U.S. should address security challenges in eastern Mediterranean - analysts

The United States should address security challenges in the eastern Mediterranean, three foreign policy analysts for the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) said.

“This entails difficult trade-offs to allocate limited resources among competing objectives, especially as Washington must also deal with uncertainties about future defence spending and the value of U.S. commitments post-Afghanistan,” former U.S. ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman, retired U.S. General Charles Wald and Jonathan Ruhe, a director of JINSA, wrote for Defense News on Sunday.

“No silver bullet solves this problem, yet Washington can kill multiple birds with one stone,” the analysts said.

A dispute over hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean has triggered a surge in political tensions between Turkey, Greece and other regional powers. Turkey's stance is being challenged by a bloc comprising Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel. US. President Joe Biden has vocally opposed Turkey’s drilling activities in the region.

As a geostrategic link between Europe, Africa and the Middle East, “the eastern Mediterranean is becoming a crucial arena for expansionist forces seeking to undermine U.S. interests”, the analysts said.

Most notably, “Turkey is playing out on all three continents and among the waters in between, where Ankara threatens peaceful development of some of the world’s largest recent energy finds by U.S. partners Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt,” they said.

Russia, China and Iran are also expanding into the region, the analysts said, adding that “America’s current regional force posture struggles to address these challenges”.

“The United States can mitigate the problematic effects of this broader retrenchment and compensate for drawdowns in adjacent regions by re-envisioning the eastern Mediterranean as a multi-theatre power projection platform,” they said.

“This will require modest enhancement to U.S. force presence. From a few strategic locations in the region, U.S. ground, air and naval assets could rotate or rapidly deploy into nearby Eastern Europe, the Black Sea, the Middle East, the Red Sea, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.”

Washington should deepen engagement with evolving diplomatic coalitions, which, while anchored in the eastern Mediterranean, increasingly overlap with neighbouring security architectures, they said.

“By ensuring continued U.S. power projection even amid larger drawdowns and uncertainties, these steps can help simplify American strategists’ unenviable task of putting the correct number of troops in the correct places.”

 

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