An Eastern Mediterranean Alliance

In January, the Prime Ministers of Israel, Cyprus and Greece met to launch a new alliance in the eastern Mediterranean (http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/A-new-geopolitical-bloc-is-born-Israel-Greece-and-Cyprus-445645).  This meeting was a prelude to the signing of an agreement of cooperation between the three countries in Nicosia in February.   This has tremendous implications for the future of this strategic region and for Israel.

Of these countries, Israel is the only major military power.  Both Greece and Cyprus have major economic problems, and although members of the EU, are not in any significant way protected by their EU-NATO alliance.  All three countries were at pains to emphasize that this alliance is not against any other country, meaning specifically Turkey.  On the contrary, the northern third of Cyprus is still occupied by Turkey after 30 years, and the EU and US are doing nothing about this [Although everyone is very concerned about the fake “occupation” by Israel of the Palestinians – note that under the Oslo Accords the PA and Gaza govern ca 95% of all Palestinian Arabs].  Also, Greece and Turkey are very traditional enemies,although they have been getting along somewhat better in recent years.  But, the Islamic policies of Pres. Erdogan and the trend towards expansionist policies in Turkey greatly worry Greeks.   It should be pointed out that Greece has been one of the most anti-Semitic countries in Europe, but on the other had they hate the Turks more than they hate the Jews.

Apart from this general anti-Turkish bias, the three countries have one other major common interest and that is oil and natural gas.  Israel now has very major finds of natural gas in the Mediterranean off Haifa, and Cyprus has some wells too nearby.  Israel is far better positioned to exploit these finds and Cyprus is being helped by Israel in developing their finds.  Also, such wells need security from attack and Israel has established a military command purely for this purpose (one can imagine Islamic terrorists in Gaza or Lebanon looking for ways to attack the Israeli wells).   Greece in its dire economic situation, also with the addition of tens of thousands of Muslim migrants invading the country, needs help.  Israel is prepared to supply natural gas to Greece at discounted prices.  This is good for both countries.  Other countries might later be included in this alliance (possibly Egypt, Italy and Bulgaria).

The BESA (Begin-Sadat) Center at Bar Ilan University has issued a report written by Col. Dr. Eran Lerman on the Eastern Mediterranean and Israel’s role in the development of a new strategic alliance (see http://besacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/MSPS117.pdf).  I have not read this rather long and detailed paper, but it is very timely and fits in with the new situation in which the USA under Pres. Obama is no longer acting as the superpower we all thought it was.  It is rather leaving its allies to fend for themselves while the US is more concerned with improving relations with its enemies, namely the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Iranian Ayatollah regime and Putin’s Russia.  Under these circumstances, a country like Israel, that is indeed militarily strong and has a good stable economy must look to its own interests.

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