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A French marine observes the Romanian Navy frigate 'Regele Ferdinand' from one of the windows of the ATL2 Atlantique 2 airplane over the Black Sea during the Sea Shield 2023 military exercise off Constanta, Romania, on 30 March 2023. Photo by DANIEL MIHAI

Through its war against Ukraine and geopolitical revisionism in the Black Sea, Russia seeks to establish uncontested hegemony and project influence beyond its neighbourhood and into the Western Balkans, South Caucasus, Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. This would allow Russia to challenge European security from multiple positions.

Geopolitical competition in the Black Sea is redefining regional order, changing its geopolitical identity, and shaping relations between states in the wider region. It has also hollowed out the once popular idea of regional order premised on regional ownership and laid bare how the security of different regions is interlinked. The Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean have increasingly merged into one geopolitical space, where regional and great power rivalries play out.…  Seguir leyendo »

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hands with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (L) in Athens, Greece on December 07, 2023. (Photo by Mustafa Kamaci/Anadolu via Getty Images)

During his visit to Athens on 7 December, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed a new era of friendship with Athens and talked about turning the Aegean into a sea of peace. His counterpart, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, was similarly effusive and welcoming, emphasizing both sides’ shared historical responsibility to mend ties.

To outside observers, this language might come across as mere diplomatic niceties. However, context matters: only a few years ago the two countries were routinely exchanging threats, and an eruption of a conflict was seen as within the realm of possibility.

A thaw in Greco-Turkish relations is welcome news at a bilateral level, but also positive for Eastern Mediterranean security, which is currently defined by the Hamas–Israel war, unresolved conflicts in Syria and Libya, and a frozen crisis in Cyprus.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (4th right) attends the 44th Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Doha, Qatar on December 05, 2023. (Photo by TUR Presidency / Murat Cetinmuhurdar / Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

On 4–5 December, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Doha to attend the ninth meeting of the Turkey–Qatar Supreme Strategic Committee and the 44th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit.

Erdogan’s attendance at the GCC summit in particular underscores the direction of Turkey’s regional policy of recent years and its approach to the Gaza war.

Indeed, Erdogan’s presence at the GCC meetings reflects the sea change in Turkey’s relations with the Arab–Gulf states, bearing in mind that Ankara was engaged in a fierce rivalry with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi only a few years ago.

Turkey’s presence at this summit also sheds light on its policy towards the Gaza war.…  Seguir leyendo »

Des Palestiniens prennent le contrôle d’un char israélien après avoir traversé la barrière frontalière avec Israël depuis Khan Younès, dans le sud de la bande de Gaza, le 7 octobre. Said Khatib / AFP

L’opération « Déluge d’al-Aqsa », menée le 7 octobre courant par le Hamas, le conflit qui s’est ensuivi et l’invasion israélienne imminente de Gaza représentent un tournant qui affecte le processus et la dynamique en cour au Moyen-Orient. Avant le déclenchement du conflit actuel, les discussions sur la politique régionale étaient dominées par les notions de normalisation et de désescalade. Il existait différents modes de restructuration régionale. Le dégel était à l’ordre du jour dans les relations entre les États arabes du Golfe, la Turquie et Israël, tandis que les relations israélo-iraniennes et les relations turco-iraniennes étaient plus tendues. En outre, de grandes incertitudes planaient sur le sort des nombreuses zones de conflit régionales.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Turkish flag waves over the Mosque in Uskudar district on 8 May 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Aziz Karimov/Getty Images.

Following his re-election, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced his  cabinet, and it has been well received both domestically and internationally.

Turkey’s new foreign minister, Hakan Fidan, is a powerful former spymaster who has transformed the nexus of Turkey’s intelligence, security and foreign policy ecosystem, and one of the chief architects of its geopolitical activism. The new finance minister is the market-friendly former Merrill Lynch economist, Mehmet Simsek. Both are experienced and well-regarded names with close working relationships with their international counterparts. Another experienced name with an economic background, Cevdet Yilmaz, will serve as vice president.

These appointments signal there will be a close connection between Turkey’s foreign and economic policies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ballot papers in Ankara, Turkey showing candidates for the country's presidential election. Photo by Mustafa Ciftci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

The recent virtual ceremony to inaugurate Turkey’s first nuclear power plant saw Vladimir Putin describe it as a ‘flagship project’ in strengthening Russian-Turkish relations – a sentiment echoed by Turkish president Recep Erdoğan in  referring to the plant as the ‘biggest joint investment’ with Russia.

