The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi complicates the alliance between Arab states and US against Iran, Reuters news agency reported.
In an article published on Friday, Reuters’ Jonathan Landay and Yara Bayoumy said that US President Donald Trump’s strategy to contain Iranian power in the Middle East by forging Arab allies into a US-backed security alliance was in trouble even before the murder of Khashoggi.
The writers reported that feuds among Arab allies, one of which is the Saudi-led Qatar boycott and now Khashoggi’s murder the process of establishing the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) alliance.
The Riyadh-based Alliance aspires to bind Sunni Muslim governments in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan in a US-led security, political and economic international treaty in face of Iran.
A summit meeting in the United States where Trump and the Arab leaders would sign a preliminary accord on the alliance was expected in January.
But the three U.S. sources and a Gulf diplomat said the meeting now looks uncertain. It has already been postponed several times, Landay and Bayoumy reported.
One issue is how the Americans could have the Saudi crown prince attend the summit without causing widespread outrage, they added.
“It’s not palatable,” the source said.
Robert Malley, a top Middle East adviser to former President Barack Obama who now heads the International Crisis Group, a conflict prevention organization, said it would be difficult for MbS to attend a January summit “given what happened and how raw the feelings are.”
“I’m not sure he would want to come to the United States right now,” Malley said.
Retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, the administration’s chief MESA negotiator, said the initiative “is moving forward” but added that the impact of Khashoggi’s death was unclear.
“I don’t know yet how it will affect the process. Awaiting final investigation and decisions,” Zinni told Reuters in a recent email. “I think there may be a wait until the investigation (maybe forensics if a body is found) is complete before a way forward is discussed.”