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Andreas Banoutsos
(RIEAS Analyst)

Copyright: www.rieas.gr

The New York Times recently reported that earlier this month Israel carried out a major military exercise in order to be able to face the Iranian nuclear threat in the near future. One Israeli aim was to practice flight tactics, aerial refueling and all other aspects of a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities and its long-range conventional missiles. Another goal was to send a clear message to Israel’s Western allies that she is ready to act unilaterally in order to stop Iran from producing nuclear weapons.

This military exercise codenamed “Glorious Spartan” was a major military collaboration between Israeli Air Force (IAF) and the Hellenic Air Force (HAF). According to Defence.net this exercise will open new perspectives in Greek-Israeli military cooperation. It was indeed the first time that Israeli F-15 and F-16 flew over the Greek aerospace.

After 45 years of stagnation in Greek-Israeli relations, a military agreement was concluded as early as December 1994 (predating the Israeli-Turkish agreement of February 1996); however both sides refrained from activating the agreement. Greece was apparently concerned about alienating the Arab world while Israel did not wish to upset Turkey. Greece and Israel agreed to hold joint naval exercises at the end of summer 1997, but they were indefinitely postponed by the Greeks. Nevertheless the dramatic events of 9/11 in combination with the rise of Islamism in Turkish politics have greatly reduced the need of a strong Israeli-Turkish axis. (1)

After the successful “Glorious Spartan” operations in May-June 2008, we believe that it is about time to expand the military cooperation into a strategic partnership between Greece and Israel. This cooperation is crucial to Greece, due to the fact that the rise of radical Islam is a terrifying reality in the Balkans and the need for intelligence sharing is fundamental for enhancing Greece’s national security.

The two oldest surviving nations of the Mediterranean who have constantly been active in world history since the era of Moses and Ulysses both need a strong strategic alliance in order for them to face the asymmetrical and nuclear threats of the 21st century. Operation “Glorious Spartan” was an encouraging development.


(1) John M. Nomikos and Ioannis Michaletos, “An Outline of Greek-Israeli Strategic Relations”,



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