Israel, Greece, and Cyprus Emerge as a Bulwark of Freedom in the Eastern Mediterranean

Today, the leaders of Cyprus, Greece, and Israel are meeting for what will be the fifth such summit of this new alliance, which has been built in part on plans to cooperate in the extraction of natural gas. The three countries also share concerns about the increasing influence of Russia, Turkey, and Iran in the eastern Mediterranean. Each of the latter three has established a presence in both Syria and the Balkans, and both Turkey and Iran have significant influence in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile the U.S. no longer maintains an aircraft carrier in the area and appears to have decided to withdraw its troops from Syria. Efraim Inbar comments:

The eastern Mediterranean has always been important to Israel because over 90 percent of Israel’s foreign trade traverses this area. The gas fields discovered and now being mined in Israel’s Mediterranean economic waters have magnified [its] importance. . . . However, Israel’s gas riches are under threat. Hamas and Hizballah are investing in their naval forces. Hamas already has fired missiles against an Israeli-operated gas rig, and Hizballah has threatened to do so. The Russian and Turkish navies might yet adopt more adventurous postures, too. There may soon be an Iranian naval presence commensurate with Tehran’s hegemonic ambitions.

Thus, Israel has one more strategic flank to protect. Unfortunately, the naval component in the Israeli military has not been sufficiently prioritized. Israel needs a bigger and stronger navy. The rationale for a larger Israeli naval force is even more compelling given the enormous missile threat aimed at Israel, making Israel’s airfields and strategic ground assets ever more vulnerable.

Israel’s military deficit in the eastern Mediterranean [stands in sharp contrast to] its diplomatic success. It became a close partner in an eastern Mediterranean alignment that consists of Greece and Cyprus. Egypt is indirectly also a member [of this alliance], although it prefers to interact separately with Israel. The four countries share similar concerns about Turkish foreign-policy directions and have similar energy interests. Cooperation in Washington on eastern Mediterranean issues is also important.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Cyprus, Greece, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Middle East, Natural Gas, Russia

 

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf