(part of the ) Analysis

“…Under this strategy, Greece is a perfect tool for Israel. Turkey has long been Greece’s main rival, and the two have long maintained a balance of power in the Aegean Sea, their main point of contention. Controlling the Aegean is crucial for Greece to exert sovereignty over its mainland and thousands of islands. But maintaining this control means Greece has had to build up one of the most advance air forces on the Continent, a costly affair for a country with a population of just 10 million even when not facing a massive sovereign debt crisis. This, plus Turkey’s new push in the Middle East, have made Athens much less of a threat to Ankara. Greece has attempted to reduce tensions with Turkey, offering a controlled drawdown of forces in the Aegean, but Ankara largely rebuffed this gesture both because it considers Greece less of a threat and because Turkey, looking to expand its influence in the Caucasus, Balkans and Middle East, needs to maintain its military deterrence and cannot afford a drawdown.
Israel and Greece see benefits in increasing ties as a means of throwing Turkey off balance — Israel is hoping Turkey will be concerned about an assertive Greece on its western border, while Greece wants to show Turkey it has options to maintain the balance in the Aegean. This is a change in political reality; Greece was a vociferously pro-Arab state throughout the Cold War, with many Palestine Liberation Organization members finding refuge in Athens. Greece opposed Israel because it was suspicious of the Turkish-Israeli alliance and because it did not want to find itself isolated from Arab energy exports during the Cold War. But with the weakening Turkish-Israeli alliance — for decades a key to the Middle Eastern balance of power — Athens sees a chance to send a message to Ankara. Reports alleging that Greece will allow Israeli jet fighters to use its airspace for training — something Turkey previously had provided — could be just such a message…”

“Published with permission of STRATFOR, a global intelligence company”