After eight years of being kept afloat by loans from its European Union partners and the International Monetary Fund, Greece suddenly risks being swamped by waves caused by President Trump’s unilateral stirring of the Middle East’s caldron of tensions and conflicting interests.
Compared with the immediate danger of regional conflict and even greater bloodshed, the danger to Greece may seem secondary, but it illustrates the unforeseen consequences of impetuous American actions.
Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran and its decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem could trigger a chain of events that would jeopardize Greece’s fragile economic recovery. With the last of three international bailout agreements set to end in August, the government has been pressing the message that Greece will soon be a “normal” country, able to hold its own in the international economy. Turbulence in the region would create new threats to its economy, its security, even its relations with its key partners — the United States and the European Union.
Greece already has problems with neighboring Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is campaigning for re-election in snap polls on June 24 and has invested in stoking nationalist fervor — primarily against Kurds in Syria, Turkey and Iraq, but also against the United States and Greece.
Ankara’s worsening relations with Washington and European capitals over a host of issues have led to more pressure on Greece: a sharp increase of immigrants and refugees crossing from Turkey in recent months, the ongoing detention in Turkey of two Greek soldiers who strayed across the border in early March and a series of confrontational military actions by Turkey. These all highlight the dangers that Greece faces as the European Union’s frontier state in a turbulent region.
Mr. Erdogan presents himself as the victim of an attempted coup, allegedly by a United States-based former ally, Fethullah Gulen, and as the champion of Muslims everywhere, including the Palestinians. Lately, in the region’s fluid network of rivalries and alliances, Turkey, a NATO member, has cultivated closer ties with Russia and Iran while chafing against American constraints on its occupation of part of northern Syria. The drawing of battle lines over Mr. Trump’s recent actions could lead to greater tension among Turkey, the United States and Israel.
Meanwhile, Greece’s relations with the United States and Israel have never been better. The U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, refers to the country as a pillar of stability