A New Entente in the Eastern Mediterranean Offers a Counterweight to an Aggressive Turkey and an Officious Europe

When fires raged across central Israel last month, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Egypt, and Cyprus all sent firefighting aircraft to help put out the flames; even the Palestinian Authority (PA) sent its firefighters to pitch in. In January, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Egypt, and the PA formed an official consortium to cooperate in the extracting and exporting natural gas. These economic and civilian relationships also have diplomatic and military parallels, in the form of regular meetings and even joint military exercises. Taking stock of these developments, Eran Lerman highlights the shared goals of the emerging eastern Mediterranean alliance:

The [recent] IDF deployments to Cyprus, albeit scheduled long in advance, took place in the wake of the latest provocative acts by Turkey—prospecting in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone. This is but part of a pattern [of Ankara’s aggression against its local enemies]. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly lashed out at Israel. His agents are trying to stir trouble in Jerusalem. He speaks of re-opening discussion of the demarcation of the Greek border in the Aegean. Turkey has meddled in Libya, supporting the Sarraj government in Tripoli, associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Turkish military now has bases in Qatar and Sudan. . . .

For Israel as well as for Sisi’s Egypt, their [respective] tripartite dialogues [with Athens and Nicosia] are also a useful check against problematic winds blowing from Brussels. Since high-level policy decisions in the European system require a general consensus, a close alliance with two members of the EU (or more, if Italy is to be counted) is an important guarantee for both countries against those who seek to impose their own perceptions on the complexities of the Egyptian domestic situation, or on the Israel-Palestinian struggle.

To all of this one might add aspects of cultural affinity, which is being brought into focus this week at the Méditerranée festival in Israel’s port city of Ashdod, bringing performers from Morocco, Greece, and places in-between. The renewed interest in Israel in the legacy of [the Egyptian-born Israeli novelist and journalist] Jaqueline Kahanoff, who sought to elevate the “Levantine” identity into a possible template for Israel’s future, bridging east and west, is another indicator.

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel diplomacy, Natural Gas, Turkey

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin