Tensions Rise Between Turkey and Israeli Allies Off Of Israel’s Coast

by Micha Gefen

Turkey is actively threatening Israel’s allies in the EU, Greece and Cyprus if its President Erdogan does not get a deal that he believes benefits Turkey.

The disputed Eastern Mediterranean has long been a source of tensions between Turkey and Greece. They fought a war over Cyprus and are now vying for control over the resource rich Eastern Mediterranean. Like Israel, who has capitalized over its Leviathan Gas field, Cyprus and Greece both have similar finds.

“In the eastern Mediterranean issue, our country never sides with tension, but with peace, cooperation, fairness and implementing justice. The path to this goes through negotiations based on mutual respect,” Turkey’s leader Erdogan said, repeating a call for a conference that involves all actors in the region.

However, Turkey would not allow a “pirate mentality” shown by other countries to restrict it to a narrow strip of coastal water. “We will not bow down to threats and blackmail… We will not allow imperialist expansionism,” he said.

The EU has called to sanction Turkey over Erdogan’s visit to the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state of Northern Cyprus – which is recognized only by Ankara as well as over the Turkish naval operations in the eastern Mediterranean, which the European Union called illegal.

East Med Pipeline Is Real Source Of Conflict

The planned East Med Gas Pipeline To Europe from Israel to Cyprus and Greece is the real source for Erdogan’s angst on the forming alliance between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece. By creating an alternative energy route for Europe, the East Med Alliance can offset the EU’s reliance on Erdogan, putting him at a disadvantage.

With Israel as the main defensive partner in the alliance, any conflict risks bringing Jerusalem in. Turkey knows this and wants to break the alliance before it has a chance to reshape the region. Furthermore, Turkey is threatened by the inclusion of the UAE into the growing Greece-Cyprus-Israel alliance and sees Jerusalem’s role as a growing regional power becoming a fait accompli.

Like the Kurds, Erdogan views Israel as an impediment to reestablishing Turkey as the regional overlord and global superpower. His moves in the Eastern Mediterranean, although running the risk of sparking a war, is part of his initial push back against Israeli regional dominance.

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