WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is working on a formal alliance structure with Gulf Arab states that would counterbalance Iran’s military posture in the region .

Sources told The Jerusalem Post that the White House is planning a conference in mid-October that would convene Egypt, Jordan and Gulf Cooperation Council members either in Washington or at Camp David, the president’s official retreat. The parties would discuss formation of a Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) that would enhance defense ties and commitments.

Gulf leaders last traveled to Camp David, located in Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont, Maryland, in 2015, when then-president Barack Obama invited Arab diplomats to the retreat in order to secure their support for a nuclear deal he was concluding with Tehran and five other world powers. The Sunni Arab allies agreed to support the agreement in public, but privately disapproved of it and have welcomed President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement this year.

Planning for the summit is still in early stages, according to Reuters, which characterizes MESA as a potential “Arab NATO” that would provide American protection for Arab powers concerned with Iran’s increasingly military presence in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

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