As UAE sends its fighter jets to Greece to take part in a military exercise, Turkey has sounded an alarm against the country’s fighters – warning the Arab nation to stay within its limits.
The Turkish-Emirati relations are at an all-time low. With the ongoing tensions with Greece and the UAE coming out in support of Athens, the Turkish authorities have not hesitated to unofficially warn to ‘shoot down’ Emirati fighter planes if they come dangerously close to or do a violation of its airspace.
Just a few days ago, Turkish F-16s were scrambled to ward-off Greek F-16s which were heading for southern Cyprus where Ankara had issued a Nartex alert.
“We will not hesitate to shoot down any UAE aircraft if it approached the Turkish waters or the work area of Oruç Reis near Crete island in the eastern Mediterranean,” a Turkish defense source told Al-Quds Al-Araby.
The official also stated, “The UAE is trying to play a role which is bigger than its size. It is playing with fire. If it violates the redlines or it approaches the Turkish waters, it will receive a harsh lesson,” escalating the tensions to a dangerous level in the east Mediterranean.
The recent traction in the relations of Turkey and Greece began when Ankara sent an exploration vessel, Oruç Reis, escorted by its warships near the Greek offshore island of Kastellorizo. Following this, the Greek forces conducted military exercises with the French and Italian forces in the sea, with the UAE sending its fighter jets to support the drills.
Reports circulated in mass media that a call took place among defense ministers of UAE and Israel during the exercises, which Turkey described as an attempt by UAE to gain Israeli support against it.
Both nations have ramped up their naval presence, with none backing off. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that his country is not looking for trouble with the Greeks, and that dialogue could be the only solution.
“If we act with common sense and reason, we can find a win-win solution that meets everyone’s interests,” he said.
According to the sources, this concentration of ships in the region has not been observed since the mid-1990s. Whatever the real intentions of the states involved in the Mediterranean dispute, the over-saturation of the Eastern Mediterranean with military forces cannot but create the risk of an unintentional military clash, especially in the context of intense militaristic rhetoric.