Some Alliances Splintering, Others Reforming… Times: Eastern Med Tensions coming to the Boil

The Times, the British newspaper, has described the situation in the eastern Mediterranean region as a fire under ashes, and that it is coming to the boil as a result of today’s multiple conflicts — the scramble for undersea gas deposits, the growing stress of a new migration wave, a shake-up of military alignments, the instability of Lebanon, the open scars of Syria, the ancient feuds between Greece and Turkey — all add up to a secret roar, a civilizational hotspot that is coming to the boil.

The newspaper’s editor for diplomatic affairs, Roger Boyes, has said that the European Union chose to turn a blind eye to the aforementioned events. That changed a few weeks ago when Emmanuel Macron, the French President, sold 3 new war frigates to Greece, a move that will shift the balance of power between the Greek and Turkish navy. Roger specifies that the French arms deal with Greece was not limited to frigates, but rather included two dozen Rafale warplanes that Greece had already requested. The deal also includes a mutual defense clause whereby both the French and Greek parties agree to defend each other if a third party attacked one of them.

Roger Boys points out that there is an alliance against Turkey that has taken shape in the region. It includes France, Greece, Israel and other countries. The writer draws attention that America’s abrupt retreat from Afghanistan has prompted the smaller countries in NATO to question the extent of Washington’s commitment, especially since even in better days, NATO and the US were notably unwilling to get involved in a spat between two neighbouring allies.

The Times considered that the world is now witnessing accelerating splintering and reforming of alliances, and that Macron’s policies are not limited to his deal with Greece only. However, his policies may end up magnifying dissent in Nato which he has already called brain-dead and a distaste for American leadership of any kind.

Boys opines that there are no vacuums in a world full of predatory autocrats. If the European Union lacks the will to press for a settlement between Turkey and Greece on Cyprus, it will inhabit a strange limbo with Turkey calling the shots in the north of the island and Russians using the banking system to wash and hide their assets. He stresses that at the same time, If the US treats Syria as someone else’s problem, Russia will run the country as a client state.

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