By Javad Heirannia

“Arab NATO” will fail: Mehran Kamrava

August 4, 2018

TEHRAN - Mehran Kamrava, a professor of the Middle East Studies in Georgetown University of Doha, tells the Tehran Times that attempts to form a military alliance against Iran (Arab NATO) will fail.

Director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar also adds “Washington has tried many times before to form new regional alliances against Iran and to deepen existing ones, such as the PGCC. But none of these attempts have been successful, largely because the internal divisions and disagreements among the Arab countries themselves are too deep and too many.”

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: Washington has announced the formation of a military alliance in the Middle East against Iran, with the participation of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain, which is scheduled to be introduced in the United States soon. Will this coalition be considered as a real coalition or a military organization?

A: There have been other similar attempts at forming military alliances before, and the current discussion of an "Arab NATO" has precedent. But previous attempts at forming such a military alliance have all failed, and there is no reason to believe that this time things will be any different. There are major concerns and issues that each of the individual states have involving operations, logistics, command, equipment, manpower, and, of course, political considerations, all of which mitigate against the possibility of the formation of such a military alliance, at least in the foreseeable future.

Q: Due to the failure of previous coalitions against Iran, such as the Saudi or the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council alliances against Iran, How is assessed the fate of the current U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic Republic of Iran?

A: Washington has tried many times before to form new regional alliances against Iran and to deepen existing ones, such as the PGCC. But none of these attempts have been successful, largely because the internal divisions and disagreements among the Arab countries themselves are too deep and too many. Therefore I believe the current attempt will also be a failure. Even if such an alliance is formed on paper, operationally it will not have much power and significance.

Q: Why is it said that the coalition will be formed three weeks before sanctions against Iran?

A: The Trump administration is trying to use all levers available to it to increase the pressure on Iran. The reason for this is that similar to North Korea, against which Donald Trump made numerous threats and increased sanctions, Trump is trying to increase the pressure on Iran in order to have a summit with President Rouhani. So this is all part of a coordinated campaign to put maximum economic, political, and military pressures on Iran to force Iranian leaders to have a summit with Trump.

Q: Due to the policies of Donald Trump, it seems the U.S.-Arab military alliance is formed to extort from Arab countries especially through spread Iran phobia. What do you think about this?
A: Clearly the United States currently sees Iran as one of its main threats, and this is fueled by anti-Iranian sentiments and propaganda by the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. So we see a convergence of interests between these three actors -- the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and the UAE -- to put military pressure on Iran. But unlike KSA and the UAE, Trump has a slightly different agenda. He wants to put pressure on Iran so that during the next elections he can turn around and say that he was able to turn Iran from a regional threat to a regional friend.

Q: On the other hand, the current military alliance is with the participation of the Air Force and the Navy. Although the coalition needs the Land Army to succeed. How is this issue evaluated?

A: The goal of the military coalition isn't to invade Iran but to simply increase pressure and to be able to contain the perceived threat and ambitions of Tehran. Therefore, they do not need land-based forces as much as there is a need to pose threats in the air and in the sea. Also, command and control issues are easier when it comes to air force and naval forces as compared to ground forces, in which larger numbers of soldiers are involved and therefore the potential for casualties are higher.
 

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