened the way for Iran's Shiite expansion, the United States was now planning to form a Sunni Arab Army that would rein in the Shiite expansion and clash with it. Thus, while Muslims in the region were strangling each other, Israel would be removed as being the enemy and the American weapons industry would sell plenty of weapons ...

Indeed, in March 2017, in an interview with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman with Die Welt where he says, "It is time to establish a coalition against terrorism with all the moderate forces in the Middle East. America is also talking about the establishment of such a coalition. It has been understood by moderate Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia that the greatest threat for them is Iran, not Israel or Zionism and Judaism. It does not matter whether our partners are Muslims, Jews or Christians in this plan. I think that for the lives of the moderate Arab countries, they need Israel more than Israel needs  these countries" manifests this plan.

Two months after the Camp David meeting, on July 14, 2015, a deal was signed to restrict the nuclear program between Iran and the 5 + 1 countries (permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely US, Russia, China, Britain, France & Germany). With this deal, Iran regained the opportunity to sell oil to international markets, gain access to frozen assets worth about $ 100 billion abroad and use the global financial system for international trade. Iran, which had increased its influence in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen with armed forces believed that it had been accepted by other countries with this deal as well. Until US President Trump announced on 8 May 2018 that the US was pulling out of the nuclear program's restriction agreement and re-initiating the sanctions against Iran ...

Iran, which set off to realize the Shiite crescent, has supported the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq by non-Muslim forces, has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of Muslims by fighting personally in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Nowadays, however, it has transformed into a target in street demonstrations as an unwanted power in these countries. The sectarian policy based on force has gone bankrupt.

Despite all these transgressions and faults of Iran, some Islamic countries led by Turkey, Pakistan and Qatar by virtue of, "two wrongs does not make a right " have endeavored to abandon sectarian policies and establish smooth relations with Iran and involve them in the Muslim alliance. In the Second World War, European Christians murdered each other, yet showed the success of establishing a European Union despite the tens of millions dead.

The Islam Army

At the time of the negotiations between the US and the Gulf Arab states and Egypt to establish an Arab NATO, the Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia and then 2nd Crown Prince Muhammad bin Selman announced on 15 December 2015 that the Islamic Alliance Army (Islamic Alliance Against Terrorism ) had been established. In the prince's statement, "Islamic countries are fighting individually to combat terrorism. The Islamic Alliance Army has been established to combine this power with the approval of 34 countries to effectively combat all terrorist organizations."

Preparatory work had been kept rather secret until the proclamation of the Islamic Alliance Army. Until then, only media reports of the establishment of a joint intelligence organization of Islamic countries and its term presidency being executed by former MIT Undersecretary Emre Taner had been portrayed in the media. At a time when Arab NATO and a Joint Arab Army were being discussed, the proclamation of the Islamic Alliance Army greeted with astonishment by the world public.

The 34 countries which comprised the Islamic Alliance Army and would subsequently total 41 members at that time were Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Qatar, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Senegal, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Benin , Djibouti, Sudan, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Gabon, Guinea, Palestine, Comoros Islands, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Yemen.

The objective of the Islamic Alliance Army was determined as fighting terrorist organizations in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Afghanistan and providing military support to these countries and when necessary, to cooperate against terrorist organizations in the form of joint operations. The statement again proclaimed among the objectives of the alliance "to protect Islamic societies from all evil, regardless of sect".

Approximately 2.5 months after the declaration of the Islamic Army on December 15, 2015, Islamic Army exercises were carried out by 26 Islamic countries, including 200,000 soldiers, 100 aircraft and hundreds of land vehicles. The exercise called Ra'du'ş Shimal (Northern Thunder), which started at the end of February and lasted for three weeks, took place in Hafr el-Batin in the northern part of Saudi Arabia. The number of troops involved as well as the size of the exercise zone made it the largest military exercise ever carried out in the Middle East. The banner hanging at the entrance of the drill field wrote, "If you ask what this army is, it is the Muhammad army". The inscription ‘Hasbinallah’ (Allah is all we need) below the word 'Allah' was noted in the crescent-shaped insignia of the tailor made military outfits. Turkish troops also participated in the exercises in which Turkey was officially represented by the Minister for National Defense Ismet Yılmaz.

The member states gathered in Riyadh in March 2016 for a preparatory meeting for the organizational structure of the alliance. It was also reported that the number of member states increased to 39 from 34.

According to the reached concurrence, membership of the Islamic Alliance Army was voluntary. Member states would exchange information in the field of intelligence and no military intervention would be made without a request from the relevant country. In the country where the operation is organized, the command would be with the host country and these operations would be carried out according to international conventions.

 The Islamic Alliance Army was structured on a basic structure comprised of four elements, namely

  1. Press,
  2. Finance,
  3. Intelligence,
  4. Military organizations.

Furthermore, it was decided to allocate a center in Riyadh to coordinate the military aspects of the operations of the Alliance and to allocate a budget.

