NEWS

New security alliance seen in offing in East Med, Mideast

VASSILIS NEDOS

TAGS: Security, Diplomacy, Cyprus, US

A new security alliance, also involving US participation, appears to be in the offing in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, according to analysts. A security structure of this sort would most likely rely on the trilateral partnerships that Greece and Cyprus have in recent years forged with Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

Developments are seen linked to Washington’s efforts to bolster Europe’s energy security through the diversification of supply routes.

The chances of the US-inspired plan materializing will be assessed during two key summits taking place next month: Leaders from Greece, Cyprus and Jordan will meet in Nicosia on December 19. The following day, a meeting between Greek, Cypriot and Israeli leaders will be held in Jerusalem.

Should the scenario materialize, the US is likely to be represented by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell, an advocate of supporting Eastern European countries – what he calls “frontier states,” that function as a bulwark against Russian influence.

Greek officials will have an opportunity to gauge American intentions before the trilateral meetings as December 13 sees the launch of the so-called US-Greek Strategic Dialogue in Washington. The event is seen as crucial, as the two NATO allies will, for the first time, discuss key areas of cooperation – mainly security and energy issues – under a joint institutional umbrella.

Athens is keen to deepen a relationship that could offer greater protection against future challenges to territorial sovereignty and maritime rights amid regional antagonism over energy resources. Washington on the other hand, clearly aspires to closer military cooperation.

Meanwhile, the recent visit by Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides to the US – where he held talks with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo and other senior officials – confirmed that Washington acknowledges Cyprus’s strategic significance in the Eastern Mediterranean, also in relation to EU energy diversification.

US oil giant ExxonMobil is expected to start drilling by the end of the week in block 10 of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and Washington is naturally expected to back the interests of American companies. It remains to be seen whether it will also take steps toward lifting the arms embargo on the Mediterranean island.

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