By Micha’el Tanchum
December 30, 2019
Turkey upended the Eastern Mediterranean's strategic equation with its late November 2019 signing of maritime boundary and military cooperation agreements with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in war-divided Libya. By defining maritime borders with the internationally recognized administration in Tripoli, Ankara ostensibly has broken its regional isolation and gained greater legal standing to challenge the boundaries Greece established with Cyprus and Egypt upon which the current arrangements for Eastern Mediterranean natural gas development depend. While previously compartmentalized, Turkey's formalization of its commitment to Tripoli has interlinked an already tense maritime stand-off in the Eastern Mediterranean to a new escalation spiral in the Libyan Civil War in which Turkey's rivals possess escalation dominance over Turkey.
By Micha’el Tanchum
July 3, 2019
Turkey's provocative action of sending two drillships into Cypriot waters to explore for natural gas is a response to a grander provocation coming from the Republic of Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, and Israel to exclude Turkey from the marketing of Eastern Mediterranean gas. This common front, composed of interlinked security partnerships among the region's current natural gas producers and Greece, has been increasingly supported by the United States, France, and Italy, each of whom has significant economic investments in Eastern Mediterranean gas. For Ankara, its NATO allies' support of this common front is tantamount to a policy of soft containment against Turkey. The hardening of this containment through substantial naval support to the Republic of Cyprus as a response to Turkey's actions could send the Eastern Mediterranean into a dangerous escalation spiral that could permanently alter Turkey's relationship with NATO.
By Micha’el Tanchum
November 27, 2018
On November 13, 2018, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay stormed out of an international conference on Libya organized in Palermo, Italy, complaining about “attempts to keep Turkey out of the process” to resolve the chaos in the divided North African nation. Later, the Turkish Vice President vowed that "Turkey will continue to display its righteous and firm stance with determination in Cyprus, Syria and Libya." Oktay's actions and remarks in fact reflect Turkey's weak hand in Libya. A future Turkish show of force in Libya cannot be ruled out, but ultimately the change in the balance of power in North Africa toward Russia and Egypt has inevitably undermined Turkey's already challenging strategic position in the Eastern Mediterranean.
By Ozan Serdaroğlu
September 14, 2016
The new round of Cyprus peace talks kicked off with high expectations. Both the Turkish and Greek leaderships are aware that a lot could be at stake if the process fails to yield an agreement. But the prospects for achieving the reunification of Cyprus, forty-two years after it was divided, have never been better. As energy games intensify in the region, Turkey is arguably more interested by concrete gains in this field, rather than insisting on prolonging a stalemate that has lasted for more than four decades. The Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaderships have overcome a significant psychological threshold, engaging in a permanent dialogue. However, they need to build more trust in matters concerning Turkey.
By Nathan Shachar
July 8, 2016
Whatever dividends the fresh Turkish-Israeli rapprochement will bring, it reveals something fundamental about the new Middle East: the number of unknown variables in this ever less predictable environment is steadily growing, and even the most arrogant and unrepentant leaders will have to eat crow from time to time in order to salvage their national interests. Leaders who stand by their words and their principles will be severely handicapped.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.