A New Alliance Is Emerging to Contain Turkey, and Israel Is a Key Part of It

Nov. 13 2020

Yesterday, the defense ministers of Israel, Cyprus, and Greece met in Nicosia, where they issued a statement condemning Turkish efforts to impinge on Cyprus’ coastal waters. The summit marks the solidification of a broader coalition—with these three states at its forefront—committed to restraining Ankara’s increasingly aggressive policies. As Oved Lobel explains, both Jerusalem’s warmer relations with the Gulf states, and the discovery of fossil-fuel reserves in the Mediterranean, strengthen this coalition:

The first trilateral meeting between the three countries took place in November 2017, at which stage military cooperation deepened dramatically.  Cyprus hosted a trilateral meeting with Israel and Greece earlier this year, and the three countries signed an agreement on deepening even further tripartite military cooperation a month ago. In July, the Greek parliament ratified a further defense agreement with Israel.

[In addition, there] is the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), established officially in Cairo in January 2020. The culmination of major gas discoveries within the [coastal waters] of Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt over the past decade and consequent energy partnerships, the EMGF is meant to serve as a regional forum for energy discussions and policy coordination among all the regional states, except Turkey.

France has applied to join as a full member, with the US participating as a permanent observer. . . . Egypt also announced a second explicitly anti-Turkey coalition consisting of France, Greece, the UAE, Cyprus, and Egypt.

The most important element of all of these partnerships is the strong U.S. backing they have received, and the deepening U.S. political and military support for all the countries involved.

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Read more at Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC)

More about: Cyprus, Greece, Israeli gas, Israeli Security, Turkey, United Arab Emirates

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy