The "North Atlantic" Treaty Organization (NATO), the Cold War-era military pact construct that the United States has been using to put an international veneer on its military intervention abroad, has taken a major step into establishing a permanent footprint in the Middle East.
During a visit to Poland, United Arab Emirates Foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan, inked a deal with Poland's neocon and American Enterprise Institute-trained Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, that the UAE will become the first Arab nation to accredit an ambassador to NATO.The move comes after fighter aircraft from the UAE and Qatar joined NATO forces in the bloc's attack on Libya.
NATO's attempt to extend its umbrella to the Middle East began in 2004 with the establishment of NATO's Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), which opened up NATO's foyer to Middle East nations that "subscribe to the aim and content of this initiative, including the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." The purpose of the ICI was clearly aimed at Iran, in addition to cementing NATO's military ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Members of the ICI are the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. Saudi Arabia and Oman are members of the GCC but they opted out of the ICI.
After the United States, France, and Britain, the major NATO countries that backed military action against Libya, failed to achieve a solid endorsement from the Arab League for military action, the Obama administration is attempting to replace the Arab League as the premier regional organization representing the Arab nations, with a military-oriented grouping that is linked to NATO.
With the decline of influence of Arab League power houses members like Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, NATO is hoping to replace the Arab League with something the United States, and, by default, Israel, can find easier to manipulate and control. The GCC, which acts as a surrogate for U.S. interests in the Middle East, is now copying NATO by offering membership to nations outside of its base region, including Morocco and Jordan, two other close U.S. allies in the region. Morocco and Jordan have established links to NATO via NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue. NATO has been discussing membership with nations far removed from the North Atlantic, including Ukraine and Georgia.
Other Mediterranean Dialogue members are Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Mauritania, and, more ominously, Israel, a nation that craves NATO membership and which has been using its powerful lobby in Washington to urge U.S. backing for the Tel Aviv regime taking a seat at the NATO roundtable in Brussels.
With NATO's backing for the Libyan rebels, the probability that a post-Qaddafi Libya will become part of NATO's network in North Africa is real. Similarly, the GCC has been discussing membership for Yemen after President Ali Abdullah Saleh steps down, a move that the GCC has been negotiating with little success to date. There have also been preliminary membership discussions between the GCC and Iraq.
In its move to put its own imprimatur on the "Arab Spring," the Obama administration seems to be more interested in expanding NATO's influence into the Middle East and North Africa through contrivances like the ISI and Mediterranean Dialogue. Both constructs appear to have arised from the bowels of neocon think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, not to mention Israeli lobbying mills like the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA).
The Obama administration, rather than looking ahead in the new Middle East, is looking behind, to 1955, and the creation of the anti-Soviet axis called the Baghdad Pact, a military alliance of Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States. After Iraq withdrew in 1959, the alliance became the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), an eastward extension of NATO in America's "containment" policy designed to stop the expansion of the Soviet bloc.
Today, the Obama administration continues the policies of its predecessor in seeking to expand NATO with a new CENTO taking shape. However, unlike CENTO, "NATO Middle East" appears to have two primary targets: Iran and Pakistan, both if which were, ironically, members of CENTO when the Soviet Union was America's top bogeyman in the region.