Greece-Turkey: Fantasy War or War Fantasies?

Tübingen, Germany, Sept. 14:

— Just a few reflections and arm-chair “fantasizing” on a very dangerous situation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea as the Turkish President, Recip Tayyip Erdogan, plays chicken with Greece and the French– A game which could lead to hundreds of thousands of casualties.

Greek Special Forces in Cyprus

Amateurs talk about strategy and tactics. Professionals worry about logistics.

This is not intended to be an educated analysis but rather a reminder of how far out of control and how fast things can spin in this region of the world when you play with fire. US intervention unraveled the Sykes-Picot maps (a good thing) and ushered in total chaos and unmeasurable suffering (a bad thing). Erdogan wants to redraw the 1923 Lausanne Treaty map which was very favorable to Turkey.

Who’s taking point?

Turkey’s President Erdogan is in serious trouble: economy tanking, Corona Virus out of control (the 100,000 mass rally at his Saint Sofia “sacrilege” at the end of August really helped spread it), massive presence of refugees, tourism nose dived … Now the Islamist authoritarian, Erdogan, has found a nationalist cause to buy time but is facing strong opposition from some very serious European powers. His purge of the military means he has incompetent, untrained, and inexperienced commanders who got their positions through religion and fidelity to the theological fascist more than through merit.

The lines were re-drawn in 1923

Who’s going to help Erdogan? Not the EU. The US? To do what exactly? Certainly, not Russia without serious concessions and don’t forget, Greeks and Russians are Orthodox. Erdogan might get some logistical support from Iran but not much more.

French President Emanuel Macron has talked the talk. But is he willing to do what is necessary to walk the walk? He has a lot of problems at home. Interestingly, Erdogan is one of them. The Turkish president is stirring up Islamist fury in France and financing Mosques that promote Sharia. But so do Erdogan’s Muslim enemies, the Saudis. Germany doesn’t want a war because, for one, they fear the reaction of their four million Turks (there are also one million in France), and for two, the Germans do so much trade with Turkey it would just be bad for business. But can Macron back down now?

At least this time the French are on the right side of history, unlike 1854 when they and the Brits created today’s problems in the Balkans by coming to the aid of the Ottomans. None of this would have happened if they just let the Russians kick Ottoman ass during The Crimean War (1). The boundaries Turkey is challenging are those decided in 1923 at the Lausanne Treaty. This came about after what the Greeks consider the British and French betrayal after the Sèvres Treaty of 1920 and the Greco-Turkish War. (2)

Treaty of Sèvres 1920 before Turkish Conquest
& Franco-British betrayal

Greece cannot fight a prolonged war, even a defensive one. But they could take an early initiative against a more numerous but lower quality Turkish opponent and use conquered land as a bargaining chip. Both economies would collapse but Turkey will be quickly starved of fuel & ordnance by embargo. Will Turks revolt? Right now, public opinion is on Erdogan’s side.  Maybe after a few hundred thousand casualties?

Putin and Erdogan are not pals any more and the SS400s Moscow sold Turkey aren’t yet operational. Greek pilots, professional observers say, are amongst the best in the world and much to my chagrin, train with the Israelis.

Turkey is overstretched: 20,000 in Syria, 30,000 in occupied northern Cyprus, how many in Libya?; troops also in Sudan, Qatar as well as contingents in Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania. & more. Despite the numbers, Turkey will have to redeploy.

Bankrupt Greece goes on a buying spree.

The French decision to sell Greece 10 Rafale Fighters and give them eight more, and sell them four Frigates, is another clear sign to Turkey to back off. France also sent a couple of Rafales to Greece and did joint naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean in August. But, who will pay for the new weapons? Greece can count on the EU to not let them starve and most EU & Nato countries would like to see Erdogan put in his place. But what EU country wants a war in Europe? Erdogan has painted everybody, including himself, into a corner (Trump may be too unaware to see it). We could also be witnessing the end of Nato. Hourra!

Worst case scenario: WAR!

  • Greeks rapidly conquer ‘European Turkey‘ west of the Dardenelles.
  • Turkey can’t resupply garrison in Cyrpus.
  • Greek pilots decimate the Turkish air force which lacks spare parts.
  • Greek Navy prevails on the southern coast of Turkey and in Agean.
  • Turks run low on ammunition after two weeks of heavy fighting.
  • Ceasefire agreed to with Turks saving face by claiming they saved the fatherland and Islam from European aggression.
  • Hundreds of thousands of casualties on both sides (at least three times more on Turkish side)
  • Neither country recovers for decades, Greece better than Turkey thanks to its (reluctant) EU allies.
  • Possible revolt/coup/civil war in Turkey.

But a lot depends on what the US will do which I think will basically be talk. Trump and his Israeli chums want a war with Iran and a new Greco-Turkish war would be a bothersome distraction.


  • Has a Napoleon/Grande Nation/Sun King Louis XIV/Make France Great Again complex.
  • Already considers himself a great statesman.
  • Has serious problems with radical Islam and Erdogan is stoking the flames.
  • Wants an end to illegal immigration which is an arm Erdogan uses.
  • Backs General Khalifa Haftar and the elected parliment in Benghazi in Libya along with the Russians while the Turks are arming, supplying and transferring Jihadi extremist & Turkish troops to back the Tripoli government.
  • Wants to build an independent European Military Alliance to replace or shadow Nato with France in a commanding role; something the Germans have publically criticized but privately discussed. Germans may not be as opposed as rhetoric would have you believe.

Possible spin-offs:

  • Serbia regains Kosovo when US withdraws its troops & Europeans follow suit.
  • Damascus regains last rebel-held zones as Turks forced to redeploy. Israel steps up bombings in Syria.
  • Haftar conquers Tripoli, civil war continues but migrations stop. Egypt intervenes on the ground. The UAE continue to fly bombing missions.
  • Cyprus is reunited.
  • How many migrants killed? The European route is closed.
  • Saudis get their UAE puppets to invade Qatar and overthrow its (Iran compatible, pro-Turkish, pro-Muslim Bortherhood) rulers.

But then again, nothing may happen at all.


  1. Taken from Wikipedia:

The longer-term causes involved the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the unwillingness of Britain and France to allow Russia to gain territory and power at the Ottoman Empire’s expense.

2. The 1919-1922 Greco-Turkish War saw a Turkish victory. This from Wikipedia at–1922):

The Greek campaign was launched primarily because the western Allies, particularly British Prime MinisterDavid Lloyd George, had promised Greece territorial gains at the expense of the Ottoman Empire, recently defeated in World War I, as Anatolia had been part of Ancient Greece and the Byzantine Empire before the Ottomans captured the area.