There have been repeated, failed efforts over the decades to assemble some kind of Middle Eastern regional security force, something like an “Arab NATO.” Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, examines those initiatives all the way to the present. Grand initiatives are impossible, he argues, but small-scale, piecemeal, and tactical efforts to build cooperation among Arab security forces might make headway. America’s role remains important because of its deep bilateral security ties with so many Middle Eastern governments.
Meanwhile, the Arab states of the Gulf are enjoying warm relations with the United States but have fallen deep into internal feuds. Many of the Arab monarchies consider themselves in an existential struggle with Iran, and are also involved in regional conflicts elsewhere. Instead of building deeper relationships and coalitions, they have resorted to a constantly shifting mosaic of alliances, says Emile Hokayem, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. America’s insistence that Gulf countries exhibit more independence has increased instability, as Arab leaders in the Gulf hedge their bets with a greater number of often contradictory partnerships.
Katulis and Hokayem talk with TCF senior fellow Thanassis Cambanis about their contributions on these issues to Order from Ashes: New Foundations for Security in the Middle East. Their reports, and others in this TCF project, can be read online.
- Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, based in Washington, D.C.
- Emile Hokayem, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, based in London.
- Thanassis Cambanis, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, based in Beirut.