My take on OpEd “Why Erdogan Might Choose War with Greece”. Firstly, war would be a choice, if it happens that means its unavoidable. Peace and stability in the Aegean are paramount for Turkiye’s national security and economy.
Regardless of disparities in military power, there is no such thing as a short quick war, Syria, Libya, Afganistan, Iraq, Yemen and Ukraine have taught us that and Turkiye has more than enough experience to understand that.
Do I think there’s going to be a war between Turkiye and Greece? I think until both Turkish and Greek elections are over, we are probably the closest to the probability of war since the Kardak Crisis of 95.
The reason why I refer to elections is not because war would win votes for either Erdogan or Mitsotakis but rather both leaders will have limited flexibility and diplomatic space to operate in under election atmosphere conditions.
Turks and Greeks are both very patriotic people and any miscalculation that increases tensions could result in kinetic engagement. Also, the OpEd consistently insinuates that Erdogan is responsible for tensions between both countries.
This recent round of escalation is about 2-3 years in the making. Erdogan’s been around for 20 years and has seen 9 Greek Prime Ministers. Tensions have always been manageable at worst and the relationship was improving at best under the previous 8 Greek PMs.
With Mitsotakis’ arrival tensions have consistently escalated to the point where now we are talking about war. As for the Turkish distrust in the US part of the article, any country that took similar actions around another country’s borders with rival actors would be distrusted.
Lifting a 35 year arms embargo on Greek Cypriots, especially when tensions between TR and GR are near an all-time high is just a stupid move. The US had originally placed the embargo to deescalate tensions and support the reunification process.
I guess the percieved messaging by the Turks of the US lifting this embargo would be to escalate tensions and end support for reunification. All this move does is create an arms race on a tiny island where the situation could become combustible and trigger a TR-GR conflict.
As for the US military buildup and weapons support in Greece, the US reasoning as been to counter Russia. My question would be, what has Greece done in the past 70 years to make the US/NATO to believe that it has the risk appetite to seriously counter Russia or allow its soil to be used for operations against Russia, which would immediately make it a target for Moscow. If someone can give me a serious answer to this, I’ll buy the US explanation. Over the past half century, peace in the Aegean was maintained due to one factor… balance.
It took half a century to create that fragile and accurate balance. Its not a perfect science but it’s worked at keeping the peace. Now the US and to a lesser extent France are tinkering with that balance.
Anyone who follows NATO knows what war between Turkiye and Greece would mean for the Alliance, the collapse of the critical southeastern flank, a front that is the barrier against terrorism, a curb against irregular migration and the maritime rampart to Russian naval traffic.
This is probably a worst case security scenrio of the Transatlantic Alliance while the War in Ukraine is ongoing and would definitely distract from NATO’s efforts to support Ukraine and also diminish the Alliance’s capabilities in key waterways.
If war broke out, what would it look like? Well, many of the Aegean islands are indefensible due to proximity to the Turkish mainland and terrian wise, their coasts are suitable for amphibious landings. I assume many islands would quickly fall.
The Greek Air Force would cause headaches for the Turkish side but the damage strikes would cause would diminish over time as air fields, air bases and radar stations would be high priority targets for Turkish drones and cruise missiles.