“Middle East NATO”? Why Iran is closely following Biden’s regional trip

Last month, US lawmakers introduced legislation to create an integrated air defense system to increase cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors, including countries whose leaders Biden will meet this week in Saudi Arabia. The defense system is aimed at protecting these states from Iran.

King Abdullah of Jordan, whom Biden will meet in Saudi Arabia, said this month that he favors joining the “Middle East NATO” with like-minded countries, without specifying which ones.
Don't Expect Sword Dances When Biden Visits Saudi Arabia
Iran views the Arab-Israeli military plan as provocative move and a threat to its national security, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said on Saturday, state news agency IRNA reported. He accused the US of spreading “Iranophobia” among countries in the region, IRNA reported.

The United Arab Emirates, which is in direct talks with Tehran, said on Friday that it is not interested in joining the anti-Iranian alliance.

“We are open to cooperation, but not cooperation aimed at any other country in the region, and I specifically mention Iran,” UAE Presidential Adviser Anwar Gargash told CNN’s Becky Anderson. He added that the UAE is in the process of sending an ambassador to Tehran.

Some analysts say that if neighbors attack Iran, it may retaliate.

An Arab-Israeli military alliance is “a terrible idea,” said Trita Parsi, vice president of the Quincy Institute in Washington, D.C., “because it cements existing divisions in the region and reduces the likelihood of diplomatic breakthroughs.” Such factions are aimed at organizing a region against a specific state instead of achieving “real peace,” Parsi told CNN.

Previous American attempts to isolate Iran at Israel’s behest led Tehran to sabotage the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in order to undermine Washington’s efforts, he said. “If Biden’s anti-Iranian alliance does strengthen, it could encourage Iran to return to its 1990s policy of actively pushing its allies to destabilize parts of the region,” he added.

On Thursday, Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid signed a new joint declaration committing never to allow Iran will get nuclear weapons and counter Iran’s “destabilizing activities”.

“There is a potential [Biden’s] the visit could create additional tension,” Mohammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Tehran, told CNN.

This prospect has not escaped the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, who are afraid of falling into the line of fire. between Iran and the US.

Gargash told CNN that tensions with Iran needed to be reduced. “We must find solutions, and we must also use economic cooperation in various areas,” he said.

Abdulhalek Abdullah, a professor of political science in the UAE, told CNN that presenting a potential military alliance as a regional NATO is “very provocative and I don’t think it’s acceptable to anyone who is being asked to join.”

While there is a consensus in the region that Iran is now destabilizing more than ever, Israel and the Gulf Arab states differ on how to approach the problem, he told CNN.

“The mood in Abu Dhabi and in Riyadh is to talk to Iran “Instead of provoking Iran,” he said. “This is where the Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, diverge from Israel.”
Biden walks the political and diplomatic tightrope in Saudi Arabia
The US statement this week that Iran could delivery of drones to Russia could be used by the Biden administration to strengthen the case for a Middle East defense pact against Iran, said Anishe BassiriSenior Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London.
“The timing of this information [on Iranian drone sales] interesting,” she told CNN’s Becky Anderson on Tuesday. “We know the US is trying to form this defense pact with Israel, and I think the focus of this pact is on the capabilities that countries have when it comes to drones. . Whether the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries have any interest is another matter,” she said.

“There is a lot of Israeli propaganda that goes into marketing and promoting such a deal,” Abdullah said. “Logistically, it’s not very easy to do.”

Digest

A majority of young people in Saudi Arabia see the Palestinian cause as a priority, according to the poll.

Three-quarters of Saudi youth believe that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be a priority for the Arab world, according to the 13th edition of the Arab Youth Poll. The poll also showed that more than 90% of Saudi youth, who make up nearly two-thirds of the country’s population, see the US as an ally.

  • Background: The findings were announced Thursday ahead of Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia. The poll comes amid tense US-Saudi relations and efforts by the Biden administration to strengthen relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
  • Why is it important: The poll shows the importance Saudi youth attaches to the Palestinian issue as Riyadh moves closer to Israel. It also suggests that despite tensions between the Biden administration and Saudi Arabia, Saudi youth continue to see the US as an ally.

Netanyahu Says Biden Agrees Military Strike Will Be Necessary If Iran Develops Nuclear Weapons

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday suggested to President Biden that he agree to a military strike against Iran if Tehran develops nuclear weapons. “I told him that without a credible military option, Iran cannot be stopped, and if Iran is not deterred, this military option will need to be implemented. This is my position. I very much hope that this is also the American position,” he said. Netanyahu. “Have [Biden] said that he agreed with these words, and I was glad to hear it, ”he added.

  • Background: Netanyahu’s announcement came as he tries to return as prime minister amid political stalemate in Israel. During his trip to Jerusalem, Biden reaffirmed his promise to defend Israel from Iran. In an interview with Israeli News Channel 12 on Wednesday, the president was asked if his obligation to ensure that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon means that he will use force against Iran. “If this were the last resort, then yes,” Biden replied.
  • Why is it important: Israel is touting a “regional air defense alliance” led by the United States that will mainly focus on countering Iranian drones and missiles. Biden defended his trip to the Middle East, saying regional allies are needed as Iran makes progress on its nuclear program.

White House confirms Biden will meet with MBS without the presence of the king of Saudi Arabia

The White House on Friday confirmed for the first time that Biden would meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, without the presence of his father King Salman while the US president is in Jeddah.

  • Background: According to Biden’s schedule, the King of Saudi Arabia will only be present for about 30 minutes during bilateral meetings on Friday night. This is the first time the White House has publicly acknowledged this. Biden and the crown prince will continue the meeting after the departure of the king.
  • Why is it important: The meeting will be a turning point from Biden’s previous attempt to avoid MBS. The White House said at the start of Biden’s presidency that the president’s interactions with the leadership of Saudi Arabia would “replicate each other.”

What to watch

Lina Au Akle, niece of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shirin Abu Akle, told CNN’s Becky Anderson how her family feels about Biden’s regional tour as she continues to grieve.

“This is where Shirin was born… and this is where she was killed,” Abu Akle said. “Therefore, it was very important for us to be able to sit with the president himself, to listen to our demands.”

Watch the interview here:

By region

Some Iranian women are challenging the state-imposed hijab in their country, saying they want to let their hair down and dress freely.

Numerous posts have surfaced on social media this week showing Iranian women inside and outside the country removing their hats in public in violation of the Islamic Republic’s strict morality laws.

Beginning with activists’ campaign against Iran’s “National Hijab and Chastity Day” celebrated in the Gulf State every year on July 12 to promote the wearing of the veil, the call to ban the head covering has spread across social media.

More than 120 human rights activists have signed a statement condemning Chastity Day, saying the celebration is a pretext to “commemorate the oppression of Iranian women,” the publication reported. IranWire news site.

Women in Iran are required to cover their hair with a veil and also wear loose clothing to hide their body shapes.

The semi-official Iranian news agency Fars on Wednesday published photos of women gathered on the streets of Tehran. chastity day celebration in full compliance with the rules.

Nadine Ebrahim

Photo of the day

A waning, bulging moon rises behind a lighted children's amusement park in the rebel-controlled city of Idlib, northwest Syria, on July 14.