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NATO summit to chart increased global role for Alliance
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 09 - 06 - 2021

Leaders of the 30-member NATO are to meet in person in Brussels on Monday (June 14) to discuss ways to expand the Alliance's global role in the coming decade.
The one-day meeting at NATO headquarters will focus on the NATO 2030 agenda initiative, which aims to strengthen the Alliance. They will also discuss developments in Afghanistan, and relations with Russia and China.
After a meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington on Monday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said they agreed on the importance of strengthening NATO in a "more competitive world, and that the ambitious decisions to be taken under the NATO 2030 initiative will prepare the Alliance for the future."
"This summit will be a strong demonstration of transAtlantic unity, of Europe and North America standing together in NATO," he said in an apparent reference to the attendance of US President Biden who will be visiting the Alliance headquarters on his first foreign trip.
He stressed the importance of strengthening the transAtlantic Alliance in a more competitive world.
"How can we continue to make sure NATO remains the most successful alliance in history? The key to do that is to continue to change as the world is changing.
"And at the upcoming NATO summit, we will agree to a forward-looking ambitious agenda. We call it NATO 2030," he said at the Atlantic Council on Monday.
The former US President Donald Trump was very critical of NATO saying it had become "obsolete". He also questioned why the US should continue paying the most money to protect Europe, and he pressured European members of NATO to increase their defense spending.
Therefore, Trump's departure from the White House was met with relief at NATO. On his part, Joe Biden regards NATO as the pinnacle of transAtlantic security and one of the United States'' most valued partners.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded in 1949 in the aftermath of the Second World War. Its main purpose was to defend Europe from Soviet expansion and from Communism.
However, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent demise of the 8-member Warsaw Pact left NATO with no obvious purpose and many in the West began questioning the logic behind the huge military spendings.
However, after the 9/11 attacks in the US, NATO turned its attention to fighting "international terrorism" with the focus on Afghanistan in its first intervention outside the Euro-Atlantic area.
As NATO comes to the end of its time in Afghanistan after 20 years its focus is now shifting on two countries, China and Russia, considered to be posing serious security and economic challenges to the West.
Speaking at an online event organized last week by NATO, The German Council on Foreign Relations, and The Brookings Institution, Stoltenberg said NATO Leaders would meet in Brussels, "at a pivotal moment for our Alliance."
"We are drawing down in Afghanistan. Ending our largest military operation. At the same time, we are stepping up our response to growing global competition. Russia and China are leading an authoritarian pushback against the rules-based international order," he said.
"Russia continues its pattern of dangerous behavior. With its massive military build-up from the Arctic to Africa," he said.
"China is asserting itself on the global stage. China will soon have the largest economy in the world. It already has the second-largest defense budget and the biggest navy. And it is seeking to control critical infrastructure in our countries and around the world," warned the NATO chief.
He sent a clear message "to any potential adversary that if one Ally is attacked, the whole Alliance will be there."
Stoltenberg clarified that NATO 2030 agenda "is also about working more closely with like-minded partners. To do all these we need to invest more and that's exactly what we are doing."
NATO is expanding its presence in the Middle East and the Gulf region with its partners. NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue was initiated in 1994. It currently involves seven non-NATO countries of the Mediterranean region: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia.
In 2017, NATO opened its first regional center in Kuwait within the framework of the NATO-Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI). Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE are members of ICI.
NATO launched a training mission for security forces in Iraq in 2018 and its boosting cooperation with Jordan and Tunisia. Overall, NATO is set for a more global role in the coming decade. — Agencies

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