In an article in newsweek.com, Charles Wald and Michael Makovsky maintain that the redrawing of the geo-strategic map in the Middle East and Erdogan’s haphazard entanglement with radical Islam and extremism, as well as a new energy map, show that Greece is emerging as Washington’w key ally and bulwark in the region.
Tectonic shifts are underway in the Eastern Mediterranean. Some pose growing threats to American interests and allies, others offer new prospects for stability and prosperity. Washington now must develop a coherent regional strategy that addresses these challenges and capitalizes on these opportunities.
The primary driver of change in the region has been Turkey’s aggressive strategic posture. Once a reliable U.S. ally, Turkey under President Erdoğan increasingly diverges from, and often directly opposes, American interests. This is by no means limited to the Eastern Mediterranean, but it is particularly acute here.
Ideologically aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, Erdoğan sought unsuccessfully during and after the 2011 Arab upheavals to build a Muslim Brotherhood sphere of influence in Egypt and elsewhere. Erdogan allowed jihadists to flood Syria and refugees to flee into Europe. He has attacked our Kurdish allies in Syria and even threatened the lives of American soldiers fighting alongside them against ISIS.
Also, Turkey has severed its longstanding strategic link to Israel that helped form the bedrock of regional stability. It actively works to undermine Israel’s security, supporting radical Islamist groups in Syria, Gaza, Egypt and Libya. It is also moving closer to Moscow—including agreeing to buy advanced Russian S-400 air defense systems—and Tehran, while becoming more antagonistic toward Greece in the Aegean Sea and Egypt and Cyprus in the Mediterranean.
Simultaneously, Russian and Iranian inroads are bringing great power competition to the Eastern Mediterranean. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union did not challenge America’s naval superiority here. But President Putin is using Russia’s permanent naval base in Syria to do just that, as well as establishing an anti-access/air denial exclusion zone covering much of the region. The Eastern Mediterranean is no longer uncontested operating environments for the U.S. military.
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