Athens

by esjr, August, 29 2019

So there's a new government in Greece. That is not exactly news : a little over 50 days ago, Greece returned to it's old ways and heriditary democracy, as Kyriakos Mitsotakis' Nea Dimokratia government was sworn in.

So, things change. Mitsotakis' crew hit the ground running and appears to be doing and un-doing things left, right and center, mostly right off center, of course. Be that as it may, there is one area where things have literally taken off and which to the best of my knowledge is not being reported on.

Since at least July 19 -- when I first noticed -- Athens airport is being used for US military troop transports !

The previous Prime Minister's meeting with Trump in Washington, now almost two years ago, was "basically a formal expression of American interest in further upgrading the role of the US Navy base at Souda in Crete and increasing use of the Greek airports at Kasteli and Andravida". The US is not the only country that wants to "upgrade" it's military bases in Greece and Cyprus but that's not in or near Athens -- out of sight, out of mind -- and neither Greek nor Cypriot politicos were particularly keen to spend political capital on that. So that changed, at least in Athens because today there are US military troop transports from Athens.

This, to my knowledge, has never happened before and given Greece's awkward history with US military presence in the country, I think this is a big deal indeed and raises a number of interesting and awkward questions.

It's clear that Little Sunday -- my nickname for the current Greek PM -- wants to get things done and get them done fast, but this is really fast !

The incense barely lifted from the swearing in and 'Camber' flights were lifting off from ATH to Djibouti and Kuwait. That's fast ! So fast in fact you have to seriously wonder when Team Kyriakos sealed that deal.

I do not know whether there is a Greek version of the Logan Act , I would assume so, but surely it raises questions. Apart from that one has to wonder what the deal is and what other deals like it exist.

The idea of a Greek government eager to comply with Team Trump's every demand, even with an increasingly defiant and belligerent Erdogan constantly ratcheting up the pressure, is unsettling particularly since it is unlikely that, if push comes to shove, the US and Trump specifically, would be willing to step up to the mat with the force and determination required or maybe even agreed upon.

There is also the fact that the US cajoles, bribes or even bullies the weaker and disgruntled EU members to undermine the EU's unity and that Greece has a history of flirting with both the US and Russia -- depending on which of the political dynasties is in charge -- trying to leverage the implied threat of undermining that same EU unity, such as it is. However, if push does come to shove, all Erdogan has to do is allow the flow of migrants the resume. Greece would again be overwhelmed and totally dependant on an EU united on the one issue that is wreaking political havoc in practically every one of it's member states : immigrants.

Another question is : why ? What operational need promped the US to add Athens to it's collection of both old and established -- think Ramstein, Hahn, Shannon,... -- and new 'balkan' -- Romania, Georgia,... -- transit points ?

It looks like Little Sunday and company decided, as others did before them, to put on their big-boy pants and go play with the big kids in the big sandbox. This is worrying because they are obviously punching above their weight and these are not particularly nice big kids. Someone is going to get hurt. What is particularly worrying is that as far as I can tell no one appears to be noticing Little Sunday's brinkmanship...yet.