'Egypt has reportedly turned its back on a US-led initiative to establish a NATO-style alliance of Arab countries primarily aimed at countering Iran out of concerns that such a coalition could increase tensions with the Islamic Republic, among other reasons.
Four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday that Cairo had informed the US and the members of what is to be called the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) of the withdrawal plan ahead of their Sunday’s meeting in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
One of the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Egypt had not sent a delegation to the Riyadh event.
An Arab source stressed that Egypt had pulled out of the so-called “Arab NATO" because of its doubts about the seriousness of the proposal as well as the danger that such an Arab front would increase tensions with Tehran.
Other reasons were uncertainty about whether US President Donald Trump will win a second term in 2020 and whether his successor may scrap the initiative to form an anti-Iran alliance, the Arab source added.
Reuters described Cairo’s move as a blow to the Trump administration’s anti-Iran strategy.
A Saudi source also confirmed problems with the plan, saying, “It’s not moving well.”
Meanwhile, two other sources emphasized that the remaining MESA members were moving ahead with the initiative and would press Egypt diplomatically to revoke its withdrawal from the anti-Iran group.
“We all want them back,” said one of the sources.
The Arab source, however, noted that Egypt could not be convinced to return to the so-called “Arab NATO,” which is comprised of Jordan and six Persian Gulf Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
Egyptian officials have not yet commented on the report.'
Read more: Egypt pulls out of anti-Iran alliance envisioned by US, allies: Reuters
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