Turkish Television Discusses Hitting Greece :: Gatestone Institute

On Turkey’s pro-government TV channel AHaber, political analysts and national security specialists recently discussed how the Turkish Air Force could strike Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. Pictured: A Turkish Air Force F-16 fighters flies over Istanbul Airport on September 20, 2018. (Photo by Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images)

On Turkey’s pro-government TV channel AHaber, political analysts and national security specialists on February 28 enthusiastically discussed how the Turkish Air Force could strike Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.

Speaking in front of a map of Turkey and Greece, Mesut Hakkı Caşın, a professor of international law and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s advisor for security and foreign policy, spoke about the Turkish Kaan fighter jet, which is currently under development, and said:

“This [Kaan] plane won’t be spotted by Greek radars. As this plane hits the main targets [Aegean islands] here, the other plane accompanying it, [the UAV Bayraktar] Akıncı, can destroy all the radars here [on the islands], leaving the Greeks blind…

“Add to that our other unmanned combat aerial vehicles, Greek squares will be devastated in less than 3 hours…

“If the Greeks enter a war with us, all the weapons in all those islands will be war booty for us.”

Another analyst said:

“The Turkish nation has a dream regarding the islands, but the official policy can’t be expressed publicly.”

Another said:

“We will not invade the islands. We will use our right to move freely. We will be a member of the European Union. And then the islands will demographically pass to the Turkish people in a generation. In a generation, all the islands will be majority Turkish.”

“Conquest without a war,” he added, “happens like this [through demographic domination].”

The other analyst disagreed:

“Those islands were under Ottoman rule for 500 years, but they were 95 percent demographically Greek. Even the Ottoman Empire could not Turkify them. Also, I don’t believe Turkey will ever be a member of the EU. [The conquest of the islands] will happen only through war.”

So, the Turkish government aims to conquer the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea – either militarily or demographically. The goal is the same: the islands’ capture.

Such conversations are frequent in Turkey’s pro-government media. On February 6, Turkish analysts proudly discussed the prospects of Turkey striking Greece with missiles.

On CNN Turk, pro-government analysts said that the Tayfun, the first Turkish-made short-range ballistic missile, could easily hit Greece from Turkey. “If we fire it from Edirne or Izmir, we can hit Athens,” they concluded.

These threats are not new. For at least the past five years, Turkey’s government has threatened to invade and annex the Greek islands in the Aegean.

On the official X (Twitter) account of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) a video was posted on April 22, 2023, claiming some Greek islands and the Western Thrace region of Greece as part of Turkish territory.

The Turkish media also falsely and repeatedly claims that “152 Greek islands and islets in the Aegean belong to Turkey”. These islands, however, historically and legally, belong to Greece, mainly through the 1924 Treaty of Lausanne, 1932 Turkish-Italian Agreements and the 1947 Paris Treaty.

Erdogan’s Islamist government apparently aims to annex Greek territory for two main reasons. The first stems from a belief in neo-Ottomanism and the Islamic concept of conquest, or “fetih,” from the Arabic word “fath”. The second reason stems from the government’s proud denial of its past crimes against Christians.

Conquest is part of Islamic jihad (warfare in the service of Islam) which, according to Islamic scriptures, is a communal obligation. As author Dr. Mark Durie explains:

“The Islamic ideology of conquest demands that a land, once conquered for Islam, belongs in perpetuity to Muslims. After conquest, previous occupants became tolerated clients of the Muslim occupiers, and, according to Islamic law, they were allowed to survive as long as they paid tribute.

“Connected to the idea that conquered land belongs to Muslims is the Quranic concept of mustakhlafīn (‘successors’). [Qur’anic] Sura 24:55 says, ‘God has promised those of you who believe and do righteous deeds that He will surely make you successors in the land.’

“In the Qur’an, ‘successors’ are believers who take over the properties of a people whom Allah has destroyed, including by conquest at the hands of believers. By this logic, Muslims become the ‘successors’ – the rightful owners – of conquered lands.”

The ideology of conquest in the name of jihad is what drove Ottoman Turks to invade and conquer lands stretching across Asia, Europe and Africa for more than 600 years. At its height, the Ottoman Empire occupied most of southeastern Europe to the gates of Vienna, including present-day Hungary, the Balkan region, Greece, and parts of Ukraine; parts of the Middle East (including present-day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel); North Africa and large parts of the Arabian Peninsula.

According to Islamists, Muslim military expansion is an act of Allah’s favor because Allah bestows those places upon Muslim conquerors.

In conquering Constantinople for instance, Islamists claim that according to a hadith (Ahmad; Hakim, al-Mustadrak), Islam’s prophet Mohammed (b. 570 – d. 632) encouraged Muslims to conquer the city.

Muslim Turks, led by Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, also known as Muhammed bin Murad, invaded and captured Constantinople from the Greek Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire on May 29, 1453. The city had been built and ruled by Greeks for millennia. Turks call the Sultan “Mehmed the Conqueror” (Fatih).

According to Professor Mustafa Sabri Küçükaşçı, a specialist in Islamic history:

“It was through the Hudaybiya Treaty (April, 628) that the general concept of conquest, with its spiritual dimension of reaching out to hearts and minds, entered Islamic culture. Prophet Muhammad taught his Companions (Sahaba) that conquest could occur both through war and through preaching the message of the faith.”

According to what Islamic scholars, including Küçükaşçı, call “conquest hadith”, Islam’s prophet Mohammed said: “

Verily, you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful army will that army be, and what a wonderful commander will that conqueror be.”

Küçükaşçı writes:

“These types of hadith, and especially the conquest hadith, frequently referred to concepts like conquest, war, and jihad; in addition, the Companions and the Muslims who came after them brought the conquest hadith to the fore as the most defining component of the motivation for the conquest of Constantinople.”

