United States should ‘confront’ Turkey in East Med in case of re-escalation - commentator

The U.S. Navy may need to get involved and carry out military exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean if tensions in the region flare up again, commentator Tom Rogan wrote for the conservative outlet Washington Examiner on Friday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “appears to have backed off, at least a little, from his looming Mediterranean Sea showdown with Greece,” Rogan said, but tensions could flare up again.

Navy aircraft strike units are “only a few days’ sail from the area,” Rogan said, and using them in an exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean “would play Erdogan at precisely the same game he is currently entertaining against Greece.”

Turkey and Greece have been locked in escalating tensions over rights to territorial waters and natural resources in the Mediterranean, with the dispute focusing on Greek islands close to the Turkish shore and rights of Turkish Cypriots in the northern third of the island.

Turkish seismic research vessels have been drilling for hydrocarbons since last year, accompanied by “ludicrously large warship flotillas,” Rogan said.

Erdoğan’s power play at sea is a useful message for domestic policies, as the president can buff up his “nationalist credentials by antagonizing Turkey’s longtime nemesis,” as the country’s economy continues its downturn.

Negotiations between the two neighbours and NATO allies are set to start, but if a compromise can’t be reached, but if France’s military messaging is not enough, United States should get involved, Rogan said.

“The arrival of a U.S. carrier strike group would change things,” he added. “One carrier group could defeat the entire Turkish navy from ranges beyond Turkish striking power. Erdogan knows this even if he would be loath to admit it.”