Israel’s Strategic Challenge in the Eastern Mediterranean

November 4, 2014 | Efraim Inbar
About the author: Efraim Inbar is president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS).

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.

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