Media reports and my previous blogs have documented that Turkey has been steadily abandoning its once close relationship with the Israelis. This is a worrisome trend as Turkey has a large army, a strategic location, and is an Islamic NATO nation. Turkey’s current leader seems distressingly comfortable with more radical Islamic nations and he also seems to be gradually pulling Turkey away from its secular foundations established by Kamal Ataturk.
However, while Turkey is now giving the cold shoulder to the Israelis, the NATO nation of Greece has moved into a closer relationship with Israel. This actually should surprise no one. Turkey and Greece have been historic rivals for a long time. Greece has a Christian heritage and Turkey an Islamic one. These nations have fought wars against each other when Turkey was called the Ottoman Empire. I believe it was Western planners’ idea to put both these nations into the NATO alliance after World War II in order to keep them from fighting each other. Therefore, it should surprise no one that Greece has enthusiastically moved into the void created by Turkey’s chill toward the Israelis.
The head of the Greek Navy recently concluded a formal visit to Israel (see first link). While there, he was given the “red carpet” treatment “which the Israel Defense Force high command rarely gives foreign military visitors.” In a very remarkable step, the Greek admiral was given a tour of Israeli Naval headquarters in Haifa, and was even given a personal tour of one of the ultra-secret, German-made Israeli submarines which are widely regarded as having the capacity to launch nuclear cruise missiles. Having a foreign military leader tour one of its top-secret strategic submarines is a signal to the world that the Israeli-Greek alliance is becoming a strong one. This is not the first example of warming Greek-Israeli military ties. In 2008, the Israeli Air Force flew a very large force of 100 warplanes from Israeli air bases to Greece and back as practice for a long-distance mission to Iran in case such an attack becomes necessary. The second link below reports on the warming Israeli-Greek alliance from a Greek media source.
The Greek-Israeli alliance is a logical one for both nations. As the USA continues to weaken itself militarily and economically, the NATO alliance itself becomes steadily less cohesive. Some of its nations are being forced to prepare “back-up plans” for new alliances if NATO should ever dissolve. If NATO disintegrates or if Turkey leaves it, Greece will need a strong alliance with a local nuclear power to balance its strategic position vis-à-vis Turkey. Israel is its logical nuclear ally. The Israelis very much need Greece as an ally if Turkey continues its increasingly hostile attitude toward the Israelis. Greece is on Turkey’s flank, and Turkey cannot ignore its flank if it becomes openly hostile to Israel in the future. Turkey has been cozying up to both Iran and Syria recently, and that is a worrisome trend. If Turkey becomes hostile toward Israel, Greece has made it very clear that it will be a willing ally of the Israelis.