King Abdullah II of Jordan
King Abdullah II of Jordan Image Credit: The New York Times

Dubai: Jordan’s King Abdullah II said he would support the formation of a Middle East military alliance similar to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) ahead of a visit of US President Joe Biden to the region.

“I would be one of the first people that would endorse a Middle East NATO,” the king, a major US ally, said in an interview with CNBC.

Gulf oil exporters have been pressing the US for better defence against attacks they blame on Iran and its proxies.

The idea of NATO itself expanding into the Middle East was touted by US President Donald Trump during his time in office as a way to counter Iran. King Abdullah said the vision for a Middle East NATO must be very clear, and its role should be well defined. “Otherwise, it confuses everybody,” he said.

King Abdullah said countries in the Middle East are also starting to work together to address challenges from the war in Ukraine, a unity he described as “unusual for the region.”

Gulf countries have pumped billions of dollars of aid into Egypt, a major wheat importer which is suffering the ripple effects of the war on its economy. Next month Saudi Arabia will convene regional leaders in a summit in Jeddah, that Biden will attend.

Regional diplomacy has intensified in recent months. This week the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman concluded a Middle East tour of Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, mending ties with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.