PYLOS, Greece – Marble statues are nothing new in Greece. Recently uncovered in the northern Greek town of Amphipolis are a couple of elaborately sculpted, fully hair-braided caryatids standing at the entryway to an elaborate Alexander the Great-era tomb.
Farther south, in the current Greek prime minister’s hometown situated on Navarino bay, the most notable monument in the quiet central square is a memorial dedicated to three Western military commanders who fought more recent battles than Alexander’s.
It is a maritime-adorned obelisk dedicated to three admirals who sailed to Greece to take on the Islamic caliphate. A few hundred yards away is where a coalition of Western powers made up of British, French and Russian naval forces entered the bay and destroyed the formidable occupying Ottoman fleet. The year was 1827 and it led to Sultan Mahmud II, self-proclaimed caliph, spiritual leader of all Muslims, declaring an ultimately unsuccessful jihad, or holy war, on European powers.
It is easy to draw parallels between those battles and today’s struggle against the Islamic State. Western success catalyzed Greece’s liberation and the eventual downfall of the Ottoman Empire. (read more)