In recent months the struggle for control of Libya has escalated as the forces of Khalifa Haftar—backed by Egypt and Russia—fight against the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned and Turkey-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). By establishing its influence in North Africa, Ankara hopes to counteract the deepening alliance among Greece, Cyprus, and Israel and cut off its access to European markets. This alliance, under the formal rubric of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMFG), began with collaboration in the extraction of undersea fossil fuels and has evolved into broader economic and military cooperation. Eran Lerman explains what all this means for Jerusalem:
The role played by Russian mercenaries, and now by pro-Assad Syrian “volunteers,” may be troubling; but the consequences of the total collapse of [Haftar’s forces] would be more severe.
[It is thus necessary for] the relevant EMFG nations to coordinate their policies effectively. The key players are Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, and Israel. Tripartite summits should be convened as soon as possible. Italy has long been relatively friendly towards the GNA, but suspicious of Erdogan’s designs: [it now] may be indicating a willingness to act to curb Turkish ambitions.
Israel’s role must, by necessity, be diplomatic and discreet. It should focus upon . . . forging a common position of all EMGF countries.
Meanwhile, amidst many other challenges, the IDF—navy, air force, and intelligence—as well as Israel’s defense and intelligence establishment as a whole should start preparing for the darker scenario of having to face an overt Turkish bid to control fully the eastern Mediterranean sea lanes of communication.