Stepping up military cooperation, the United States reportedly asked the Greek Navy take part in a multinational naval force patrolling the Persian Gulf where Iran has been accused of being behind attacks on tankers during rising tensions – but was rejected.
The US request included asking for a frigate, or with an aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tool, said Kathimerini, without indicating the source. But with Turkey upping provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean, Greece doesn’t have enough tools for its own air surveillance, the paper said.
After a series of meetings of the Greek Defense and Foreign ministries, it was decided the Hellenic Navy cannot currently provide any frigates due to its standby situation in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean with Turkey, the paper said.
Greece also noted it was also taking part in all allied naval training exercises – as it did with the Aigaion frigate in the multinational drill off the Israeli coast, which simulated conditions created by a massive earthquake.
But the Greek government said it would make personnel already in the United Arab Emirates available to the US military to participate in teams monitoring gulf with anxiety over a possible conflict in the Strait of Hormuz.
The US request for a Greek contribution to a multinational naval force was made on a bilateral level, as there is no decision by the United Nations or any other international organization for action against Iran, the report added.
Other major European Union countries, including Germany, has refused to join a US-led naval force, and France also said it keep up contacts with Iran in defiance of American requests, adding to the tension after the US Ambassador to Germany scolded the government for not paying its required contribution to NATO.
While Greece said it was already occupied with the Aegean and East Mediterranean, the paper said the underlying reason was staying out of the Persian Gulf and avoiding being entangled with any brouhaha with Iran.
Ironically, it’s Greece’s new New Democracy administration that is trying to keep its distance after the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA abandoned its anti-American stance to step up military cooperation between the countries to help more.