Trump Saudi Visit Aims to Formalize ‘Arab NATO’ in Mideast: Russian Analyst

(Tasnim) – A Russian political commentator said US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia is aimed at formalizing a so-called “Arab NATO” in the Middle East in an attempt to strengthen Washington’s position in the region.

“The US President wants to clinch a roughly $100 billion arms deal which has the potential to grow into approximately $350 billion in sales across the next decade, and he also wants to make progress in formalizing a so-called “Arab NATO” between the [P]GCC (and inferred elements of the Saudi-led “anti-terrorist” coalition), “Israel”, and the US (with possible partial and/or informal NATO participation),” Andrew Korybko, a political analyst at the Moscow-based Geopolitika.Ru think tank, told the Tasnim News Agency.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Tasnim: On Saturday, US President Donald Trump opened a nine-day foreign trip in Saudi Arabia. The past four US presidents, when making their first trips abroad, traveled to either Canada or Mexico. Donald Trump, by contrast, has traveled to Saudi Arabia. What is your take on Trump’s visit? Please explain the reasons behind his trip.

Korybko: Trump’s visit to the Wahhabi Kingdom is a unipolar power play disguised as a civilizational outreach attempt. Much has been made about the symbolism of the US President meeting with dozens of Muslim leaders in one of the religion’s most well-known locations and delivering a speech on the faith, but comparatively less has been said about the substantial outcomes that he hopes to achieve.

The US President wants to clinch a roughly $100 billion arms deal which has the potential to grow into approximately $350 billion in sales across the next decade, and he also wants to make progress in formalizing a so-called “Arab NATO” between the [P]GCC (and inferred elements of the Saudi-led “anti-terrorist” coalition), “Israel”, and the US (with possible partial and/or informal NATO participation).

If successful in either or both of these endeavors, then Trump would bolster the US’ position in the Mideast through its strengthened “Lead From Behind” proxy network and assist the unipolar camp in adapting to the game-changing multipolar changes which have swept the region since the commencement of Russia’s anti-terrorist intervention in Syria.

Tasnim: Trump is also scheduled to make a speech for 50 leaders of Muslim countries attending the “Arab Islamic American Summit” during his two-day tour. It seems that Arabs are still excited about Donald Trump, even as the president’s position among his own people continues to collapse. What do you think? Do you believe Trump is looking for more respect abroad?

Korybko: Yes, Trump is certainly interested in cultivating more respect for himself personally, but in reality what he’s doing is executing the grand geostrategic plans of the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (the “deep state”) per the designs that I elaborated on in my first answer.

The overarching objective is to lay the framework for a massive anti-Iranian coalition which will indirectly confront the Islamic Republic and its regional allies all throughout the Mideast, leading to an intensification of the existing American-led proxy wars in “Syraq” and Yemen and possibly even culminating in a new conflict somewhere else like in Lebanon.

Tasnim: According to a recent article published in The Atlantic, “US strategists have long dreamed of creating an indigenous military coalition in the [Persian] Gulf that could take some of the security burden off the 35,000 US troops stationed there—or perhaps free up some of those 35,000 troops to do jobs elsewhere in, say, the Asia-Pacific region.” Kindly share your thoughts with us on this.

Korybko: I agree that this is the ultimate vision that the US hopes to advance in the Mideast. The outsourcing of unipolar leadership capabilities to regional states with a shared interest in the US’ objectives is what I term the “Lead From Behind” model, which is essentially the most cost-effective and efficient way for the US to delay and potentially even reverse its hegemonic decline in light of the emerging Multipolar World Order being spearheaded by Russia, China, and Iran.

Just as NATO is the US’ “Lead From Behind” proxy against Russia and an evolving East-South Asian military-strategic framework between Japan and India fulfills the same purpose vis-a-vis China, so too is this so-called “Arab NATO” anticipated to play an identical structural role as regards Iran.

Tasnim: As you know, since March 25, 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to Hadi. According to Yemen’s Legal Center of Rights and Development, the Saudi campaign has claimed the lives of over 12,000 Yemenis and left more than 20,000 others wounded. Media reports suggest that Trump will use his Saudi Arabia trip to announce one of the largest arms sales deals in US history. What’s your take on the ongoing Saudi military aggression against Yemen and Washington’s unwavering support for it?

Korybko: Apart from my unwavering moral opposition to this horrendous anti-humanitarian war of unbridled and utterly barbaric aggression, I also believe that the War in Yemen has been strategically disastrous for joint US-Saudi unipolar interests and has thus far proven to be counterproductive to the original goals which they both claimed and were assumed to be pursuing.

Officially, the war was launched to restore deposed and unpopular former President Hadi to power after he fled the country for Saudi Arabia, but Riyadh has yet to reinstall him as their subordinate manager over the entirety of Yemen. Informally, it was widely understood that the paranoid and sectarian-obsessed Saudis feared that the Ansarallah national liberation-rebel movement was secretly an Iranian front organization and needed to be destroyed, though the group has proven resilient due to the overwhelming popular support that it wields from the masses.

Image Source: Dan Markeye, Flickr, Creative Commons
 created by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (public domain).

Saudi Arabia has experienced tremendous blowback from its failed and extraordinarily costly War on Yemen, with tens of billions of dollars being wasted, countless Saudi and allied occupying troops getting killed, and even sporadic missile and other sorts of attacks occasionally being carried across the border and inside the Kingdom’s actual territory.

Even worse for Riyadh is that the war exposed just how weak its armed and allied forces really are, which has irreparably dented Saudi prestige even in the countries where the Kingdom’s “soft power” is traditionally popular.

The best thing that can happen for both the Yemeni people and even the Saudis themselves is for Russia or some other completely neutral multipolar Great Power like China (or perhaps both of them in fact)  to take the lead in mediating a democratic political settlement to the peninsular country’s myriad problems, though this is precisely the scenario which the US has been opposed to so far because it wants to indefinitely perpetuate the conflict in order to promote the pecuniary interests of its military-industrial complex.

DISCLAIMER: Andrew participated in this interview in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by him should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any media outlet or institution.

This report prepared by Tasnim.