The growing U.S. military presence in Greece may lead to unwanted scenarios in the Aegean, experts warned.
With the ratification of the Greek-American Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) by the Hellenic Parliament on May 13, the United States has gained access to three military bases in Greece, in addition to the one it already operates.
Apart from the naval base in Souda Bay in Crete that the U.S. has been operating since 1969, the MDCA will let the U.S. military use the Georgula barracks in the central Greek province of Volos, the Litochoro training ground and army barracks in the northeastern port city of Alexandroupoli.
The Greek government has said that the agreement should be seen as an indicator of Greece’s elevated role in Washington.
However, experts have warned that the growing U.S. presence in Greece could lead to undesired scenarios in the Aegean region.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Ali Bakeer, an assistant professor of international relations at Qatar University, argued that using Greece to undermine Turkey is an “old and typical strategy” of some Western powers.
“Deploying more U.S. troops to Greece will disrupt NATO’s powers, and will only encourage Athens to take risky policies and play the spoiler role more often,” Bakeer said.
This would be highly dangerous to the regional stability and security as Athens might overstep the limits, he added.
Furthermore, Bakeer claims that if things escalate between Athens and Ankara, the U.S. would not come to Greece’s rescue as some might wrongfully believe.
Touching upon the significance of Turkey in the trans-Atlantic security architecture, he underlined that the country, which has the second-largest armed forces in NATO after the U.S., recently proved its value and capabilities in Syria, Libya and Ukraine.
In contrast, Greece is the “real disruptor” of NATO’s powers on the political, financial and military levels, Bakeer asserted.
“Athens increasingly dragging NATO to its own problems. Because of Greece, the EU now is deprived of a critical alternative source to Russia’s oil and gas from the Eastern Mediterranean,” he added.
He argued that Turkey should be aware that more U.S. deployment in Greece might make Athens “more reckless.”
In the worst scenario between Athens and Ankara, he said, the U.S. should remain neutral and push for an immediate cease-fire.
“Otherwise, Greece will lead the U.S. into a bigger problem that will hinder its capacity to face the challenges posed by Russia and China,” he warned.
Also speaking to AA, Kozan Erkan, a senior defense and security expert, argued that the U.S. has been increasingly tilting toward Greece, more so under the Biden administration.
“Expansion of the U.S. military presence in Greece, particularly around Alexandroupoli poses a direct threat to Turkey,” he said.
Erkan maintained that the U.S. deployment in the country intends to deter Turkey from responding to a possible assault by Greece.
The U.S. would not directly get involved in the war between the countries, but its growing military and security cooperation and troop deployment in Greece contribute to Athens’ “increasingly provocative stance” toward Ankara, he said.
Erkan noted that Greece’s recent armament program includes major offensive weapon systems.
After Rafael jets, Greece now seeks to purchase F-35 stealth fighters that are purely offensive systems, he explained.
One of the reasons behind the expansion of the U.S. presence in Greece is “containing” Turkey, he said, adding that Washington wants a “less independent” Turkey that would function in line with the American interests.