On Monday, 14 February 2022, around the topic ““Drones and Canons: Changing Balance of Power in and around the Middle East”, ROLES (RCAST Open Laboratory for Emergence Strategies) located in Tokyo, launched the RCAST Security Webinar series as a continuation of RCAST Security Seminar held during the academic years of 2021-2022. This was in cooperation with IGSDA (Institute For Global Security And Defense Affairs) located in Abu Dhabi.
The seminar was divided into two parts, this paper is of the second part titled “Part#02: “The Eastern Question Redux? Turkey’s Position Between NATO and Russia”. The speaker was Sayed Ghoneim, PhD in Political Science, Major General (Ret) of the Egyptian Armed Forces, Senior Strategist and Chairman of IGSDA.
Russia is the main supplier of gas to Europe through three pipelines. Turkey, at a time when it enjoys distinguished relations with Russia, “the crown of which is the Russian S-400 missiles for Turkey”, we see that Turkey has provided Ukraine with drones and joint ,military industries, and even it tried to be the regional mediator between Russia and Ukraine, which was declined by Moscow; not only because Turkey’s history with Russia is in The Black Sea and the Sea of Azov regions, and its regional surroundings are not welcomed by Russia at all; but also, Putin does not want to deal with Erdogan as a counterpart, in the time Erdogan always works to play roles in several regions including the Black Sea as equal power or even superior. Therefore, France, the strong European power who’s always against Turkish security approaches inside and outside NATO, would be better mediator between Russia and Ukraine, and even between Moscow, Washington and NATO, despite its conflicting stance with Russia in Mali. France – Russia main concern is the use of Wagner in Africa. Now France is trying to promote European defense, definitely without any success so far. Moreover, France has the presidency of EU till July, which explains Macron’s efforts to tackle the Russian/ Ukrainian crisis.
Traditionally, France is more focused on Africa and Middle East than on Eastern Europe; that’s maybe why it’s good reason to support its mediation in the Ukrainian crisis.
The flexible Turkish-Russian relations in Syria, the Middle East and the Balkans are basically at the expense of the United States in those the regions and even the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits are Russia’s most important outlet for the warm waters of the Mediterranean. As for the Russian/Turkish relations within the Black Sea, there are other dimensions.
On the other hand, Turkey, which owns highly efficient forecasting bodies, it has long anticipated Russia’s aggressive and currently escalating stance against Ukraine. Whether as a result of a war between Russia and Ukraine or as a result of the imposition of severe US/European economic sanctions on Russia, the gas coming from Russia through its three corridors to Europe will be disrupted.
In this regard, Turkey, which had bad relations over the past years with the US, I see that its positions and relations are changing. In the time that US policy on Turkey has recently converted to be lenient, also military cooperation and strategic preference are prevailed by the US, you find that Ankara is getting closer to the US.
Turkey, which is currently a competitor to Saudi Arabia in the most important pillars of its power, which is the Islamic ideological base, where Saudi Arabia used to consider itself the leader of Islamic countries by the mere presence of Mecca and Medina on its lands and in it is the Kaaba of Muslims and the mosque of their Prophet. However, Saudi Arabia desperately needs Turkey’s power in a strong Islamist alliance against Iran.
Turkey, which used to see Egypt (the giant demographic country, same as Turkey and to Iran) as the most important competitor to it in the Mediterranean, but it remains in dire need of it as an ally not as a rivalling country. The reason is that Egypt is influential state in Libya to the west, in Gaza to the east, in Sudan to the south and most importantly in the eastern Mediterranean to the north. Turkey and NATO see Egypt with its northern coast is the most cohesive coast, which and extends from Rafah at the border with Gazza in the east to Salloum at the Libyan border in the west. The US and NATO, even Russia, see the northern coast of Egypt as the most powerful lower jaw that can seize Russia in cooperation with the upper jaw, which is the cohesive coast of Turkey, not Greece or any other country in the eastern Mediterranean.
Then the Turkish-Iranian rivalry (the two former empires and the two demographic giant states), regardless of the temporary rapprochement between them at the expense of the current issues. Israel has always been the common enemy of Arab nationalist countries in their support for the Palestinian cause and of Iran. Had this state of affairs continued and Iran gained a measure of nuclear superiority, a situation would develop that might have posed a real threat to the very existence of Israel. However, today and due to Iran’s determination to expand its influence, its export of revolutionary doctrine, its continuous provocation of its neighbors and its support for various terrorist groups, Israel has succeeded in turning Iran into the common enemy for a range of Arab states amongst which number are the most important, powerful and richest ones.
The questions currently posed themselves are:
- What’s the true reason of the Russian escalation against Ukraine?
- How would be the relations between Turkey and the US-NATO?
- How would be the relations between Turkey and Russia?
- How would be the relations between Turkey, Iran and Israel?
- How would be the relations between Turkey and Egypt, KSA, UAE and Qatar?
2. The main reasons of the Russian escalation against Ukraine:
- The international dimension (international strategic rivalry):
In October 2021, the tension between China and Taiwan increased to a point that has not happened in 40 years, according to the Taiwanese Defense Minister, despite its recurrence.
In December 2021, Russia mobilized its forces on the borders of Ukraine, declaring the aggressiveness of its rhetoric towards its southern neighbors, which had been calm since the end of the war between them about seven years ago. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a proposal for a comprehensive security agreement with NATO, which was summed up in specific and explicitly demands from NATO and the US.
Based on what I mentioned above, I think that what happened recently from China in the South China Sea against Taiwan in October 2021, coinciding with Russia’s position in the Black Sea against Ukraine only two months later, is to achieve Sino-Russian goals, some of which are separate, and others are joint. The recent Chinese escalation against Taiwan is a message to the US showing the serious intention of China to establish control over the South China Sea, which the US considers the setting for sailing its Seventh Fleet, the largest in its military navy, in the context of the escalation between Beijing and Washington. The Russian escalation against Ukraine carries three clear demands, all of which seek to restore the old Soviet Union prestige and waste the successes and gains of the US and Europe since the collapse of the Soviet Union until now, maintaining a larger buffer zone between Russian and its Western enemies.
To achieve these two separate goals of China and Russia, it is necessary to push behind joint goals and interests for the two countries, mainly, is the dispersal of the US-European efforts in very important and dangerous strategic theatres (East Asia and East Europe), not to mention the increasing flare-up in several foci in the Middle East and the great challenges in Central Asia, such as Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and the Horn of Africa. Also, with the aim of increasing pressure on the United States with all its might, which further deprives Washington of monopoly on international decisions and reduces its focus on many regional and international issues that severely harm the interests of China and Russia. One of the most important of these issues is the current negotiations in Geneva regarding the nuclear agreement with Iran (US concessions are required), bearing in mind that Iran is the main regional opponent to the West in the Middle East at the security level.
- The Regional Dimension (Regional Strategic Balance):
Turkey is one of the very few countries in Europe and the world that has established relations and interests with both Russia and Ukraine, which theoretically enables it to intervene and mediate, as is the case in Central Asia, Afghanistan and other international issues and files. Despite this, Turkey still considers the “Donbass” is a Ukrainian territory Which greatly annoys Russia. Moreover, Turkey recently, during the past few years, supplied Ukraine with weapons and opened the door to joint industrialization.
Was Erdogan, in his recent behaviour towards Ukraine, aiming for what is currently happening? Was he counting his steps well, even if he did not intend it?
3. NATO and Turkey:
- Turkey’s importance to NATO and the United States:
Turkey was one of the first countries joined NATO on February 18, 1952, that is, with the beginning of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union, and seven years after the end of World War II. The reason for agreeing to Turkey’s membership in NATO despite its history rejected by several European countries, is that Turkey’s geostrategic location makes it occupy the southern front defensive line of NATO against the Soviet Union. Turkey is the true master of the Black Sea as it owns the strategic straits Bosphorus and Dardanelles, whose closure prevents the deployment of Russian forces from the Black Sea To the warm waters of the Mediterranean, and the same against the deployment of NATO forces from the Mediterranean to Black Sea. Turkey also plays and important role in its support for the countries separated from the Soviet Union in the Black Sea region. Also, Turkish location in the eastern Mediterranean is of critical geostrategic political and military importance vis-à-vis southern Europe and the Middle East.
- Features of the growing gap between Turkey, NATO and the US:
- In 2015, NATO withdrew their Patriot defense systems from Turkey which were deployed in Turkey at the beginning of the Syrian war. The US also refrained from providing Turkey with Patriot missiles. This pushed Turkey to buy two Russian S-400 air defense systems. In return, the US excluded Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program, and the US Congress imposed sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of the Russian missile system, while at the same time the US allowed Cyprus, with which Turkey maintains a long-standing territorial dispute, to begin purchasing American weapons. Not to mention the divergent Turkish strategies with NATO and the US in northeastern Syria, and evolving priorities in the eastern Mediterranean. There is no doubt that this trough in relations affected not only the interaction between Washington and Ankara, but also the cohesion within NATO and security developments in the Middle East.
- On the other hand, the US provided Kurdish elements (which are proscribed as terrorist) to fight ISIS (which are also proscribed as terrorist) in Syria.
- General Charles Wald, former deputy commander of US/European Command, stated that the US should withdraw its forces from Incirlik base in Turkey, and put them elsewhere with trustworthy allies amid Turkey’s growing anti-Americanism and strategic tilt toward US adversaries such as Russia and Iran. Which, I think, is what Turkey expects, especially after Erdogan threatened to prevent US forces from using Incirlik Air Base, which currently houses up to 50 US nuclear weapons.
- In the war between Russia-backed Armenia and Turkey-backed Azerbaijan, some NATO countries supported Armenia, such as France and Greece, and strongly condemned Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan. In December 2019, the US Congress passed resolutions condemning the Armenian Genocide for the first time in more than half a century
- Turkey opened its borders for the crossing of migrants towards Europe, which was considered by many Western capitals as an attempt of blackmailing EU and the European countries.
- Right-wing parties in Europe, which call for disengaging from Turkey, expelling it from NATO and not joining Europe, have risen. Even the left-wing media, such as the American newspaper The Washington Post, published articles calling for Turkey to be expelled from the Western alliance.
- In 2017, Turkey withdrew its forces from NATO exercises after using Erdogan’s name and Ataturk’s image on shooting boards at a training ground. “There can be no such alliance” Erdogan said
- After the failed 2017 coup against Erdogan, Turkey proceeded to retire and arrest officers who have orientations towards the West and increased in positions and promotions for generals who adopt orientations towards the East, especially Russia
- In 2019, European countries threatened Turkey with imposing sanctions on it for its gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. European countries showed support for Greece and Cyprus against Ankara.
Earlier, I noticed by myself that the US and the EU countries are in an opposite position toward Erdogan’s stances because of his frequent and unlimited independent regional manoeuvres and aggressive policies specially in Syria and Libya. These are in addition to the Turkish security stance in favor of Russia and Sochi summits; also, Turkish stance in the issue of refugees across its borders to Europe was very provocative.
All above is undoubtedly in the interest of Russia and what it has been planning for a long time. Rather, it’s a new point of gain for it at the expense of the US (in connection with the current circumstances).
But in the recent times, I see that The US’s stance to Turkey is converting, the US Policy on Turkey is getting lenient recently, despite the Biden administration’s liberal criticism. Military cooperation and strategic preference are prevailed to Turkey by the US.
The features of this conversion appeared with the beginning of 2022, when Turkey announced that it has been working on the details of a new mechanism to establish a positive and common agenda with the US.
“We can make problems more manageable with a strategic point of view and constructive stance,” presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin told Turkish political magazine Kriter on Jan. 4. “This allows us to work more closely in the areas we agree on. For all these, more radical steps need to be taken so that our strategic perspectives overlap.”
Also, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his American counterpart Antony Blinken held a phone call on Monday and discussed the establishment of a joint strategic mechanism between the two NATO allies. Erdogan and Biden also met in Rome in October, on the side-lines of the G20 Summit.
Although the details of the new mechanism have not been disclosed officially, statements from both sides hint at common denominators over some thorny issues, especially disagreements over Syria and Turkey’s expulsion from the F-35 jet program over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
In its relations with the US, Turkey aims that the US are that the US to end its support of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, considered a terrorist group by Ankara and getting a realistic, constructive approach by the US on the S-400 issue. Also, Turkey aims that the US takes conclusive steps against the transnational network of Fethullah Gulen.
In late October 2021, a US Department of Defense delegation visited Ankara to negotiate some issues about Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program. Turkey demanded reimbursement of $1.4 billion in return for its exclusion, or the potential purchase of 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 jets and 80 modernization kits to upgrade its domestic fleet.
Observers see that the US and Turkey have been at loggerheads over the issue of the Russian S-400 missile defense system purchase, divergent strategies in northeast Syria, and evolving priorities in the eastern Mediterranean. It seems the US and Turkey are unlikely to make much progress in reaching a consensus on northeastern Syria, however, both are likely to reach a compromise on removing Turkey from the F-35 program, and tensions with its rivals in the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum Mediterranean, and a strategy to contain Iranian aggression in the region.
Washington also supports Turkey’s recent rapprochement initiatives with its neighbors, especially its search for dialogue with Armenia, where Blinken recently said that the United States supports the steps taken by Ankara and Yerevan to mend strained relations.
Turkey is currently trying to accelerate the steps of normalization in the region by developing a positive agenda with several countries, in an attempt to return to the policy of zero problems with neighbors.
All above, we may notice on the ground and through media, but I think that the main reason that Biden’s policy on Turkey is recently getting lenient would be seen in two reasons; first one is in general, and second one is particularly related to current crisis in Eastern Europe.
First one in general is the Turkish strategic stances in the middle of the competition between the US and NATO and the strong partners China and Russia in the Middle East, East Europe, Central Asia, and in the Horn of Africa. This competition is escalating against the US and Biden’s administration sees how Turkey is a key country in several issues with Russia and in the Belt and Road initiative of China. Bearing in mind Biden’s “Realism” doctrine, which advances the US interests on the common values when it’s needed, keeping the US values as a tool of pressure when it’s also needed, and I think that 2022 is the year of interests more than values for the current US’s democratic administration.
Second reason, in particular, is the stance of Turkey (which is always so called “the second biggest military participation in NATO”) as the main geo-military-strategic formation of the southern front defensive line against Russia in the Black Sea. this is based on a permanent fear of a specific anticipation as next:
Today, assuming the worst-case scenario is that Russian navy forces started encircling Ukraine using in the Black Sea, even without declaring war officially (huge military exercise for example), this would show a clear aggression against Ukraine, and a very significant threat to the Ukrainian economy, which depends on exporting necessary goods to several countries.
In this case, NATO will have to think more about its most effective available options, which will depend not only on the willingness to intensify countermeasures, but also on the willingness to play an influential role for Turkey as a pivotal player, in connection with the goal of its decades-old annexation of NATO, as Ankara holds the key to the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, bearing in mind that this strategic advantage make each of Russia and NATO try to persuade Turkey to be in its corner against the other. The problem is that Turkey needs gas from Russia in this freezing cold, and Putin knows this, so which of the two sides will be the most successful in winning Turkey to his side? Is Erdogan in this case considered in trouble, or is he facing an opportunity to put pressure on the two superpowers and NATO?
On the other hand, outside the Black Sea, although Turkey faces very difficult economic circumstances but it’s also managing its relations in positive ways with its competitors enhancing its relations with them, resorting to some concessions from its side specially concerning Muslim brotherhood, the Eastern Mediterranean gas and the security issue in Libya.
Yes, Turkey tends now to move back to their former stand by the US and Israel, but this may take Turkey away from Russia and Iran, specially, that Iranian gas supply to Turkey has been cut recently, allegedly due to domestic difficulties.
4. Russia and Turkey
Considering the escalating gap between Turkey and NATO, Turkey has tended to share influence or participate with Russia in several regional issues as follows:
- The two countries negotiated a truce in Syria and reached common understandings in Idlib issue, the last stronghold of the armed opposition in Syria.
- The two countries also reached common understandings to stop the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, then Turkey and Russia deployed joint peacekeeping forces between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
- The two countries shared influence together in Libya, although their conflict of interests, but understanding between them never stopped.
- The two countries were able to overcome differences that almost ignited a war between them, including the downing of a Russian bomber attack aircraft by a Turkish fighter aircraft (US F-16) over the Turkish border and the killing of the Russian ambassador in Turkey at the hands of a Turkish security officer.
However, with Turkey’s announcement of Istanbul Canal linking the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, Russia’s anger aroused, as it will not be subject to the international exceptions that Russia enjoys when passing through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits.
5. Turkey and the current Ukrainian crisis:
- Turkey called for mediation in the Ukrainian crisis, but Russia does not consider Ankara the suitable mediator for the following reasons:
Turkey’s supplying Ukraine with weapons and opening the door to joint manufacturing, as Turkey provides military and technical support, including 12 drones, in addition to a contract to sell Turkish frigates to Ukraine, which increases Ukraine’s defense capabilities in the Black Sea
- Turkey also considers the Donbass an occupied territory – controlled by pro-Russian separatists – and recognizes it as a part of Ukraine and does not support its secession
- , this is while some NATO members have avoided selling arms to Ukraine, as Germany has completely refrained from selling batch weapons to Ukraine through NATO’s Support and Procurement Agency.
- Turkey’s refusal to recognize that Crimea is Russian, but rather shows sympathy towards the Muslims Turkic Tatar, and it also supports them. The stance of Turkey is because it believes that the fall of “Crimea” and the possibility of the occupation of Ukraine will lead to the expansion of Russian influence in the Black Sea on the expense of Turkey.
2. France is the ideal mediator in the Ukrainian crisis:
France – Russia main concern is the use of Wagner in Africa. Now France is trying to promote European defense, definitely without any success so far. Moreover, France has the presidency of EU till July, which explains President of France Mr. Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to tackle the Russian/ Ukrainian crisis. Traditionally, France is more focused on Africa and Middle East than on Eastern Europe; that’s maybe why it’s good reason to support its mediation in the Ukrainian crisis.
Some of European officials’ point of views other than France see Macron as a selfish person concentrating his mediation for his personal interests which may help him in his coming presidency elections. It’s well known that the true leaders of Europe are the Secretary General of the EU (Mr. Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen), President of the European Commission (Ms. Ursula von der Leyen), and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission (Mr. Josep Borrell). But they did not move toward the mediation with Russia of the Ukrainian crisis, possibly because they all know that European countries are not unanimously agreed on a unified European decision in front of Putin.
- Turkey’s growing support for Ukraine and war possibilities increase Turkish fears of Russian countermeasures, as follows:
- Disrupting wheat supplies to Turkey, which is currently suffering from a wheat crisis and its prices are rising.
- Disrupt the influx of Russian tourists.
- Escalation in Syria’s Idlib against Turkey and support for the Kurds.
- Disruption of Turkish agricultural exports to Russia.
- Disrupting the work of Turkish companies in the field of construction in Russia and the Caucasus.
- Targeting Turkish equipment in Ukraine.
- Escalation in Libya and Azerbaijan against Turkish interests.
In any case, I see that Russia deals with the Syrian file separately from the Ukrainian file with Turkey.
- Turkey’s possible position in the event of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:
Turkey may repeat its same stance it adopted in the Georgia-Russia war in 2008, where Turkey trained Georgian forces and supported them with weapons, but during the war between Russia and Georgia, Turkey committed itself away from both sides, it also obstructed the American passage to the Black Sea and allowed only small aid ships. However, we should bear in mind that Turkey today differs from Turkey in 2008 in terms of military power, as it is more self-reliant, but its economic situation is getting worse and cannot tolerate sanctions. However, Turkey needs European economy and NATO security.
6. Turkey roles and regional relations in the Middle East:
- Turkish/Israeli/Iranian relations:
The Turkish-Iranian rivalry (the two former empires and the two demographic giant states), regardless of the temporary rapprochement between them at the expense of the current issues. Israel has always been the common enemy of Arab nationalist countries in their support for the Palestinian cause and of Iran. Had this state of affairs continued and Iran gained a measure of nuclear superiority, a situation would develop that might have posed a real threat to the very existence of Israel. However, today and due to Iran’s determination to expand its influence, its export of revolutionary doctrine, its continuous provocation of its neighbors and its support for various terrorist groups, Israel has succeeded in turning Iran into the common enemy for a range of Arab states amongst which number are the most important, powerful and richest ones.
Turkey and Israel’s interests intersect in several intertwined points, the first of which from the Turkish point of view is the eastern Mediterranean gas, by urging Israel to complete the gas pipeline that runs from its fields to the European market to pass through Turkish territory instead of the proposed passage from Greece or the actual situation by exporting it from Egypt, in order for Turkey to have additional pressure cards in front of Europe, and also to benefit economically from traffic revenues in addition to diversifying its sources of gas, which is one of the important issues now for the Turkish economy. Therefore, we may notice that Ankara is flirting Tel Aviv, in an attempt to persuade it to export Israeli gas to Europe via Turkey. The reward for Israel might be the announcement of full Turkish normalization with Israel.
Concerning the Palestinian issue, Israel largely rejects the continued Turkish presence in support of the Palestinian in the Gaza Strip. On the other hand, the Israeli circles are looking forward to restoring relations between the two countries as before, especially in the military, industrial and commercial fields, therefore, the Turkish-American rapprochement may be in the interest of this goal. However, Israel understands well the nature of Erdoğan’s personality, who rejected Israeli influence inside the Turkish army, as before, which enabled Israel, through the Turkish army, an influence on the Turkish political decision.
- Turkish-Egyptian relations:
Despite the scalation between Turkey and Egypt through 8 years (2013 – 2021), then the recent attempts at rapprochement by Turkey, the three main intertwined issues between the two countries are: (demarcation of the maritime borders – Turkish intervention in Libya – Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood) have not been completely ended. A consensual solution that brings the two sides together, but the trade exchange between the two countries (slanting in favor of Turkey) and Turkey’s strong desire to join EastMid Gas organization as a member, urged Turkey to deescalate with Egypt.
On the other hand, Turkey used to see Egypt (the giant demographic country, same as Turkey and to Iran) as the most important competitor to it in the Mediterranean, but it remains in dire need of it as an ally not as a rivalling country. The reason is that Egypt is influential state in Libya to the west, in Gaza to the east, in Sudan to the south and most importantly in the eastern Mediterranean to the north. Turkey and NATO see Egypt with its northern coast is the most cohesive coast, which and extends from Rafah at the border with Gazza in the east to Salloum at the Libyan border in the west. The US and NATO, even Russia, see the northern coast of Egypt as the most powerful lower jaw that can seize Russia in cooperation with the upper jaw, which is the cohesive coast of Turkey, not Greece or any other country in the eastern Mediterranean.
- Turkish-Saudi relations:
The Turkish action towards the incident of killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Kashchichi has affected its relationship with KSA, which is expected to continue in its current coldness in the near future at least, especially with the weak trade exchange between both countries. However, Turkey may take a diplomatic role in Yemen between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
On the other hand, and in general, Turkey, which is currently a competitor to Saudi Arabia in the most important pillars of its power, which is the Islamic ideological base, where Saudi Arabia used to consider itself the leader of Islamic countries by the mere presence of Mecca and Medina on its lands and in it is the Kaaba of Muslims and the mosque of their Prophet. However, Saudi Arabia desperately needs Turkey’s power in a strong Islamist alliance against Iran. Also, at a time when Saudi Arabia is heading towards a secular project of openness and uttering Wahhabism and extremism, we find Turkey still hosting political Islam groups and investing its efforts in areas of Turkish influence.
The meeting point between Saudi Arabia and Turkey may be the drone project, and the development of relations depends on Ankara’s closure of the Jamal Khashoggi case.
- Turkish/UAE relations:
Erdogan has to open a new page with MBZ, but, personally, he’s not happy with his country’s rapprochement with UAE. In the time that Erdogan will never forget that MBZ was the one behind the 2016 military coup against him (as Erdogan claimed that time), Turkey seeks to increase rapprochement with UAE to maintain the steps return of relations which started in 2021, and activate the agreements that were concluded between MBZ and Erdogan in November 20201 and February 2022, in order to break the two countries’ competition in the eastern Mediterranean, the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan, which would be in coordination with Israel but it may be in conflict with Greece and Cyprus, and possibly with Egypt too, in addition to the influential role of UAE in Libya before the ceasefire. Therefore, Turkey aims to break the Emirati-Greek connection on the one hand, and on the other hand it tries to benefit from the investments into Turkish economy, beside relations between the two countries in the field of military industrial.
- Turkish/Qatari relations:
The relations between both countries are considered the most stable on the ideological, political, security and economic levels, but the main catalyst for this rapprochement is the difference and the multi-directional clash with the regional environment of the two parties, meaning that the strength of relations between Turkey and Qatar may be linked to Erdogan’s staying in power, the most important political supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as linked to the hostility of their competitors to the organization.
Qatar also aims to complete the quiet organization of the World Cup this year, in addition to trying to keep the base of contact with the Taliban, represented in its representative office in Doha, as an active center, a file that may witness various interactions between Qatar and Turkey to market their role in Afghanistan. And perhaps the latest Turkish-Emirati rapprochement, there is a dispute between Qatar and Turkey with food.
Turkey is a key country, Turkey is rising; However, Erdogan is the main problem for the US, Europe, and for several countries of Turkey’s neighbors in the Middle East and surrounding regions, not Turkey itself is the problem, therefore Erdogan’s departure from his position may be a goal, and then restoring better relations with Turkey would be faster.
Sayed Ghonim, Major General (Ret) of the Egyptian Armed Forces
PhD in Political Science, Port Said university – Fellow, Nasser’s Higher Military Academy
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