Navigating the Egypt-Turkey-Russia Triangle

On October 9, Moscow and Cairo announced that their navies are planning joint exercises in the Black Sea—a move clearly aimed at Turkey, which has a bitter enemy in Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and has increasingly run afoul of Vladimir Putin in Syria, the Caucasus, and Libya. Jerusalem’s interests lie with the pro-Israel Sisi against Turkey’s pro-Hamas Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but the situation is hardly straightforward. Jonathan Spyer explains:

In Israel, the rivalries between regional powers are generally understood to offer a certain advantage to Jerusalem, in that the power diplomatically closer to Israel (in this case Egypt) is likely to feel the need to cleave more closely to its allies in the face of a shared threat. The establishment of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum and its recent formalization as an international organization exemplify this process.

The efforts of Moscow to assert itself as a power in the eastern Mediterranean should sound a cautionary note, however. . . . Russia is strategically aligned in the Levant with Iran, Israel’s most implacable enemy. Russian weapons (via Iran and Syria) make up the bulk of the formidable arsenal assembled in the service of Iranian goals by Lebanese Hizballah. Russia is also a rival of Israel in the matter of gas exports to Europe. All this means that Russian efforts to leverage regional power rivalries to increase its own presence and influence are not a net positive for Jerusalem. From the Israeli point of view, while there is no enmity, the less Russia, the better.

The Russian entry into the picture, as elsewhere, is made possible by the absence of another major power. The EU can issue declarations, but it has no united force to deploy. The power that is absent in the eastern Mediterranean, and indeed whose absence makes possible both the Turkish aggression and the Russian attempt to “mediate,” is the United States.

Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Egypt, Israeli Security, Natural Gas, Russia, Turkey, U.S. Foreign policy

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7