US President Trump says NATO must expand to include the Middle East and suggests naming it – ‘NATOME’  

Washington: Given the recent US-Iran tensions, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) should consider the Middle Eastern nations while expanding and include them in the military alliance, demanded US President Donald Trump. Trump is said to have made the proposal to the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg during a telephonic discussion. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also discussed the matter with NATO chief, which NATO has confirmed. Previously, in 2018, Trump attempted to form the ‘Arab NATO’ to counter Iran.   

Tensions escalated significantly in the Middle East after the US drone attack on Iran’s top military commander Major-General Qassem Soleimani. After that, Iran launched hypersonic missiles on two US bases in Iraq. Also, Iran-backed groups attacked the US embassy in Iraq twice with rockets.   

The US has, however, decided not to respond with military confrontation and imposed severe sanctions on Iran instead. Even though the US can independently engage in a major battle with Iran, the US has hinted at involving the European nations as well as other allies in it. Given the developments, Trump’s demand to get the Middle Eastern countries involved in NATO’s military alliance assumes much significance.   

In a telephonic conversation with the NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, President Trump suggested the military alliance could be renamed as ‘NATOME’ or ‘NATO plus ME’ after including the Middle Eastern nations. ‘I think NATO should be expanded and we should include the Middle East. Absolutely. NATO has the potential to contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism, and we are looking into what more we can do.’ said Trump as he suggested an expansion for NATO.   

If NATO takes up responsibility in the Middle East process, the US can call back a vast number of troops from the Middle East, asserted President Trump. Furthermore, Trump went on to say that NATO needed to focus primarily on the fight against the ISIS in the Middle East. NATO must remember that the US defeated the ISIS and assured Europe in the past, Trump said. After Trump’s address, NATO released an independent statement which clarified that NATO was to assume an active role in the regional stability and against international terrorism.  

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg spoke to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well. Pompeo informed that they discussed NATO and its role in the Middle East. After the attacks last year on the Saudi oil infrastructure, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper appealed to NATO for taking up the responsibility for the security of Saudi and other Arab states.  

In 2017, Trump had taken the lead in arranging a summit with the Arab-Islamic nations. The US President had announced forming a coalition of Arab-Islamic nations to fight against terrorism. After that, an agreement called the ‘Middle East Strategic Alliance’ (MESA) was inked. The deal would work as a system for restricting Iran’s aggression, terrorism, extremism, and establishing regional peace.   

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