“Ακόμα και εάν κλιμακωθούν οι εντάσεις στη Μεσόγειο, φτάνοντας στο σημείο ένοπλης αντιπαράθεσης, το Ισραήλ δεν θα μπορέσει να εμπλακεί άμεσα.
Μπορεί εν τούτοις να βοηθήσει στην ενίσχυση της συνεργασίας στον τομέα πληροφοριών (intelligence), στις στρατιωτικές προμήθειες και ειδικότερα πολιτικά, στους κύκλους της Ουάσιγκτον, η οποία θα καθορίσει το επίπεδο των φιλοδοξιών του Ερντογάν”.
Τα παραπάνω αναφέσει η ισραηλινή “δεξαμενή σκέψης” (think tank) Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS), που δημοσίευσε ανάλυση του Στρατηγού εν αποστρατεία και αντιπροέδρου του, Dr Eran Lerman, με τίτλο “Ισραήλ, Ελλάδα και η τουρκική πρόκληση: σοβαρά τεστ στο μέλλον”.
- Γίνεται αναφορά στην επίσκεψη του Έλληνα Πρωθυπουργού στο Ισραήλ τον περασμένο μήνα, υποστηρίζοντας ότι τα θέματα του κορωναϊού και του τουρισμού συζητήθηκαν περισσότερο για τα φώτα της δημοσιότητας, με πολύ σοβαρότερα θέματα να συζητούνται στο παρασκήνιο, που αφορούσαν στην Άμυνα και την Εξωτερική Πολιτική υπό το φως των προκλήσεων που θέτει η πολιτική του Erdogan.
Σημειώνεται ότι οι υπουργοί Εξωτερικών της Ελλάδας και του Ισραήλ συζήτησαν, κατά τη διάρκεια της επίσκεψης, πολύ σοβαρά θέματα, όπως ο ρόλος της Ελλάδας στη μάχη κατά του αντισημιτισμού και η στήριξη της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης σε αυτήν την προσπάθεια, δίνοντας ιδιαίτερη βαρύτητα στην κατάσταση στη Μεσόγειο και τη Μέση Ανατολή.
Ο αναλυτής τονίζει ότι, ακόμα και εάν δεν έγινε σαφής αναφορά στον Εrdogan στις κοινές δηλώσεις των δύο Πρωθυπουργών, εμμέσως πλην σαφώς αναφέρονταν σε αυτόν.
Στη συνέχεια, προβαίνει σε ανάλυση της κατάστασης στην περιοχή της Μεσογείου, γράφει για την απόφαση να μετατραπεί η Αγία Σοφία σε τζαμί, καθώς και για τους συσχετισμούς δυνάμεων και συμφερόντων των εμπλεκομένων στον πόλεμο της Λιβύης.
Στο ερώτημα για το τι μπορεί να κάνει το Ισραήλ σε περίπτωση που οξυνθεί η κατάσταση στη Μεσόγειο απαντά:
“Ακόμα και εάν οι διενέξεις στην Ανατολική Μεσόγειο κλιμακωθούν τόσο όσο να φτάσουν σε πολεμική σύρραξη, το Ισραήλ δεν θα μπορέσει να εμπλακεί άμεσα σε αυτήν, ούτε δίπλα στην Ελλάδα και την Κύπρο ούτε στην Αίγυπτο και τη Λιβύη. Άμεση προτεραιότητά του είναι οι ισραηλινές ένοπλες δυνάμεις να πρέπει να βρίσκονται σε πλήρη ετοιμότητα στα βόρεια σύνορα και η αντιμετώπισης των πυρηνικών φιλοδοξιών του Ιράν.
Αυτό όμως δε σημαίνει ότι το Ισραήλ δεν έχει ρόλο στην ισορροπία των δυνάμεων στην περιοχής. Υπάρχουν πολλοί τομείς στους οποίους μπορεί να σταθεί δίπλα στην Ελλάδα (και στους άλλους εταίρους στο EMGF, με τη Γαλλία μαζί που έχει ζητήσει να συμμετάσχει, παίζοντας έναν στρατηγικό ρόλο, ακόμα και εάν η Ιταλία δείξει σημάδια ότι χάνει ενδιαφέρον)”.