The Alliance's mechanisms would function as follows:

  - The intelligence from member countries would be gathered at the operation center and shared with other countries through a common pool.

- If one of the countries receives any threat, it would ask for help and support from the other member countries.

- The alliance is not established against a specific terrorist organization. Decisions on structures to be considered as terrorist organizations shall be left to the representatives of the member countries to serve in the coordination center.

- If a structure defined as a terrorist organization other countries but is not recognized as a terrorist organization by the country in which it is located, no sanction shall be imposed on that member state.

The establishment of an Islamic Alliance Army without drawing the attention of the world public and the inconspicuous skill in the preparation of an enormous exercise involving 200 thousand people frightened the US and NATO. Due to its NATO membership the Turkish Army had the ability to establish such a military alliance between Islamic countries and organize exercises. As mentioned in our article above, with the reality of the Arab world which had been unable to establish an Arab Army since 1945, there was no way that 41 Muslim states would converge under the leadership of Saudi Arabia. It is evident that due to Turkey's ongoing membership in the NATO alliance, Saudi Arabia has been put forward for the leadership of the Islamic Alliance and Saudi territory has been chosen as headquarters. The second major roles in the establishment of the Islamic Army feature Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Claims that loss of confidence in the United States and NATO has led Turkey to form a new alliance and prepare for a new world order by gathering the Islamic world is not without merit. The most important manifestation here is that at least 41 out of 57 Islamic countries believe in an Islamic Alliance and an attempt to establish an Islamic Army and want to be a part of it. The drill has shown that this can be accomplished. This confidence, determination and manifestation courage is a turning point for the Islamic world.

The US-NATO axis was so uncomfortable with the implementation of the Islamic Alliance and the Islamic Army that it tried to destroy the actors of this enterprise and endeavored to occupy Turkey on the 15th of July 2016 based on the chaos generation strategy of its collaborators within the army. However, the forces of New Turkey anticipating this attack demonstrated their success in defeating the occupation initiative and US-NATO. That night the whole Islamic world was up for prayer for Turkey.

On January 6, 2017, Pakistan's former Chief of General Staff Raheel Sharif was appointed as the Commander of Islamic Alliance Against Terrorism. On Friday, 13 January, the Chiefs of General Staff of the Islamic countries, including Chief of Staff Full General Hulusi Akar, attended the Chief of Staff of the Islamic Army ceremony of Raheel Sharif in Jeddah.

The foreign ministers of 41 countries participating in the Anti-Terrorist Islamic Alliance convened for the first time in Riyad, the capital of Saudi Arabia on 26 November 2017. Turkey was represented by the Minister for National Defense Nurettin Canikli.

The Qatar embargo manifested as an anti-US block in the Arab world

After being elected as the president US President Donald Trump made his first overseas visit to Saudi Arabia on May 20-22, 2017. Trump, who met with leaders of 50 Muslim countries in Riyadh, called for them to "blaze a trail in fighting radicalization."

On returning from his travels Trump tweeted as follows: "On my visit to the Middle East I said Radical Ideology should not be funded any more. The leaders pointed to Qatar – look! it is nice to see that negotiations with the King of Saudi Arabia and 50 countries are working. They said that they would take a rigid stance against the financing of radical organizations and all the arrows pointed to Qatar. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end for terrorist disaster." In which he announced that he had ordered the isolation of Qatar.  

Gulf Cooperation Council member Saudi Arabia, BAE, Bahrain and Egypt from outside the Gulf initiated a air, land and sea blockade against Qatar on June 5, 2017. The blockading countries cut off all political, diplomatic and commercial relations with Qatar. Qatar was accused of supporting Islamic movements and terrorism (Muslim Brotherhood, al-Nusra, ISIS) and maintaining good neighborly relations with Iran unlike other GCC member states.

The blockading countries issued a 13 point ultimatum to lift the sanctions, including the demand for the closure of the Turkish base in Doha. However, Qatar rejected the charges and demands. It turned out that the real reason for the embargo was to eliminate the military presence of Turkey from the Gulf as well as the Islamic Army which had been established in the de facto leadership of Turkey. To this, Turkey responded by increasing the number of Turkish troops on the military base in Doha, Qatar and Turkey. Oman, another GCC member country opposed the embargo and opened its ports to the use of Qatar. Another Gulf country Kuwait did not join the embargo and undertook the role of mediator for the resolution of the crisis. Already in the embassy crisis in 2014, Oman and Kuwait had acted together and had not withdrawn their ambassadors from Qatar. Another Arab country, Jordan sided with Qatar in the embargo incident.