What followed the fall of Constantinople was bloodshed and the rape of Christians by Muslim Turks, among other atrocities, as described by the historian Raymond Ibrahim, from reports by eyewitnesses at the time:

“Once inside the city on that fateful May 29, 1453, the ‘enraged Turkish soldiers . . . gave no quarter’:

“‘When they had massacred and there was no longer any resistance, they were intent on pillage and roamed through the town stealing, disrobing, pillaging, killing, raping, taking captive men, women, children, old men, young men, monks, priests, people of all sorts and conditions… There were virgins who awoke from troubled sleep to find those brigands standing over them with bloody hands and faces full of abject fury… [The Turks] dragged them, tore them, forced them, dishonored them, raped them at the cross-roads and made them submit to the most terrible outrages… Tender children were brutally snatched from their mothers’ breasts and girls were pitilessly given up to strange and horrible unions, and a thousand other terrible things happened. . .'”

Mehmed II converted Hagia Sophia Cathedral, then the world’s greatest church, into a mosque. In 1934, the government of Turkey turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, then, in 2020, back into a mosque. The latest transformation fully displayed the government’s disrespect for religious liberty, particularly for Christianity.

A possible second reason for Turkey’s aggression against its neighbors (including Greece and Armenia) is its self-satisfied denial of the 1913-23 Christian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.

The pride that Turkish authorities take in the genocide, during which over three million Christians were killed, and the rejection of any accountability, enables the government of Turkey to commit similar crimes with ease. As Turkey’s Human Rights Association noted in 2016, “When a crime goes unpunished, it continues to be committed. Denial perpetuates genocide.”

Turkish citizens who publicly acknowledge Turkey’s genocide can, to this day, be tried in Turkish courts for “insulting the Turkish state”. Since the government of Turkey smugly and aggressively denies Ottoman Turkey’s genocide of Christians and has faced no consequences, its threats continue against Greece.

On January 27, Erdogan said at a public meeting of the ruling AKP party:

“Our struggle did not end with expelling the enemy [Greeks] from our lands and throwing them into the sea from Izmir.”

Erdogan was referring to the 1922 Turkish massacre against indigenous Greeks, Armenians, and other Christians in Smyrna (Izmir), which brought an end to that city’s millennia-long Greek civilization. Smyrna had been a majority-Greek city from ancient times until the 1922 massacre.

Lou Ureneck, a professor of journalism, went to Smyrna, did extensive research there on the city’s history, and wrote a book about the massacre. According to his research:

“In September 1922, the richest city of the Mediterranean was burned, and countless numbers of Christian refugees killed. The city was Smyrna, and the event was the final episode of the 20th Century’s first genocide — the slaughter of three million Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians by the Ottoman Empire. The slaughter at Smyrna occurred as warships of the great powers stood by — the United States, Great Britain, France and Italy.”

Many survivors fled to neighboring Greece. Property and land that the victims had left behind were seized by Turks.

The Turkish government’s stance on the genocide is a bizarre combination of denial and conceit. First, they say that their ancestors did not commit genocide and that it was merely a war of self-defense. Then, they proclaim “they [Christians] deserved it” and “if need be, we could do it again”.

Erdogan spoke at a rally prior to the March 31, 2019 local elections in Izmir, referring to 1922 and proudly said: “Izmir, which threw the kafirs [infidels] into the sea.”

Emphatic denial of the genocide or blaming the victims is the mainstream position across Turkey, including in schools, media, academia, politics and elsewhere.

Turkey’s genocide-denial can be clearly seen in its foreign policy issues. How is the government of Turkey supposed to respect international human rights law when it takes pride in having wiped out entire nations, such as the Armenians, Assyrians and Anatolian Greeks, and has taken no step toward restorative justice?

The foreign policy of the Islamist government of Turkey is, in fact, mainly shaped by its genocide denial in addition to its ideology of Ottoman-style violent conquests and territorial expansion, an approach which has created wars and massive instability in the region, as in Cyprus, Syria, Iraq, and Armenia.

Despite these practices of the Turkish government, on January 27, the US government approved the $23 billion sale of 40 new F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, after Ankara ratified Sweden’s accession to NATO. On March 1, US Senators declined to block the sale, despite strong opposition voicing deep disdain for Turkey’s conduct as an ally.

The US government seems to ignore that Turkey – acting as if it is the successor to the Ottoman Empire – does not stop threatening Greece, Cyprus and Armenia with military invasion.

Azerbaijan – with the support of Turkey – has been falsely referring to the entire country of Armenia as “Western Azerbaijan” and has been demanding that it either surrender or suffer a military invasion by Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan did in fact invade the Armenian Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) in September 2023.

Azerbaijan apparently now wants to conquer the Republic of Armenia as well. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev falsely calls Armenia’s capital Yerevan “historical Azeri land,” even though the Republic of Armenia has never been under Turkish or Azeri rule.

Turkey also denies the sovereignty and Greek identity of the Republic of Cyprus, 36% of which it illegally invaded and has been occupying since 1974. Cyprus had been a demographically Greek island for millennia, had also been occupied by the Ottomans from 1571 to 1878.

Erdogan, furthermore, has long been referring to Jerusalem, which was under Ottoman occupation from 1516 and 1917, as a Turkish city. “Jerusalem,” he announced in 2020, “is our city.”

Erdogan also announced that Turkey “firmly” backs terror group Hamas, which aims to destroy Israel and exterminate the Jews. Erdogan’s government indeed provides Hamas with military, financial, political and diplomatic support, and hosts its terrorist leaders, as Qatar does.

“Turkey is a US ally,” a recent report noted, “but should not be a trusted one.”

The US Congress would be well advised to reconsider its decision regarding F-16 sales to Turkey and this alliance altogether.

Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

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