Israel, the United States and Greece conduct Noble Dina drill in the Mediterranean
In the first week of April 2012, Israel, the United States and Greece conducted the “Noble Dina” drill on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea. Led by the U.S. Sixth Fleet, Noble Dina involves simulations of combat against submarines, air battles and protection of offshore natural gas platforms. This comes shortly after February, when Israel and Cyprus consolidated a military alliance aimed at securing control of the large gas fields recently discovered in the seabed between the two countries. Turkey, Lebanon, and Northern Cyprus had consolidated a counterweight alliance. Now Greece—a leading world player in oil transport—is taking sides.
American Message to Turkey
Meteora, Greece — Hanging Alliances
Noble Dina is less innocent than it looks. Until 2009, Israel’s Navy, the U.S. Sixth Fleet and the Turkish Navy conducted a yearly exercise called “Reliant Mermaid.” This drill was cancelled since 2010, and all military cooperation between Turkey and Israel was frozen following the deterioration in the relations between these two former allies, especially after the Freedom Flotilla Affair. This year, Greece was invited to participate in the renewed drill, which was renamed Noble Dina. By accepting, Greece informally announced its joining the Israeli alliance. According to Greek reports, the exercise began on March 26 at an American military base in Crete. Participating in the exercise are a Greek navy destroyer and submarine, an Israeli Navy sailing vessel and several U.S. Sixth Fleet battleships, supported by Israeli, Greek and American fighter jets and helicopters. Part of the exercise will take place off the coast of Turkey, near the Greek island Mais and will continue off the southern coast of Cyprus before concluding in Haifa’s port on April 5. The enemy forces will have characteristics similar to those of the Turkish air force. The drill is a not very subtle message to Turkey.
This substantial change in the Eastern Mediterranean alliances supports changes that took place in the last two decades. Traditionally, Greece supported the Palestinians against Israel. Only in 1990 the two countries upgraded their relations to the status of embassies, and shortly after a limited defense agreement was signed between the two countries. In October 2010, following the deterioration in the relations between Turkey and Israel, the Israeli and Greek air-forces trained jointly in Greece, signaling that things began to warm up significantly between these two countries. The ongoing Noble Dina drill is cementing their defense agreement and clearly aiming it at Turkey.
The New Alliances
Turkey is not watching the developments statically; its cooperation with Lebanon and Northern Cyprus on the issue of the gas fields was announced recently. They consider the exploitation of the findings by Israel (see Greece’s Fadeaway: Iran and Israel Battle over Cyprus and Gas, Oil … Uranium) as a casus belli event. On September 5, 2011, Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansor, sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, rejecting Israeli claims on the maritime border between the two countries. Lebanon has warned that it will go to war to defend its claim to the gas fields. Iran is clearly supporting Lebanon in several ways and has delivered supporting statements on Lebanese ownership of some of the gas fields. Turkey has announced that it would not allow underwater drills in Cypriot waters, clearly citing military preventative actions. The Turkish intervention is the result of Cyprus being divided between the Republic of Cyprus in the south and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
In November 2011, Cyprus announced it would explore its undersea natural gas wells in cooperation with Israel; this was the trigger for Netanyahu’s visit to the island in February. The agreements announced between the countries—including military ones—indicate that Israel has shifted its main ally in the area from Turkey to Cyprus. This alliance is supported by an Israeli ally sitting on the backlines of Turkey and Iran: Azerbaijan (see Azerbaijan-Israel: A Shia—Jewish Alliance). This country can provide logistic support in case of a war, as well as being an oil source. Semi-independent Kurdistan may become a relevant member of this alliance under certain circumstances. Now, Greece is on. And Greece means NATO.
Thus, two clear bands had been created around the gas field issue: Turkey-Lebanon-Northern Cyprus-(Iran), and Israel-Cyprus-Greece-(Azerbaijan). Which band is supported by NATO? If violence erupts during the London Olympic Games, the latter will have no spectators. These two alliances at war will win any new version of the Roman Coliseum or Greek Olympics. Especially since lions are not used anymore in sport events.
Oil greed drives the West. We are reminded of that time and again with every attack staged by NATO; the most recent example is Libya (see NATO’s Terror Marshals). United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 was adopted on March 17, 2011; it formed the alleged legal basis for the NATO attacks on Libya. The resolution authorized the international community to establish a no-fly zone and to use all means necessary short of foreign occupation to protect civilians. NATO attacks were anything but a non-fly zone; civilians were violently killed instead of being protected. NATO violations began right at the beginning of the war, when British commandos were captured in Eastern Libya and thrown out of the country by the rebels. Afterwards, NATO attacked civilians, schools, houses and apparently everything else in Libya, in sharp contradiction to its mandate. The terrorist attacks were so large that bringing a list of NATO’s violations would be impossible in this format. On August 5, 2011, a daily summary made by Venezuelan teleSUR revealed that 1118 people had been hit in 1600 civilian targets. The mass murder was conducted under the command of two men: Giampaolo Di Paola—Chairman of the NATO Military Committee—and Anders Fogh Rasmussen—Secretary General of NATO. They violated their mandate; every soldier obeying their commands committed war crimes and deserves to be put on trial by an international court. Eventually, Libya was defeated, and NATO countries gained access to cheap oil for a generation or two. In similar events that occurred in Afghanistan, James Petras said: (“Afghanistan: Why civilians are killed”): “Success,” according to the imperial world view is measured internationally by the number of client rulers; nationally by the number of flags pinned to the war maps denoting ‘secure cities;’ and locally by the body counts of massacred families.
Now, the emerging conflict over the Mediterranean gas fields (the last one discovered in February 2012 includes oil) may signal the breakaway from the organization of a substantial member. The USA and Greece are obviously supporting Israel and Cyprus on the issue of the new gas fields. That is despite a recent hiccup in the Greece-Iran relations. On February 26, 2012, an odd media battle took place in Iran. Different agencies reported and denied that Iran was blocking the shipment of 500,000 barrels of crude oil to Greece, in retaliation for European Union sanctions. After the initial report by the Fars news agency, the news item was denied by the Iranian Student’s News Agency, and then also by Greek officials. Greek authorities were extremely fast to react, saying that everything was in accordance with signed deals between Greece and Iran. If the incident had been an accidental error, Greece would probably have ignored the Iranian internal press. The fast reaction showed Greece was under pressure. It needed the Iranian oil. Considering this, a more intriguing option must be considered. Maybe Iran sent a subtle message to Greece to stay out of the new Israel-Cyprus alliance. It worked in the short term, but in the long term, Greece is rearranging its alliances (more details in Greece’s Fadeaway: Iran and Israel Battle over Cyprus). Yet, the Greek and American reactions to the issue of the gas fields are odd. Israel is not a NATO member. Turkey is. Their support of Israel against Turkey is—at least—a violation of Article 5 of the NATO Charter, and probably of many others. This is so since the core of the NATO treaty is that member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. Article 5 says that an attack on any member shall be considered to be an attack on all; it was invoked only once in NATO’s history, as the justification for the American attack on Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11. Yet, the USA and Greece seem to be taking a stand against a NATO member—Turkey—by supporting a non-member in its belligerent conflict against the member.
Probably, we will see further support of Israel by NATO; to the extent that Turkey may be kicked out of the organization. The same violent oil-greed that drives NATO may bring it to its end—at least in its actual format—for the joy of all peaceful people around the world. Behind the pretty words about freedom and democracy, the West is proving again that its only God is named Greed, that its words are worthless, that’s its treaties are nothing but dust in the wind. What counts to them is the weight of their gold in Zurich’s vaults.