Biden unlikely to play effective role in helping Israel against Turkey - analyst

It would be surprising if U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden were to prioritise confronting Turkey’s disruptive role in the eastern Mediterranean at the risk of Ankara cooperation in the wider Middle East, wrote Gabriel Mitchell, the director of external relations at the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies.

But even though a Biden administration would not be able to provide substantial long-term support, Mitchell wrote in Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israel must both protect its own interests and maximise whatever U.S. engagement is offered.

U.S. presidential elections are set to take place on Nov. 3., with Biden maintaining a lead over President Donald Trump in most national polls since the start of the year.

“The Trump administration has adopted an ambivalent position on the eastern Mediterranean,’’ where Turkey’s aggressive gas drilling campaign has led to soaring tensions in the region, Mitchell said. 

The crisis between NATO allies Greece and Turkey over hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean has dragged a number of countries into the dispute, including Israel.

The U.S. government on the one hand, “called Turkey out for violating Greek maritime space, but made no offer to mediate between the two parties’’ or broker a grand bargain between Turkey and the region’s other actor, he added.

Despite agreement amongst foreign policy experts in Washington that something must be done in response to Ankara’s wayward behaviour in the region, he wrote, the United States is not prepared to lose such a crucial partner.

If Washington fails to step up as a central player in defusing the ongoing tension between Turkey and other regional actors, Israel must have a line of communication with Ankara to prevent any escalation in its own backyard  that goes past the point of no return, the analyst said.