90 days with the Turkish Air Force “in its cage”: how long will it last?

By | May 6, 2023

We pointed it out at the end of February, but now it’s about to become “status quo.” We close for almost 3 months, 87 days to be exact, where a strange calm reigns in the Aegean, apparently after the devastating earthquake that occurred in Turkey on February 6. The Turkish Air Force, with fighters, drones and naval cooperation aircraft, has disappeared in offensive action, with practically “zero” activity in Athens FIR violations and national airspace violations. Let’s see the figures by month:

  • In February, from the 6th of the month (the milestone) to the 28th, we had only 21 violations and 105 violations. The latter may seem like a lot, but they are collected in a week or so, they have been carried out by a few drones that have made several consecutive flights in the same flight.
  • In March, the entire month we had only 3 violations.
  • Zero in April. Nothing at all.
  • In May, until yesterday the 4th of the month, 2 infractions.

In total, in 87 days, only 26 violations and 105 violations were recorded. And if it “just” sounds strange, just compare it to January of this year. where we had 321 aircraft, committing 238 violations, 978 violations, while there were 21 overflights of Greek islands and 74 clashes with Greek fighters! A frenetic aggressive action, which was the continuation of an equally intense 2022.

Turkish rapes in the Aegean: an outrageous increase that demands a new policy

We will say again that the respite is welcome, also on the part of the Hellenic Air Force, which was able to rest crews, repair planes, that is, gain strength. And of course, the cost of mobilizing and attriting our fighters must also plummet. How long will this idyllic image last? This is where the betting begins! With the following predictions from us:

  1. Until the elections in Turkey on May 14, and a few days after.
  2. Until the second round of the presidential elections in Turkey, if there is one (i.e. after June).
  3. Until the Turkish Parliament approves Sweden’s entry into NATO and the relevant declarations are made and Ankara receives the “congratulations” and possibly some “gifts”.
  4. Until the political scenario in Turkey is balanced, that is, until a stable government is formed. Here the prediction is more vague, but essentially incorporates international concern that Turkey, due to polarized elections and Erdogan’s establishment mindset, could enter a phase of unrest, with no clear end.
  5. Until 15 September. Well, until then, the Turkish Defense Minister, Hulusi Akar, has stated that there will be a “moratorium in the Aegean”, since it is a tourist season that benefits both countries. A public commitment that can be maintained for tactical reasons.
  6. E. Indefinitely why Türkiye decided to change its position. We said that we make bets, that between the most improbable.

Now with a little more depth. The calm in the Aegean is explained by the political introversion in Turkey because of the earthquake, but also by the need to show a “good face”, especially towards the US. However, zero flights are impressive, as this could be achieved by a sharp reduction in aggressive activity rather than its complete disappearance. Here we record a reflection, at the same time that we call “rest” for the Greek Air Force, it is also “rest” for the Turkish Air Force. In other words, we assume the obvious, that in the same months it carries out maintenance and repairs to its aircraft, carries out training, clearly carries out exercises – these days it becomes the multinational anatolian Eagle 2023 with the participation of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Emirates, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Great Britain.

However, the political element comes first, at the same time that the Turkish Air Force “politely withdraws” from the Aegean for at least 3 months, the statements of Turkish politicians on the eve of the elections increase in megalomania. While we had a rhetorical pause until about 10 days ago, now both Erdoğan and Kilinçaroğlu have raised their voices. Kilinçaroglou in his pre-election speech made the comparison that “Erdogan says that ‘we will go at night’ but we (referring to the Kemalists) went to Cyprus immediately when necessary.” In other words, he accused Erdogan of theorizing about threats against Greece, while his own party, the real Kemalist party, is “action.”

Erdogan, for his part, accuses the opposition of being “traitors of the country and ready to sell it” while he cares for his greatness, his extroverted visions, Mavi Vatan (“Blue Country”) and his military strengthening, that is, peaks. which also include Greece. So within the next 10 days until the elections in the neighboring country, we will not be surprised to hear more direct threats.

Is there a chance that Turkey will continue this recession in the Aegean for a long time? In our opinion not much. but this does not mean that it will necessarily return to the rape/rape storm of 2022 that also made an international impression. After all, the Turkish tactic is consistently double-edged: it vindicates diplomatically and presses militarily, alternating the tension between the two options, but never – until now – abandoning them. We’ve seen “breaks” before, e.g. the relevant Papoulia-Gilmaz agreement was made in 1988, which was little respected, there were relaxation intervals, as in the visits of political leaders of both sides to the two countries, but they did not affect the thorny bilateral relations in the long term.

Last question: During the 3 month lull, and for as long as it lasts, will the required test of Greek attitude take place, away from our own electoral “noise”? So let’s see if we can cite more convincing answers when and when the Turkish Air Force “gets out of its cage”. And these answers are not only weapons, which are obviously necessary, but are mainly doctrinal and tactical, they are strategic and political objective options. The main thing is one, that Greece stop offering Turkey the initiative of movements, be it air violations or political pressure. As a country that constantly reacts, at some point it also becomes a puppet of its opponent.

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