Step by step, Erdoğan’s strategy for provoking an anti-Hellenic-anti-Western mentality of the Turks
“Turkey: Erdogan is fishing for trouble in the Aegean, again”, is the title of an article by an international reputable media outlet, whose main points are as follows:
“Various polls show Erdogan’s popularity at less than 30%, compared to the 52% he won re-election with in 2018.
Many Turks, although starving, are nevertheless proud to have a leader who can face the “faithless West”, including their traditional rival and neighbor, Greece. It is precisely this sentiment that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose popularity has plummeted in recent months, sees as a national weakness that must be stoked.
The warmongering Islamist strongman apparently reckons he can persuade the Turks to support revisionist bullying and ignore their misery.
Turkey is a year away from presidential and parliamentary elections. Many Turks are starving. Literally. Their per capita GDP of around $9,500 has crushed many of them under triple-digit inflation and a rapid devaluation of the national currency, while independent economists warn that this may be only the beginning of worse torment for a country of 84 million people, excluding 9 million who are refugees and immigrants.
Erdogan, in this latest bet, appears to be both right and wrong. He is right that his warmongering tactics consolidate his grassroots supporters, conservative Muslims and Turkish nationalists, an undisputed 20% of the electorate.
But he’s wrong that playing the regional neo-Ottoman bully will be enough to win him a third term as president.
So what should Erdogan do as former loyalists of the powerful Justice and Development Party (AKP) appear to be defecting in droves?
See again the same pre-election political recipe that has worked many times in the past:
To cause tensions in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Pray that Greek politicians feel compelled to reciprocate.
Provoke the anti-Hellenic feeling of the Turks, win national applause.
Pray that the US and the EU will participate in its theatrical production on the side of Greece.
Turn the whole project into a drama of Turks vs. unfaithful Westerners.
Add some military fuel to the plot to stir up the nationalist, militaristic sentiments of the Turks.
Tell the Turks, “We are close to war with the unfaithful Westerners.”
In the final act, tell the Turks that their poverty is the result of Turkey’s confrontation with the West and that “we all have to pay this price for our independence.”
Erdogan has already set the stage for the next episode of his theatrical extravagance. His coalition partner, ultranationalist leader Devlet Bahçeli, has claimed that US military bases in Greece pose an “immediate threat” to Turkish security. This is nonsense.
How could a peaceful NATO ally, Greece, pose a direct threat to another NATO member, Turkey, where US military bases are located?
Are US bases in Turkey a direct threat to Turkey?
In a June 9 speech, Erdogan said Greece should stop stationing military personnel on its Aegean islands that have demilitarized status under the 1923 Lausanne Treaty and the 1947 Paris Treaty.
He called on Athens to “avoid dreams, actions and statements that will lead to regret, as it did a century ago, and return to its feelings” and invoked Turkey’s war of independence in the early 1920s, when the Turks defeated the occupying forces. including Greece.
Erdogan did not mention that the same treaties also prohibit the militarization of Turkey’s Aegean islands and Turkey’s Dardanelles and Bosporus straits.
Escalation was on its way. Earlier, Erdogan announced that Turkey was suspending all bilateral talks with Greece due to a dispute with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over what Ankara calls “violations of airspace”.
In this crescendo of Turkey’s inflammatory rhetoric, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu played his part. He repeatedly said that if Athens persisted in militarizing its islands, Turkey would begin to challenge Greek sovereignty over them. Now we have casus belli in the plot.
AKP spokesman Omer Celik also joined the “soon-we-will-invade-the-islands” chorus as he threatened Greece with “the Turks coming suddenly overnight”.
Now it’s time for the extras to play their part. The media controlled by Erdogan are campaigning that 22 Greek islands in the Aegean can be claimed by Turkey and that Turkey has sovereignty over nine of them, including Samos, Lesbos, Chios, Lemnos, Rhodes and Ikaria.
Turkey does not have the political, military or economic power to invade an EU member, with the West watching. Turkey invading Greece is not Russia invading Ukraine.
Erdogan is a gambler who has used the same tactic for domestic consumption many times before.
From the above very correct approach-analysis we understand that the Turkish President is attempting this anti-Greek campaign and rhetoric for internal consumption and vote-catching.
However, in our estimation, at the same time he is testing the Greek reactions, while foreshadowing the International Public opinion about his intentions.
He will continue this tactic, with the ultimate goal of creating a feeling of fatigue in Greece, at the political and military level due to our constant and prolonged vigilance, but also Internationally, keeping watch in order to find the right opportunity, if presented to him to act on the field, with the ultimate goal of creating achievements in the Aegean, for example with the quick occupation of our micro-islands and rocky islands.
Erdoğan thus expects that we will then have direct intervention by NATO, towards us and Turkey, in order to prevent the military conflict from becoming generalized, as a result of which we will sit at the negotiating table with the Turks demanding the demilitarization of our islands in exchange for the withdrawal them from Greek territory.
Of course, for all of the above to happen, Greece would have to slip from its correct line, which is that any point crisis or hot episode with Turkey will be generalized into a generalized military confrontation.
Therefore, as long as our country remains unwavering in its above position, Erdogan will not do anything in the Aegean, since a generalized military conflict with Greece, with its powerful Armed Forces, but also its alliances, would be tantamount to suicide for the Turkish President.