TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Egypt has pulled out of the US effort to forge an “Arab NATO” with key Arab allies, according to four sources familiar with the decision, in a blow to the Trump administration’s strategy to contain Iranian power.
Egypt conveyed its decision to the United States and other participants in the proposed Middle East Security Alliance, or MESA, ahead of a meeting held Sunday in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, one source said, according to Reuters.
Cairo did not send a delegation to the meeting, the latest gathering held to advance the US-led effort to bind Arab allies into a security, political and economic pact to counter Iran, the source said.
Uncertainty about whether US President Donald Trump will win a second term next year and whether a successor may ditch the initiative contributed to the Egyptian decision, the Arab source said.
“It’s not moving well,” a Saudi source said of the initiative.
The so-called initiative, which Saudi Arabia first proposed in 2017, also is aimed at limiting the growing regional influence of Russia and China, according to a classified White House document.
The Egyptian embassy in Washington and the White House did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
In addition to the United States and Saudi Arabia, the MESA participants include the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Jordan.
Two days after the Riyadh meeting, Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Washington for talks with Trump. Before the meeting, Trump said they would talk about security issues, but it was not clear whether they discussed MESA issue.
Two sources said the countries remaining in MESA were moving ahead with the initiative and would press Egypt diplomatically to revoke its withdrawal, with one saying that the decision did not appear to be final.
“We all want them back,” said the other source.
The withdrawal of Egypt, which has the Arab world’s largest military, is the latest setback to the so-called MESA initiative, informally referred to as the “Arab NATO.”