Israel Should Join a Strategic Alliance in the Mediterranean

In recent years, the governments of Greece and Cyprus have not only grown closer with each other but have also jointly cultivated better relations with Israel, Italy, Egypt, and Jordan. Eran Lerman sees the potential for the formation of a six-way alliance among these countries, or at least several interlocking three-member alliances, based on strategic and economic cooperation, including the joint exploitation of national-gas reserves. He writes:

The circumstances under which this format of strategic cooperation is developing in the eastern Mediterranean are directly related to a combination of three factors that have re-shaped the regional balance of power. . . . Of critical importance was the rise to power in 2002 of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the gradual but significant changes that have occurred in Turkey’s [ideological] and strategic orientation. Although Turkey has always been perceived as an enemy in Athens and Nicosia, the threat is now being felt even more in view of the justified concern that Turkey is seeking regional hegemony under the banner of an ideology with a distinctly Islamist character. Erdogan’s policies . . . are turning out to be a major challenge to the stability of the regimes in Egypt and Jordan, as well as to the essential interests of Israel, whether these have to do with Gaza or with Jerusalem. He is also participating in the struggle for power in Syria. . . .

The upheaval being experienced in the Arab world . . . is also having an important and [durable] effect. . . . Added to this is the effect of the Iranian and Russian presence in Syria, along the shores of the Mediterranean, and of their ambitions for further consolidation there. All this is part of an evolving reality in which the U.S. is reducing its strategic presence in the region and in which China, Russia, and to no less an extent Iran are each seeking in their own way to benefit from the situation and to solidify their positions. Israel, for its own reasons, is expanding its diplomatic efforts at the highest levels. . . .

The goal [of the alliance] should not be defined in terms of “containment” (with respect to the regime in Ankara) but rather as the opening up of possibilities. Thus, Turkey would be invited to join, although it is reasonable to assume that it will choose to do so only after it has adopted a different political and ideological trajectory. . . .

Israel has a growing interest in stressing that it is part of the Mediterranean community, in nurturing the reciprocal relations among the [area’s other] nations, and in encouraging a joint Mediterranean identity as opposed to Arabism and radical Islam. The new structure can, to a certain extent, also assist in countering Russia’s growing influence. . . .

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies

More about: Egypt, Greece, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Jordan, Mediterranean Sea

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy