Uncertain of US intentions, four allies exercise their naval muscle | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Uncertain of US intentions, four allies exercise their naval muscle

This month, France and Cyprus for the first time joined Israel and Greece in a combined naval exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean and Cretan Sea. French participation was notable in that it marked yet another step in its growing naval cooperation with Israel.

This month’s exercise, entitled “Noble Dina,” took place off Cyprus and involved not only counterterrorism, search and rescue and anti-submarine drills, but also a simulated sea battle. As the Israeli military spokesman confirmed, the focus was “not only on surface exercises, but also multi-threat exercise of air and underwater and surface threats.”

There is no mistaking which country is the source of those “challenges and threats.” Each of the four states involved in the exercise has clashed with Turkey in the recent past. In the case of Israel, Greece and Cyprus, friction with Ankara is a result of competing claims to gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Noble Dina did not include American naval forces. It is true that the Sixth Fleet trains with units from all four countries. Each of the four countries has its own reasons for hedging against Washington’s potential lack of support. Greece and Cyprus recall that Washington did little to prevent Turkish occupation of Cyprus in 1974, even though 10 years earlier, former President Lyndon Johnson had threatened Turkey that if it landed troops on Cyprus, the U.S. would not intervene in a Soviet invasion of Turkey.

Israelis fear that growing hostility from the Democratic Party’s base would hinder any attempt by the Biden administration to involve itself in an Israeli military confrontation with Turkey. Indeed, as the recent Reagan Institute Annual Defense Survey indicates, no less than 30 percent of those polled do not see Israel as an ally, and 16 percent actually consider it to be an enemy. That White House spokesperson Jen Psaki has demurred from calling Israel an important ally only reinforces the credibility both of the Reagan Institute poll and Jerusalem’s concerns about American reliability.