The Israeli and Greek navies along with the U.S. Sixth Fleet are busy conducting large scale exercises in the Mediterranean in what the Greek media is describing as a message to Turkey. While drills meant to simulate protecting offshore gas platforms does not at first glance seem like it should be particularly relevant to Turkey, the exercise is effectively a carbon copy of the annual naval drills that the U.S. and Israel used to conduct with the Turkish navy until canceling them in 2009. Inviting Greece to join in Turkey’s place is a poke in the eye for Ankara, which views Greece as a natural and historic rival, and it surely is making the Turks even more furious that the enemies in the joint exercise deliberately resemble the Turkish air force.
On the Turkish side of things, Erdoğan spent the day loudly drawing a public contrast between the Israeli nuclear arsenal and what he says is the peaceful Iranian nuclear program. He expressed his view that nobody focuses on Israel’s 250-300 warheads, while Iran is being threatened with military action despite their desire to go no further than producing some enriched uranium rods, and that the West’s shielding of Israel is a hypocritical double standard. While in Iran on Friday, he and Davutoğlu also reiterated that the NATO X-Band radar deployed in Turkey is not aimed at containing Iran, and that Turkey would pull out of the agreement to host it within six months if the data collected by the radar system is shared with Israel. Naturally, none of this is going to reassure Israel, or move it any closer to trying to resolve its differences with Turkey, nor will any of this – including the Israeli-Greek naval exercises – provide the impetus for resumed Israeli-Turkish military cooperation, which is seen as the hook that will eventually move the two countries closer together.