Athens and Riyadh have reportedly agreed on the deployment of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles of the Hellenic Air Force in Saudi Arabia.
Technical details relating to the transportation of the missiles, their deployment, cost and operational responsibility remain to be ironed out for the agreement’s conclusion.
According to sources, the deal follows the agreement of the foreign ministries of Greece and Saudi Arabia a few weeks ago to boost the latter’s air defense in light of the recent strikes against the facilities of the state-owned Aramco oil company.
It is also seen as a result of Washington’s pressure on Athens for a Greek presence in the Persian Gulf. Greece had twice responded negatively to previous American requests to send a frigate to join a naval force in the region under US leadership.
Greek authorities note that the agreement between Athens and Riyadh predates the crisis between Washington and Tehran over the assassination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by the US military.
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu signaled in a speech outlining Turkey’s foreign policy on Wednesday that Ankara is ready to sign a memorandum on sea borders with Athens similar to the one it has signed with the Tripoli-based government in Libya.
He set as a condition that Turkey not be excluded from the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, hinting at the EastMed pipeline agreement signed between Greece, Israel and Cyprus.
His remarks were seen in Athens as an effort to defuse recent tensions in the region.
At the same time, the Times of Israel said that the counterintelligence unit of the country’s armed forces has included Turkey for the first time in a list of countries considered as a threat to the security of Israel.
Israeli services did not refer to a specific threat from Turkey, but to the policies of its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling AKP’s close relations with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The reports came on the heels of extensive media coverage in Turkey about a possible strengthening of Turkish-Israeli relations should Benjamin Netanyahu lose the March elections.