Thursday, June 30, 2022

A 'NATO' for the Middle East?

A 'NATO' for the Middle East?

Rumors of a new Middle Eastern military alliance are flying. They're significant because an "Arab NATO" may include Israel, signaling next steps in better ties between Israel and Arab neighbors. But are the rumors real?

Late last week, the king of Jordan made headlines when he told journalists that he would support a military alliance in the Middle East that was similar to NATO.

"I would be one of the first people that would endorse a Middle East NATO," King Abdullah II told US media outlet CNBC. "All of us are coming together and saying, 'How can we help each other?' … which is, I think, very unusual for the region."

Similar rumors about the creation of an "Arab NATO" also came from other quarters.

Earlier last week, Israel's defense minister, Benny Gantz, said Israel had joined a new US-led network that he called the Middle East Air Defense Alliance, or MEAD. Gantz did not specify which Arab nations might also be involved. International media outlets, including Reuters and The Associated Press, were unable to fully verify the Israeli announcement or the title.

Then at the start of this week, The Wall Street Journal reported on secret meetings held in Egypt that saw military officials from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain come together to discuss cooperating on defense.

Alliance for peace?

There are some good reasons for the creation of an "Arab NATO."

The US, a primary guarantor of security in the Middle East, has been slowly withdrawing from the region for several years now, Ahmed el-Sayed Ahmed, an expert at the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, told DW.

"Arabs are increasingly aware that their past bets on Western powers, especially the US, may not have been successful," he said. "Now there's a different approach to dealing with regional problems in order to achieve stability and improve the economy, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic and in light of [instability caused by] the Ukraine war. This attitude may best be described as the desire to have no problems in the region." 

The fact that Israel is involved is also noteworthy. Arab nations who fear aerial attack from Iran or Iranian proxies would like to share in Israel's sophisticated air defense capabilities.

Streaks of light are seen as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel.

The Israeli military say almost all missiles fired at it are intercepted by its advanced Iron Dome system

And, Ahmed suggested, "the goal may also be to integrate Israel into a military alliance in the Middle East." This would be a continuation of the improved contacts between Israel and its Arab neighbors that began with the so-called Abraham Accords in 2020, he said. The latter have led to a "normalization" of relations between Israel and some Arab nations.

What would an 'Arab NATO' look like?

Experts say any such defensive alliance is most likely to include the states that already have a relationship of some sort with Israel. That includes the signatories to the Abraham Accords — the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco — as well as Jordan and Egypt, countries that already have existing diplomatic ties with Israel.

Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait could also play a role in the alliance, and the US, widely seen as brokering such a deal, would certainly also be involved. 

Graphic showing relations in Middle East

Despite all of the conjecture though, observers advised caution, telling DW that it was unlikely that the Middle East would see the emergence of a genuine NATO-style allegiance anytime soon.

"There is a greater push towards broader regional cooperation at the moment," agreed Becca Wasser, a fellow for the defense program at CNAS, the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank. "But I still think that this idea of an 'Arab NATO' is a bridge too far."

"The idea of ​​an 'Arab NATO' has been put forward many times," the Al-Ahram Centre's Ahmed noted. "But to this day, it has never crystallized, and I think that, at least in the short term, it will not."

Many attempts, many failures

The US — a major security guarantor in the Middle East, especially among the oil-producing Gulf states — has actually encouraged this kind of defense cooperation for decades.

For example, in the 1950s, there was the Central Treaty Organization, or CENTO, formed to counter possible Soviet expansion in the region. But it was never considered particularly effective and was dissolved in 1979.

Most recently, the US government under former President Donald Trump touted a Middle East Strategic Alliance, or MESA. The US under Barack Obama also had versions of such an alliance. Current US President Joe Biden is expected to discuss this topic during his upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel

In the past, none of the plans for an "Arab NATO" were ever particularly successful. And in fact, many of the same conditions that caused them to fail still exist today.

First meeting of CENTO in 1959.

