Jordan’s King Abdullah has said that he would support forming a “Middle East NATO” amid efforts by the US and Israel to build an anti-Iran alliance in the region.
“I would be one of the first people that would endorse a Middle East NATO,” Abdullah told CNBC in an interview that aired Friday.
Jordan is designated by the US as a major “non-NATO ally” and has a history of cooperating and drilling with the military alliance. “I’d like to see more countries in the area come into that mix,” he said.
Abdullah’s comments came after Israeli Prime Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel was working to build a US-backed military alliance in the region against Iran with a focus on integrated missile defense systems. Gantz didn’t specify what countries are involved, but Israel has stepped up cooperation with the UAE and Bahrain since signing normalization agreements in 2020.
The idea is popular in Washington, and bills were introduced in Congress that would require the Pentagon to coordinate missile defense upgrades with Israel and the US’s Arab allies in the region, including Jordan. President Biden is set to attend a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Saudi Arabia next month as part of a tour of the Middle East, where he is expected to push for more Arab military cooperation with Israel.
The Biden administration is reportedly pushing for normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which could boost military ties between the two nations. Axios reported this week that the White House has been working on a “road map for normalization” that Biden is expected to discuss with Israeli and Saudi leaders.