Tuesday, 10 April 2012
Greeks of Egypt: the other homeland
Impressive documentary above from Al Jazeera on the long history of the Greek community in Egypt, from the Minoans to Nasser; but concentrating on the modern community, which began to form in the late 1700s and at its height amounted to 200,000 people. Lots of fascinating characters and detail, including the fact that Greek Egyptians felt so committed to Egypt that they joined up to fight against the Anglo-French invasion of the country in 1956.
One can only hope that Greece can take advantage of these ties to countries like Egypt to promote its geostrategic interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey aspires to yoke Egypt to its neo-Ottoman project and, in this way, achieve its aim of driving out Hellenism – particularly in the form of the Republic of Cyprus – from the Eastern Mediterranean. What Turkey is conniving at is an agreement with Egypt that links their Exclusive Economic Zones, as if Cyprus (and Kastellorizo) simply did not exist. Greece’s goal, of course, should be to cultivate Egypt and thwart Turkish expansionism. This shouldn’t be beyond Greece, especially since there is no evidence to suggest that Egypt – which has aspirations of its own to be a leading power in North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean – wants to be part of Turkey’s grandiose plans or shares Turkish nostalgia for the Ottoman empire. Turkey might believe its own propaganda about how tolerant and enlightened the Ottoman empire was – and they may have found enough apologists and stooges from Western Europe and the USA to encourage them in their delusions – but so far Turkey has made little real headway in its efforts to establish regional hegemony.