Among others, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, the UK and the US were all members of CENTO 

Logistically, there are interoperability issues — that is, different countries use different weapons systems and planes. There are fears that bigger and better-armed countries, like Saudi Arabia or Egypt, would dominate any alliance. And not every Arab country sees Iran as its greatest enemy; others, like Egypt, have varied political priorities.

The Israel-Palestine issue also continues to be a major stumbling block for Arab nations when it comes to cooperation with Israel. Saudi Arabia, for instance, has refused to establish closer ties with Israel because of this.

"The purported members [of any such alliance] still don't trust one another, and the political relations among them are rough and uncertain," Cinzia Bianco, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, who focuses on Gulf state security, told DW. And, "without Saudi-Israeli normalization it would be quite difficult to progress."

Smokes and flames rise from Saudi Aramco’s Jeddah oil depot in Saudi Arabia.

In 2019, attacks by Iran-backed groups from out of Yemen knocked out around half of all Saudi oil production

It's not just Israel either: "There are also still concerns and rivalries among many of the states in the Middle East, including between the Gulf countries," added CNAS' Wasser.

A defensive alliance like NATO would require sharing a lot of intelligence and information, Wasser pointed out. "For many of the states involved, that remains incredibly sensitive and they see it as impinging on their own sovereignty."

'Smoke and mirrors'

However, even if a genuine "Arab NATO" remains doubtful, there have been some new developments in the region.

"I think that on paper, we'll see things like greater missile defense cooperation integrated across all these different states," CNAS' Wasser argued. "But that might be a bit of smoke and mirrors — cooperation without it being true cooperation."

For example, she suggested, fresh information might be routed to the US, and the US would pass it on. "We're more likely to see a sort of hub-and-spoke system that entails bilateral cooperation with the US, but in a multilateral context," Wasser said.

NATO leaders gather for a group photo at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, June 29, 2022. .

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, was formed in 1949 and now has 30 members

The ECFR's Bianco agreed: "Discussions so far have centered around a niche topic of technical cooperation in aerial defense, things like synchronizing radars and developing a communication system to share early warning of an incoming threat," she explained. "This specific file is not one where there is too much controversy or disagreement."

As to whether this kind of cooperation might actually cause more problems if, for example, Iran saw it as a threat or thought its enemies were ganging up on it, Wasser remained optimistic.

"The intent here is largely deterrent in nature," she said. "It's intended to reassure the states of their own security in the face of attacks from Iran and its proxies. Of course," she added, "deterrence is in the eye of the beholder, so there is some small risk. But I don't think that risk is high at all because a true alliance, or a true defense pact, is unlikely to happen."

Edited by: Timothy Jones


Progressivism is 'sympathy for the Devil'

The inconsolable mother of a US Army veteran who was stabbed to death in a Harlem brawl went off on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in court Wednesday, accusing the besieged prosecutor of botching the case. 

“I don’t want to hear nothing else, Yoran,” Madeline Brame screamed at prosecutor Dafna Yoran as one of the defendants in her son’s murder case got just seven years for his role in the 2018 slaying.

“Take that restorative justice bulls–t and shove it up your asses,” Brame yelled in Manhattan Supreme Court. “Not for murder.”

The courtroom outburst came as defendant Travis Stewart got the slap-on-the-wrist prison term after pleading guilty to gang assault in a deal struck with Bragg’s office.

Brame’s son, Hason Correa, 35, a vet and married father of three was beaten and stabbed to death in 2018 after getting jumped by at least four people, including Stewart, during a scuffle in Harlem. His 66-year-old father was seriously injured in the melee.

Another defendant, Mary Saunders, served about one year in jail while the case lingered in court before she pleaded guilty to assault, also as part of a plea deal, earlier this year and got no extra jail time.

Hason Correa
Hason Correa, seen with his family, was beaten and stabbed to death in 2018. 

Her two brothers, James and Chris Saunders, remain in jail, and will both go on trial for the murder, prosecutors have said.

Prosecutors said earlier this year that it would be difficult to make a case against Stewart and Mary Saunders.

But the slain vet’s grieving mom slammed the prosecutor on the case, accusing of her sitting “with her tail between her legs” since she was assigned to it.

