Is 'Arab NATO' closer to reality after Pompeo's tour?
Updated 19:31, 17-Jan-2019
By Duan Fengyuan
Weeks after President Donald Trump's abrupt announcement to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, top Trump administration officials started a series of diplomatic activities to coordinate stances with allies in the Middle East, like U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton's endeavor in Israel and Turkey, so how's Mike Pompeo's test report this time?
On Tuesday, the U.S. secretary of state ended his eight-nation Middle East tour, which started on January 8 with a purpose of ramping up regional efforts to put pressure on Iran and calming the allies' fears over Washington's withdrawal plan.
Screenshot from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Twitter account

Screenshot from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Twitter account

Pompeo's visits covered Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman, plus an unannounced stop in Iraq and minus a canceled stop in Kuwait.
Here's a brief review of his attempt in restressing Washington's commitment to its allies and strengthening bilateral relations with these Middle East countries.
It is natural to associate these interactions with the U.S. attempt to revive the blueprint of an Arab NATO – an important part of Washington's Middle East policy, which has been hard to achieve.

"It will be difficult to hold a summit or launch MESA (the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East, also known as the "Arab NATO") as long as there is no progress or resolution for the Qatar dispute," Marcelle Wahba, former U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, told The National, referring to the prolonged political isolation of Qatar among Arab states. 

Yezid Sayigh, a senior researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said a tight alliance of Arab countries is unlikely without a common ground in defense.
A planned summit between the United States and its Gulf partners, initially scheduled for May last year and then rescheduled for October, has been postponed twice, indicating a cooperation gap between the two sides.
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Cairo-based Mohamed Mohsen Aboul-Nour, founder and chief of the Arab Forum for Analyzing Iranian Policies, told Xinhua that Washington will lead the so-called Arab NATO to suppress Iran, but its allies in the region, mainly the Gulf countries and Israel, will be the tools to implement the goal.
Screenshot from U.S. President Donald Trump's Twitter account.

Screenshot from U.S. President Donald Trump's Twitter account.

However, several Arab countries, such as Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Kuwait, do not regard Iran as an "enemy;" Oman's policy of neutrality also makes the country hard to confront Tehran.
Despite the lack of consensus, "the alliance already exists between certain Arab countries and the U.S. to contain Iran, at least de facto," Sayegh told the Defense News. 
For example, Qatar told Pompeo that it will increase funds for the expansion of a U.S. military base in the country, promising to increase investment from 30 billion to 45 billion U.S. dollars in the next two years.
This may be the biggest practical harvest of Pompeo's New Year tour.