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Re: ANALYSIS FOR EDIT - ISRAEL/GREECE/TURKEY - Aegean Sea is an amazing place to be

Released on 2012-03-10 18:00 GMT

Email-ID 1743494
Date 2010-08-16 18:41:46
please cc Marko for F/C. I'll have dinner and I may not be able to do it


From: "Robert Inks"
To: "Writers" , "Emre Dogru"

Sent: Monday, August 16, 2010 6:57:02 PM
amazing place to be

Got it.

On 8/16/2010 10:53 AM, Emre Dogru wrote:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has kicked off his three-day
long trip to Greece August 16 to hold talks with Greek Prime Minister
George Papandreou. Netanyahua**s visit a** the first ever visit by an
Israeli Prime Minister a** comes shortly after Papandreou visited Israel
on July 23, where the two leaders vowed to boost ties between their
countries and which was in its own right a historic visit, being the
first time in 18 years that a Greek PM visited Israel. Both visits come
as Israeli relationship with Turkey is deteriorating and on the heels of
a Greek economic crisis that has made it evidently clear to Athens that
it can no longer face down Ankara in the Aegean alone

Turkey a** Israeli relations have been deteriorating ever since Israeli
military intervention into Gaza in early January 2008, which broke off
Turkey-mediated peace talks between Israel and Syria. Relations suffered
a major hit when Israeli Defense Forces raided a Turkish NGO-led aid
flotilla bound to break the Gaza siege and killed nine Turkish nationals
on May 31 [LINK].
While there have been efforts to mend the ties (LINK:
since then, Israel seems to be pursuing a strategy to distract
Turkeya**s attention and divert its efforts to emerge as a regional
power away from the Middle East in an attempt undermine increasing
Turkish influence in the region.

In this case, Greece is a perfect tool for Israel. Greece has long been
Turkeya**s main rival, a competition which predates the Cold War. The
two countries have managed to maintain a balance of power (which
constitutes NATOa**s southeastern flank) until recently. However, as
Greece has suffered economically -- and as Turkey establishes itself as
the rising power in the region (LINK:
-- Athens has become far less of a threatening factor to Turkey's
national security. For both Turkey and Greece the main point of
contention is the Aegean sea, which is crucial for Greek control of its
own mainland and thousands of islands. But to exert sovereignty over the
sea, Greece has had to build up one of the most advanced air forces on
the continent, a costly affair for a country of 10 million even when not
facing a sovereign debt crisis of Herculean proportions. Greece has
therefore attempted to offer a controlled draw down of forces to Turkey
as a strategy the two can pursue to reduce tensions, but were largely
rebuffed by Ankara not so much because Turkey still considers Greece a
threat as much as because Turkey cannot draw down its forces when it is
looking to expand influence in the Caucuses, Balkans and the Middle

Therefore, it is the effect that it will have on Turkey that makes
warming relations beneficial for both Israel and Greece. This is a
change in political reality because Athens was a voiciferously pro-Arab
state throughout the Cold War, with many PLO members finding refuge in
Athens. Greece opposed Israel for two main reasons, first it was
suspicious of the Turkish-Israeli alliance and second it did not want to
find itself isolated from Arab energy exports during the Cold War. But
with the Turkish-Israeli alliance -- which has been a mainstay of Middle
Eastern balance of power for decades -- weakening, Athens sees a chance
to send a message to Turkey. Israel, is hoping that Turkey would be
concerned about an assertive Greece on its western border, while Athens
wants to show Turkey that it has options to maintain the balance in
Aegean. Reports alleging Greece will allow Israeli jet fighters to use
its air space for training a** something that Turkey provided to Israel
before a** could be a sign of such an understanding, as it could
increase military plane dog fights over Aegean.

However, Greece as an ally, has no means a substitute for Turkey from an
Israeli point of view as it has no influence a** except for its EU
membership and history of diplomatic support for Arab states - in the
Middle East, which could bring value to Israela**s decision-making.
Moreover, military cooperation between the two countries is not
unprecedented. In the summer of 2008 the Israeli Air Force held what was
called a "dress rehearsal" for an Israeli attack on Iran over Greek
waters. The diplomatic move therefore comes down to sending a message to
Turkey, both for Greece and Israel. Israel is sending a message to its
embittered old-ally Turkey by offering a role to Greece, for which
Greece is happy to play for given its pressuring circumstances. However,
with Turkey trying to manuver itself into a leadership role in the
Middle East, Israel's priorities overlapping with those of turkey in the
Mideast and Greece too weak to pose a credible threat to turkey, it will
take a lot more than flirtation between Israel and Greece to motivate it
to change its current course.

Emre Dogru

Cell: +90.532.465.7514
Fixed: +1.512.279.9468

Emre Dogru
Cell: +90.532.465.7514
Fixed: +1.512.279.9468