Encouraged by the attitude of Turkey and Qatar, other Islamic countries (except for a few small countries) refused to participate in the embargo in spite of the pressure applied by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Whereas Trump was convinced that his instruction to embargo Qatar which he had given to the leaders of 50 Islamic countries he had gathered in Riyadh, would be fulfilled as an order." After his visit he tweeted It is great to see that the negotiations with the King of Saudi Arabia and the 50 countries are working".  However, as a result of the active policy implemented by Turkey and the Islamic countries acting together the policy initiated in the accompaniment of Trump's big show of strength failed. In the face of the failure of the plan, the United States chose to brazen it out by saying 'The Qatar crisis is an internal issue of the Arabs'.

The Qatar Embargo ended in the division of the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council into two axes. The Saudi Arabia-Bahrain-United Arab Emirates alliance supported by Egypt together with the US and Israel and the Qatar-Kuwait-Oman alliance supported by Turkey emerged. Turkey consolidated relations with Iran and Pakistan and in collaboration with other Islamic countries formed a front against the Arab NATO which was being shuffled into the limelight.

Arab NATO is on the agenda again

In a news item published in the Wall Street Journal in the US on February 15, 2017, it was alleged that some Arab countries had formed a military alliance with the Trump administration and were in contact to gain Israeli intelligence. In some commentaries, this initiative was also defined as the "Arab-Israeli NATO".

Another news item of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) dated April 17, 2018 wrote that US National Security Adviser John Bolton had met with Egyptian intelligence deputy director Abbas Kamil and that the possibility of contributing to efforts to establish an Arab force in Syria by Egypt had been addressed. According to the news, the US was planning to establish a union composed of Arabs in order to replace the forces deployed in the northern part of Syria and assist the Iraq Damascus Islamic State (IS) to regain stability in the northeastern country after the end of the war.

There are about 2,000 troops currently deployed by the US in Syria. The attempt to build an Arab power is based on the idea that the gap to be left by US troops withdrawing from the region is filled with a military power comprised of Arab countries that will not conflict with Israel. In this project, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt are evaluated as the countries that will not conflict with Israel, and the common external threat is Iran. However, despite the embargo imposed on Qatar, Qatar does not intend to be an enemy with Iran, nor does it appear to be in the same military alliance with BAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt which imposed the embargo.

On 20 April 2018, US Central Command (CENTCOM) Gen. Joseph Votel held an Arab-US military meeting with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries as well as representatives from Egypt and Jordan in Saudi Arabia's capital city, Riyadh. News items about the meeting claimed that "Arab Force" needed to be supported by the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.

It is expected that the Middle East Strategic Alliance project, MESA for short is negotiated in Washington during October 12-13.


Since 1945, when the Arab League was founded, there always existed the idea of establishing an Arab Army among the member states, however it never realized. The only exception was the Peninsula Shield Forces, established by the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1984. However, this military force has been unable to undertake its expected role in times of crisis and remained largely unsuccessful.

The Arab Army is envisaged as an army that the 22 member Arab League want to establish with their own resolve and initiatives. The idea of setting up the Arab Army, which has been mostly put on the agenda by Egypt has not gone beyond being precatory words as yet.

The Arab NATO has been designed as an anti-Iranian military organization by the United States with the anticipated inclusion of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt as the founders to share intelligence with Israel and will fill the gap that will follow the withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

The question of how the countries to comprise the Arab NATO will be brought together remains to be a question. It is not known how the Qatar-Jordan block will establish a joint army with the BAE-Saudi Arabia and the Egyptian block while the Qatar embargo and conditions are still ongoing. Therefore, it is not wrong to consider it a pipe dream.

It seems unlikely that the Arab NATO, which will be made up of Arab countries selected by the US, will be established or operable while the Islamic Alliance Army is still active and in office. Still, even if the governments were willing, it is not possible for the Arab people to consent to an Arab NATO supported by Israel, the enemy of their values. As a matter of fact, in the media news in July it was stated that a report prepared by the Israeli Homeland Security Research Center about Saudi Arabia contained information that it was predicted that there would be a coup or public uprising in Saudi Arabia due to failure in administration and that Israel's strategic interests would suffer if one of these scenarios realized. It is obvious that the Arab NATO project will collapse if there is such a development of concern to Israel.

As for the Islamic Army; The Islamic Army is an army structure with established mechanisms recognized and accepted by the 41 Islamic states. The Islamic Army, which the public learned about in the news about the exercise has proven its ability by carrying out one of the biggest exercises in the world. The Islamic Alliance and the Army covering a great geographical area and population from China to the Balkans and Africa seem to have the capacity to influence the new world order.

It is clear that it will take some time for 41 countries to believe in the success of the Islamic Alliance and the Army and be persuaded to join. This preparation process has been successfully clandestine and Islamic countries participating on the basis of volunteerism have believed in the necessity as well as the success of this alliance and the army to be established. Likewise, the preparations of the exercise including 200 thousand troops were kept confidential. In my opinion the silence of the Islamic Army after its declaration of existence on December 15 and the exercise can be explained by its principles of confidentiality or that this is their valid work concept rather than inactivity.