Israel’s Strategic Challenge in the Eastern Mediterranean

For decades, the U.S. Sixth Fleet kept the peace in the eastern Mediterranean, supported by interlocking alliances with Israel, Cyprus, Turkey, and Egypt. Recently this balance of power has crumbled: the U.S. has reduced its naval presence, Turkey has turned against Israel and is no longer a reliable member of NATO, and Egypt, feeling abandoned by America, is looking toward Russia, which has re-established itself as an important player in the region. Nor are these the only threats, as Efraim Inbar writes:

Growing Islamist freedom of action is threatening the region. . . . The disruptive potential of failed states, the access of Iran to Mediterranean waters, and interstate competition for energy resources are also destabilizing the region. But it is not clear whether the Western powers, particularly the United States, are aware of the possibility of losing the eastern part of the Mediterranean to Russia or radical Islam, or are preparing in any way to forestall such a scenario. U.S. naiveté and European gullibility could become extremely costly in strategic terms.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Israeli grand strategy, Mediterranean Sea, Naval strategy, Russia, Turkey

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy