JEDDAH: NATO chiefs were urged on Wednesday to seek allies in the Middle East to counter terrorist threats before they emerged in Europe.
“Collective European defense requires renewed effort to effectively combat hybrid asymmetric threats, to include terrorism,” said Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, who is attending the NATO summit in Brussels.
“The recently uncovered terror plots in Paris and Belgium, which have all the hallmarks of state sponsorship, and the mass terror attacks in Europe in 2016, should really highlight the need for NATO member states to counter such threats with innovative methods.
“This means not only depending on the US as a strategic partner, but also greater investment in their own defense and working with partners from the Middle East to South Asia to counter and deter asymmetric threats before they hit European shores.”
US President Donald Trump shocked allies as the summit began by suddenly demanding that they double their spending on defense. “He suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2 percent of their GDP on defence spending, but that they increase it to 4 percent,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
Trump’s surprise demand came after he clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel, called Germany a “captive” of Russia because of its gas links and singled out Berlin for failing to pay its way.
Later all 29 NATO leaders, including Trump, backed a joint statement committing themselves to greater “burden sharing” and to the alliance’s founding commitment that an attack on one member is an attack on them all — with no mention of the 4 percent.