Jordan’s King Abdallah backs plans for a 'Middle East NATO'
Jordan’s King Abdullah on Friday said he would be in favour of a Middle Eastern military alliance built on the same model as NATO.
“I would be one of the first people that would endorse a Middle East NATO,” the Hashemite leader told the US’ CNBC news channel.
King Abdallah evoked the idea of grouping “like-minded countries” in a military alliance build to serve a defined goal. “The mission statement has to be very, very clear. Otherwise, it confuses everybody,” the king added.
The Jordanian army already closely cooperates militarily with NATO forces and western troops, and has deployed several hundred troops abroad to serve in UN peacekeeping missions. Several western nations, including the US, have military bases in the kingdom.
In the interview, a full record of which is yet to be released, the Jordanian leader also mentioned Iran’s growing influence in the region and the Israel-Palestine crisis.
Jordanian officials have voiced increasing concerns in recent months over expanding Iranian activities in southern Syria, and the growing quantities of narcotics smuggled through the joint border with Syria.
Syria is a major source for the production and export of Captagon, an amphetamine that has been smuggled into countries across the region and caused major concerns in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and others about its proliferation.
Analysts believe that these rampant security issues could push Jordan towards a closer military alliance with the US and allies in the region - including Israel.
Such a move would likely be highly contested in Jordan, where more than half of the population is of Palestinian origin and where economic cooperation agreements with Israel have until now been met with nationwide protests.
Diplomatic relations between Jordan and Israel severely deteriorated this year following Israeli attacks on worshipping rights at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque. The mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam and faced repeated Israeli security and settler assaults during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Jordan's royal Hashemite family has been the custodian of al-Aqsa and other holy sites in the occupied sector since 1924.