This $20 billion project is being constructed – and owned for its first 25 years – by Russian energy company Rosatom, with Turkish company Akkuyu as the local operator. The size is impressive – Putin claimed it is the ‘largest nuclear construction project in the world’ – but the timing of its unveiling is also noteworthy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkish commandos, crucial in the country's anti-terrorist operations, train at the Isparta Egirdir Mountain Commando School and Training Center Command in Isparta, Turkey. Photo by Suleyman Elcin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

With NATO’s new Strategic Concept being designed to address a global security environment defined by the great power competition, it was key for Ankara to ensure that the issue of terrorism was not de-emphasized, and so the fact this remained a major part within it was a win for Turkey.

Putting aside major global subjects such as climate, cybersecurity, or competition over space, it is state-centric and conventional security threats that ultimately define the spirit of this document.

Moving forward, Ankara will likely use this document – and its new trilateral memorandum with Sweden and Finland – to press NATO and its members to provide more support in its fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and to refrain from supporting the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and its associated Democratic Union Party (PYD).…  Seguir leyendo »

The Russian navy's diesel-electric Kilo class submarine Rostov-on-Don sails with an naval ensign of the Russian Federation through the Bosphorus Strait past Istanbul on the way to the Black Sea. Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images.

Turkey’s traditional policy on Ukraine – a mix of deterrence with dialogue towards Russia – is now in need of revision with the failure of the first part. But although deterrence has failed, Turkey is still pursuing the dialogue aspect by trying to mediate between the two sides. As expected, Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers’ meeting in Turkey has not produced a result, but it was a boost for Turkey’s international stature.

What has followed since the invasion is not a new policy – yet – but is a new discourse set to induce revisions to the existing policy. Crucial in this new language is that Turkey has started to use the word ‘war’ to define the invasion, which requires Ankara to then restrict the passage of Russian warships through its straits as outlined in the Montreux Convention of 1936 – as it then did a few days into the invasion.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkish police help people who are waiting for evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on 22 August 2021. Photo by Turkish Interior Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

At a time when many countries are leaving Afghanistan, Turkey has been searching for ways to stay. By helping run Kabul airport, Ankara believes it can gain a foothold in Afghanistan, which would in turn help it achieve its broader goals. However, the Afghanistan crisis is becoming increasingly regionalized and Afghanistan’s neighbours are likely to play a more prominent role, while Turkey – devoid of a security role – will at best be a marginal player.

In order for Ankara to leverage Afghanistan for other purposes, it first needs to ensure any role it plays at Kabul airport has a security dimension to it and is not a strictly technical or civilian role, partly because Ankara lacks other sources of influence in the country.…  Seguir leyendo »

Child watches ceremonial soldiers patrolling in front of Anitkabir mausoleum on the 102nd anniversary of the commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day in Ankara. Photo by ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images.

Although there is no golden era in Turkish-Egyptian relations, the post-2013 period has been exceptionally bad. Turkey was the most vocal opponent of the Egyptian coup of 2013 which removed the country’s first democratically-elected Islamist president Mohammed Morsi from power, while Istanbul became one of the main destinations for the Egyptian opposition fleeing the post-coup crackdown.

Ankara’s relations with the Abdul Fattah al-Sisi regime and the ‘anti-Arab Spring’ camp which included Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) nosedived as a result, and have been largely acrimonious and icy since, with the Libyan conflict and the Eastern Mediterranean crisis further aggravating the situation.…  Seguir leyendo »

A medida que la OTAN cumple 70 años de su fundación, se enfrenta a una crisis única en su historia. Turquía, miembro de la Alianza desde 1952, ha llevado a término un acuerdo de compra de un sistema de defensa aéreo S-400 a Rusia. Si la transacción se hace realidad, se pondrá en cuestión su carácter de miembro de la organización, y sus vínculos más generales con Occidente.

A pesar de las advertencias de Estados Unidos y la OTAN, Turquía parece decidida a continuar el proceso de adquisición del S-400. Y, a su vez, esto ha provocado amenazas cada vez más estridentes de los Estados Unidos.…  Seguir leyendo »