- Το Ισραήλ, συνεχίζει, μπορεί να βοηθήσει στον τομέα των πληροφοριών (intelligence),με την εμβάθυνση της συνεργασίας με την Ελλάδα (και τη συνεχιζόμενη συνεργασία της με την Αίγυπτο), που αποτελεί θεμελιώδη τομέα στην προετοιμασία αντιμετώπισης των τουρκικών προκλήσεων.
Επίσης, (μπορεί να βοηθήσει), λέει, στον τομέα στρατιωτικής συνεργασίας και ασφαλείας, με κοινές δράσεις, κοινές στρατιωτικές ασκήσεις ( σε συνεργασία και με τις αμερικανικές δυνάμεις), καθώς επίσης μπορεί να βοηθήσει μέσω της συνεργασίας σε θέματα R&D, με έμφαση στην ενδυνάμωση των δεσμών για τη διατήρηση της ισορροπίας ισχύος στην περιοχή, στη θάλασσα και των δύο χωρών. Σε κάθε περίπτωση, το ισραηλινό πολεμικό ναυτικό θα πρέπει να ενισχυθεί απέναντι στο τουρκικό, ο Ισραηλινός στρατηγός.
Όσον αφορά στην αμερικανική αρένα, το ισραηλινό και το ελληνικό λόμπι, θα μπορούσαν να παίξουν σημαντικό ρόλο ώστε να επηρεάσουν τον Αμερικανό πρόεδρο και τη διοίκησή του για να εμποδίσουν τα σχέδια του Erdogan.
Παραθέτουμε το κείμενο στα αγγλικά (μετάφραση από τα εβραϊκά)
Even if the conflicts in the eastern Mediterranean escalate to the point of deteriorating towards a military conflict, Israel will not be able to be directly involved in the fighting. It can, however, help strengthen intelligence cooperation, security procurement, and especially political action in Washington, which will determine Erdogan’s level of daring and aspirations.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his ministers with their counterparts in Israel is of strategic importance above and beyond the issues of the corona and tourism that have been the focus of media coverage. In the weeks since, the severity of the challenge facing Israel and its partners in the eastern Mediterranean – Greece, Cyprus, as well as Egypt – has only sharpened in the face of unbridled Turkish conduct.
On the ideological and political level, since the ruling party was humiliated in the Istanbul City Council elections in the summer of 2019, Erdogan has been working to place at the center the nationalist-Islamist agenda, which has also been stung against Israel – as evidenced by . At the geo-strategic (and economic) level, the struggle focuses on outlining the demarcation map of the economic waters in the eastern Mediterranean – an issue of heavy significance to Israel, which also involves Turkish military intervention in Libya, And now it raises fears of a military clash around economic activity (energy exploration) near the shores of Crete.
For obvious reasons – and above all, the Iranian and northern challenge facing us these very days – Israel prefers not to be an active military partner in preparing possible confrontation descriptions alongside Greece (or Egypt). It can, however, help strengthen intelligence cooperation, security procurement, and especially political action at the “Archimedean Point” in Washington, which will determine Erdogan’s level of daring and aspirations.
The intergovernmental meeting
Israel and Greece marked (May 21, 2020) the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between them, including a solemn joint announcement by President Reuven Rivlin and his counterpart (whose role is also largely symbolic) Katrina Saclaropoulos, and a toast to Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Kyriakos Mitsutak.
Their statements marked the sharp turning point in relations, compared to the first decades of the state’s existence (during which Greece clearly preferred its interests in the Arab world – it even voted in 1947 against the establishment of the state).
Following this – and as an illustration of this turning point – Israel (June 16), attended the fourth intergovernmental meeting (G2G) in the quorum between the two countries, and the only one of its kind in the Corona era (even criticized for its conduct in these circumstances), Mitsotakis, with his wife and son, and six ministers In his government: Defense Minister Nicolaus Panayotopoulos; Foreign Minister Nikos Dandias; Minister of Energy and the Environment Kostis Khatsidakis; Minister of Investment and Development Adonis Georgiadis; Tourism Minister Harris Theoharis and State Minister for Digital and Cyber Governance Kiriakos Pirakakis.
