By cooperating to advance shared interests, the troika of Greece, Israel, and Cyprus can make an enormous contribution to regional security. To demonstrate this, consider the late May visit by US Congressman Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to Cyprus. After meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Engel said: “I’m excited about the prospect of our ally Israel working with Cyprus. I think we have an opportunity for peace and cooperation as never before.” Engel seeks, from the US perspective, to constrain the actions of Russian president Vladimir Putin in the Eastern Mediterranean. Moscow’s geopolitical strategy has been to align itself with the Syrian and Iranian regimes, and to strengthen ties with Turkey via military sales.
All of this helps to explain why there is a natural − and pressing − need for the democracies of Greece, Israel, and Cyprus to forge a close, robust alliance. Engel clearly jumped into the future when he said in Cyprus that he wants to advance relations with countries that favor the liberal, democratic Western order. He added that the Russian government is engaged in “malevolent machinations.”
The slated sale of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey’s Islamist president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan only serves to strengthen the need for a strong security bond among Israel, Greece, and Cyprus. Turkey’s Islamic political system is a serious threat to the troika of democracies in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Benjamin Weinthal, Research Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Washington DC.