Brame said if the original prosecutor on the case, who has since left Bragg’s office, were still there “all four of [the defendants] would have went to trial,” predicting that “a jury would have decided they were guilty based on the video evidence and the 33 witnesses!” 

Travis Stewart
Travis Stewart appears at a bail hearing for his murder case in the death of Hason Correa. 
Steven Hirsch

She also unloaded on defense lawyer Toni Messina.

“Bulls–t! Bulls–t! Bulls–t!” Brame yelled in court. “Take your restorative progressive justice bulls–t and shove it up your ass, Messina!”

Bragg’s office pointed out that James and Chris Saunders would still go on trial when asked for comment.

Prosecutors have said that while the 34-year-old Stewart had been involved in the fight, he wasn’t part of the brawl when James Saunders allegedly took out a knife and stabbed Correa nine times.

Yoran also said during Mary Saunders’ hearing earlier this year that prosecutors “do not believe that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mary Saunders knew that her brother had a knife, or that she shared the intent to kill Hason Correa.” 

Alvin Bragg
Bragg has received flack for his soft-on-crime policies since he took office. 
Gabriella Bass

In a scathing letter to Bragg and Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier this month, Brame slammed the DA for not consulting her before cutting the plea deals with Stewart and Mary Saunders.

“You violated my rights as a crime victim to be fully informed and to be heard,” the grieving mother wrote. “Why would you dismiss murder charges against half of the participants when the murder and their roles were caught on video?”

In court Wednesday, Brame’s pain continued to surge to the surface.

“In the four years that I sat through this I never missed a court date,” she said. “I never once saw one ounce of remorse from Mr. Stewart. I saw smiles, waving, blowing kisses like he’s a rock star. Not one drop!

He took everything from us when he took my son. He took my grandchildren’s father.”

Paying off the grievance community


Too focused on guns and not enough on criminal responsibilities

Another shocking random killing in Manhattan, and Eric Adams blames the gun

In New York, there's a lot of horror at a seemingly random killing of a 20-year-old woman pushing a baby stroller with her three-month-old infant on an Upper East Side street.

According to CBS News:

A 20-year-old woman died after being shot in the head while pushing her 3-month-old in a stroller in Manhattan's Upper East Side Wednesday night. The toddler [sic] wasn't injured. 

The victim was rushed to a hospital and pronounced dead about an hour later, Sewell said. Her name wasn't immediately released.

The suspect remains at large. There was no word on a possible motive.


Wokness at work

Conservative Americans are not the only people fed up with the radical gender ideology that leftists have been peddling around the globe — Halifax, a bank over in the UK, faced a wave of backlash after posting a tweet that declared "Pronouns matter," along with a name tag that included the name "Gemma" and the pronouns "she/her/hers." 

Someone responded to the bank by tweeting, "Did all your staff agree on this or did a vocal few, force the change onto you with 'concerns'?"

A bank representative named Lara replied by noting that including gender pronouns is a choice: "Adding pronouns is completely optional. We're offering our colleagues the choice because we understand how important it is to create a safe and accepting environment that normalises the conversation around gender identity. ^Lara." 

When someone replied to the bank's initial tweet about pronouns and said that they were thinking they should shut down their account, a representative replied on the bank's official Twitter account with a message that said, "Hi, I'm Lee. At Halifax, we strive for inclusion and equality. Giving our colleagues the option to add their pronouns on their badge, helps to create an inclusive environment for our customers and colleagues."

Ben & Jerry's forced to end Israel boycott

Ben & Jerry's forced to end Israel boycott

Parent company Unilever says it 'rejects any form of discrimination'

Entitled to kill white people...

Ethan Liming suffered broken skull bone in brawl outside LeBron James’ I Promise School

Ethan Liming
Liming and his three friends allegedly shot a high-tech water gun at the suspects as they played basketball. 
Akron Public Schools
Deshawn Stafford Jr., 20, Tyler Stafford, 19, and Donovan Jones, 21, were arrested after the deadly fight.
Deshawn Stafford Jr., 20, Tyler Stafford, 19, and Donovan Jones, 21, were arrested after the deadly fight. 
U.S. Marshals Service