As the joint announcement shows, we will discuss between the parallel ministers a variety of growing cooperation between the two countries (as well as in the Israel-Greece-Cyprus triangle) in the field of health, whose importance cannot be overstated today (Greek Health Minister Vasilis Kikillias But should come for a separate visit), as well as on energy, the environment, “smart cities”, agriculture development (with an emphasis on aquaculture), investment encouragement, with an emphasis on research and development, and cyber protection.
Under the circumstances of the event, media attention – given the thirst of the Israeli public, in the Corona era, to the possibility of leaving the country – focused on tourism and aviation issues, and coverage focused on announcing Greece’s intention to resume flights in early August 2020. The discussion, with an emphasis on defense and foreign policy, clearly shows that at the strategic level, the focus of the intergovernmental meeting was on the aspects arising from the growing challenge posed by the current policy of Turkish President Erdogan.
The Turkish challenge and its consequences
The paragraph, which deals with talks between foreign ministers, Ashkenazi and Dandias, lists important issues raised, such as Greece’s role in the fight against anti-Semitism (including the IHRA definition, which denies that Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism), and its support for Israel’s EU positions. “Horizon” program.
At the same time, she also listed – at the outset – the discussion that took place on the regional situation, and specifically, in Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. With the exception of Lebanon, where the involvement is Iranian, all the rest are arenas in which both Iran and Turkey are stirring in the cauldron, whose strategic ambitions cast their shadow over the future of the eastern Mediterranean (in a journalistic article on Turkish activity recently, Institute researcher ).
The joint statement also states that Israel and Greece “call for respect for the sovereign rights of all countries on their land shelf and in economic waters in accordance with customary international maritime law. “It contradicts the existence of good neighborly relations. The two countries will continue to coordinate their policies.”
Even if Turkey, or Erdogan, is not explicitly mentioned, it is clear that this is primarily aimed at the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Turks with the Government of National Accord (GNA) ruling West Libya (Tripolitania), in November 2019. The memorandum (whose full details remain confidential) outlines a map of division Economic waters in the eastern Mediterranean so that Libya will have a common maritime border with Turkey’s economic waters, and Egypt will have no common border with Greece;
A map that is possible only if one ignores altogether – among other things – the rights of Greece in the area of the island of Crete. At the same time, Erdogan is hinting at the possibility of reopening the question of the route of the border in the Aegean Sea with Greece.
In the weeks since the intergovernmental meeting, the situation has only worsened: against the backdrop of Turkey’s intentions to conduct energy exploration near Crete – in areas it claims to belong to – belligerent statements and mutual warnings were heard from senior Turkish and Greek officers. Despite the (difficult) memories left by the conflict in Cyprus in 1974, the possibility of a war between the two NATO member states has for years been seen as a delusional idea, but in the current circumstances it is a possibility that cannot be ruled out.
Although the Greek foreign minister has expressed a willingness to negotiate in good faith and without preconditions with Turkey on the demarcation of economic waters, Erdogan has no reason to compromise at this stage. This is against the background of the military achievements of the “National Consensus Government” in western Libya. GNA forces, backed by Turkish military intervention, repulsed Khaftar’s “Libyan National Army” and broke the siege imposed on Tripoli;
At least in theory, the Faiz Sarag government in Tripoli now has the ability to implement the agreement with Turkey without compromise, unless Egypt’s counter-military intervention turns the bowl on its head.
Another element that contributes to rising tensions and undermining regional stability is the series of provocative steps Erdogan is taking in the morning news in an attempt to re-establish the political and ideological hegemony of his Islamist party, the AKP (and his National Party partners, the MHP): , And are AKP personalities who retired due to a personal rift with him.
His decision to comply with a Turkish court ruling to convert the Aya Sophia church in Istanbul to a mosque has recently resonated worldwide. The sting of this policy is directed, among other things, towards Israel, judging by the frequent link in Turkey between this step and the vision of “liberating” al-Aqsa.
Involvement of other power factors
In the battle against Turkish aspirations in the eastern Mediterranean, Kedera is stirring up additional regional and powerful factors that have an impact on the balance of power (and Israel’s positions should take their involvement into account):
- For Egypt , which is under double pressure – against Ethiopia on the issue of the dam, and with those perceived in its eyes as a threat identified with the Muslim Brotherhood movement on the Libyan front – this is an issue of existential significance for the regime. Sisi’s warning about a “red line” in central Libya – a boat area – creates, at least in theory, the possibility of a frontal clash between Egypt and Turkey. Greece fully supports Egypt’s political moves in Libya, but it is doubtful it will be able to intervene in a military confrontation.
