IBNA/ Interview with Efraim Inbar, Professor of Political Science – Director of the Center of Strategic Studies Begin Sadat (BESA)

IBNA/ Interview with Efraim Inbar, Professor of Political Science – Director of the Center of Strategic Studies Begin Sadat (BESA)

Athens, May 22, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

“The Islamic State is less bad compared with Assad”

“We are against the approach of the USA in Iran”

“The cooperation Greece-Cyprus-Israel-Egypt is good, but no one will fight for the other”

“This is a test period for the relations between Israel and the government of SYRIZA”

By Manolis Kostidis

With the desire to learn how Israelis see the latest developments in the Middle East, the Greece-Israel-Cyprus relations and many other geostrategic issues, we met with Ephraim Inbar, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and director of the Center of Strategic Studies Vegin-Sadat Center (BESA).

O he visited our country on the occasion of the conference organized in Athens from Piraeus University and the Center (BESA) on the “Eastern Mediterranean between the West and East.”

Inbar says he expresses the conservative view of Jews, as they are not in favour of the US rapprochement with Iran, as they are against the existence of the Palestinian State “under the present circumstances”.

“The US are making a mistake in the Iran issue. They began negotiations with the UN resolution that said no in uranium enrichment in Iran. Now they speak of 6000 centrifuges. This is far from the non enrichment. Iran will have just three months to build a nuclear bomb. This cannot be acceptable to us. It doesn’t matter what people in Washington, Paris, Frankfurt think. What’s important is what they think in Riyadh, Cairo in Jerusalem. We all know that if this agreement is signed we will soon have soon a Saudi nuclear bomb, a Turkish, or even an Egyptian nuclear bomb. This is a strategic nightmare”, he tell us.

Ephraim Inbar believes that the threat of Iran and the Shiite arc in the Middle East is more dangerous than that of the Islamic state.

“I think the threat of the Islamic State is great. But this creation is the result of Iraq no longer a being a state, like Syria. The rebels have big wins with American weapons seized from the Iraqi army. They were helped by Turkey. This is a part of the Sunni-Shiite conflict.

Inbar claims that Barack Obama’s staff do not understand what is happening in the Middle East and says he prefers the Islamic State in Syria than Assad: “we must choose the worst evil. The Islamic state has little power. The big threat to the Middle East is Iran. Assad is the ally of Shiite Iran. Assad is the critical factor of the Shiite arc. Iran, Sdouthern Iraq, Syria, Lebanon. This is the greatest threat”, he stresses.

The Israeli political science professor also claims that the cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Turkey is against Assad is not as strong as some say, since “after so many years they have failed to overthrow him”. He points out, however, that the Sunnis are the allies of the US.

Inbar doesn’t “see” an improvement in Turkish-Israeli relations as long as Erdogan remains in power, despite the “sorry” of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Turkish president regarding the attack on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in 2009″.

“The Turkish government changed objectives. From being part of Europe it has started working hard towards being the leader of the Muslim Arab world. To this, they opposed Israel. I see no future in the relations as long as there is Erdogan and neo-Ottoman ideas”.

He adds that the apology of Netanyahu yielded no benefits, since as he cliams Erdogan “is an anti-Semite. We did not get anything in return for our apology”.

Regarding the Greece-Cyprus-Israel-Egypt relations Inbar stressed that its main objective is Turkey, which “is becoming very aggressive in eastern Mediterranean. These countries can cooperate in areas such as the economy and energy. They Greek and Israeli lobby in Washington can work together.

He warns however that the “Cypriots must be ready for everything. The Turks are aggressive and act hard… Cooperation is good, but no one will fight for the other, but can be helped in other ways. Erdogan is a strong leader, who plays a tough game”.

Ephraim Inbar stands clearly against the future possibility of a recognition of the Palestinian state. “Let them say what they want. Let the Europeans call it a State. Palestine is not a state. Abbas does not even rule Ramallah! What kind of state are we talking about? We have given them the right to have state in exchange for security. They didn’t give it to us”.

The professor speaks of an initial questioning of the intentions of the Greek government regarding the continuation of the Israeli-Greek cooperation. “This is a test period for Israel-Greece relations. Greece has a new government, with different political views. SYRIZA is not known for their pro-Israeli views. We look at what will happen in the relations in the future. The Greek government may opt to continue having the same level of relations with the past and perhaps better. But in general I see that the two countries’ good relations and their strategic partnership will continue. Military Exercises etc. So far we do not see a change. We have a common strategic agenda. Those I met here from the government have a strategic viewpoint and they understand strategy. They are not like ordinary Europeans who speak only of the Euro etc”, Inbar stresses.