- France consistently coordinates its moves with Greece and provides backing for its positions. It does not hide its support for Khaftar’s LNA forces and its displeasure with Turkey’s policies, to the point of a visible rift in NATO ranks and verbal exchanges between Macron and Erdogan. ‘, Its ability to influence the course of events remains limited.
- Despite its intense top-level dialogue with Turkey (and Iran) on the future of Syria, Russia sympathizes with religious and historical reasons for Greece and Cyprus, and is mostly directly involved (mostly through mercenaries directly affiliated with the Kremlin, but probably also with direct air support) in the campaign against Turkey. In Libya, out of an interest in controlling the country’s oil zones (from which they were expelled after the American and European intervention against Gaddafi in 2011), as well as out of deep hostility to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a dominant factor in the Tripoli government.
- Italy , on the other hand, recently breaks the unity of the ranks of the member states of the EMGF (Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum) and shows sympathy for the Sarag regime in Tripoli; Its conduct disrupts the “Irini” operation of the European Union, which is intended to enforce the ban on arms transfers to Libya, and makes it difficult to formulate a uniform political position.
Of paramount importance, in these circumstances, is the U.S. position – which has already been shown in other contexts to have the ability to exercise effective leverage over Erdogan (current National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has previously been involved in his role as special presidential envoy for hostages). Pressure on Turkey that led to the release of Rev. Andrew Branson) .However, President Trump fluctuates, in his attitude toward Turkey, between extremes: personal contact with Erdogan on the one hand, and crude and blatant warnings on the other; Warning against the push of Turkey into the arms of Russia.
The Congress has a broader resonance with Greece’s positions, and this has been reflected in recent legislative moves, including the renewal of the option of military assistance (albeit largely symbolic) to Cyprus. The US Embassy in Nicosia has announced (July 8, 2020) that the administration will include Cyprus starting next year in the IMET military training program – International Military Education and Training, subject to final approval of the 2021 budget; Still examining the implementation of the legislative elements relating to the removal of the arms embargo on Cyprus.
What should Israel do?
Even if the conflicts in the eastern Mediterranean escalate to the point of deteriorating towards a military conflict, Israel will not be able to be directly involved in the fighting, neither alongside Greece or Cyprus nor alongside Egypt in Libya. Fairness must make this clear in advance. First and foremost, the IDF must now be prepared to the best of its ability for a struggle that could easily lead to a flare-up on the northern front, with Iran and its nuclear ambitions, for all its possible ramifications.
This does not mean that Israel has no role in the balance of power. There are a number of areas where it can and should stand side by side with Greece (and its other partners in the EMGF, with France, which has sought to join the forum, playing a strategic role, even if Italy shows signs of losing ground).
- In the intelligence dimension – the changing reality in the eastern Mediterranean requires adjustments in the IDF (indication of important news, the directive that determines the agenda of the gathering factors) in the allocation of resources and even in the structure of the intelligence community, even if the Iranian threat and the Palestinian community must remain a priority Deepening cooperation with Greece in this area (and continuing intelligence cooperation with Egypt) are essential elements in properly preparing for the challenge posed by Turkey.
- In the aspects of security cooperation – for joint activities, with an emphasis on exercises of the Air Force and the Navy (and even more so, in combination with American forces), as well as procurement and R&D issues, there is emphasis on both strengthening ties and maintaining the regional balance of power. To the sea of the two countries. Despite the clear and obvious limitation mentioned above, all of these still have a deterrent effect. In any case, the Israeli navy needs to be strengthened in the face of Turkish naval armament.
- In the face of the American arena, the Trump administration’s positions, on the one hand, and congressional legislation, on the other, could be the “Archimedean point” that would bring about a change in Turkish conduct and block Erdogan’s dangerous aspirations. Israel and Greece, with the active and integrated assistance of the scattered communities of the two peoples (in the United States, and not only in it) can play a formative political role in this issue, and beautiful one hour earlier.