TURKEY WORKS TO REVIVE THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Turkey at the Eastern Mediterranean Crossroads: Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, Dec. 18, 2018 — The eastern Mediterranean, an arena of great power struggles, has undergone dramatic changes over the past decade.
Turkey’s Expansionist Policy Exposed: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jan. 30, 2019 — The activities of the Turkish National Intelligence office (NIO) and the powerful Turkish Military Intelligence (MIT) have been exposed since the beginning of the so-called “Arab spring” in Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon.
Turkey: Uniting an “Army of Islam” to Defeat Just One Country: Uzay Bulut, Gatestone, Feb. 23, 2019 — Istanbul recently hosted the second “International Islamic Union Congress,” sponsored mainly by the Strategic Research Center for Defenders of Justice (ASSAM), which is headed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief military advisor, Adnan Tanriverdi, a retired lieutenant general and an Islamist.
Idlib May Split Russia — Turkey — Iran Alliance: Kamran Gasanov, RIAC, Feb. 20, 2019 — The last meeting within the framework of the “Astana Triangle” revealed, yet again, significant differences between Russia and Iran on the one hand, and Turkey on the other.
On Topic Links
Turkey Flexes Naval Muscle Amid Regional Tensions: Dorian Jones, VOA, Feb. 28, 2019 — Turkey is carrying out its largest naval exercises in a display of its rapidly growing navy.
Turkish-Russian Military Cooperation Deepens Amid US-Turkish Tensions: Dorian Jones, VOA, Mar. 12, 2019 — Russian and Turkish military cooperation is deepening as Ankara’s relationship with Washington deteriorates.
Turkey Announces Joint Raids with Iran Against Kurdish Rebels: Andrew Wilks, AlJazeera, Mar. 18, 2019 — Turkey and Iran have launched a joint military operation against Kurdish rebels along Turkey’s eastern border, according to an official.
Turkey: Putin’s Ally in NATO?: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone, Mar. 19, 2019 — On September 17, 1950, more than 68 years ago, the first Turkish brigade left the port of Mersin on the Mediterranean coast, arriving, 26 days later, at Busan in Korea.
TURKEY AT THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN CROSSROADS
Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak
The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, Dec. 18, 2018
The eastern Mediterranean, an arena of great power struggles, has undergone dramatic changes over the past decade. The “Arab Spring,” Egyptian military takeover, civil war in Syria, refugee waves, and Turkey’s deteriorating relations with the West and Israel – are the most important aspects of this drama.
However, these remarkable developments alone do not provide a complete picture of the forces transforming the region. Russia is once again establishing a permanent presence, while China seeks anchors for its “Belt and Road Initiative.” Moreover, the newly-discovered natural gas resources have turned the eastern Mediterranean into one of the most significant geostrategic maritime zones, which may reshape the regional balance power and the dynamics of European energy politics.
With its abundant natural gas reserves and opportunities for joint ventures, the eastern Mediterranean is emerging as an important region, shaping the balance of power and paving the way for new alliances. As a key player in the region, Turkey finds itself at a historic junction, where it must decide whether to proceed alone by challenging Israel, Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus – or whether to embrace regional cooperation.
Certainly the Egyptian, Israeli, and Cypriot discoveries of large new fields of natural gas have opened up new possibilities for joint pipeline projects to transport this bounty via Greece to Italy and to western Europe, or for liquefied natural gas (LNG) conversion to Egypt.1 This has paved the way for new alliances among Athens, Nicosia, Jerusalem, and Cairo, which the pro-Turkish government newspaper Yeni Şafak has described as an “axis of evil.”2
Given the “cold peace” between Egypt and Israel, Egyptian leaders generally refrain from posing before the cameras with Israeli counterparts. Yet thanks to the hospitality of Greece and the Republic of Cyprus, the four states have managed to form a quartet on two separate trilateral platforms, namely Israel, Greece, and Cyprus and in parallel Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus (whose latest tripartite summit, the sixth so far, was held in Crete on October 10, 2018).
Besides benefitting from the gas findings, these four capitals have another common reason to forge an alliance: Turkey. Indeed, with its Neo-Ottoman foreign policy, which often shuns the considerations and imperatives of realpolitik, Turkey appears to be a catalyst for this rapprochement. Ankara’s ongoing chronic disagreements with Athens over the Aegean continental shelf, and with Nicosia over the painful Cyprus question, reflect a centuries-old enmity. Now this historic animosity has been compounded by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s support for Islamists, his pro-Palestinian stance, his problematic intervention in in Jerusalem affairs, his attempts to delegitimize Egyptian President Abdal Fattah A-Sisi’s rule (following the 2013 Egyptian military takeover), and his on-and-off relationship with Trump. All this has pushed the other regional powers to form a semi-alliance against Ankara. Ankara’s open hostility and military interventions in northern Syria have negatively affected Turkey’s position in the eastern Mediterranean too.
In view of the above, Ankara has found itself isolated in the region. Having been ousted from all potential joint regional projects, Ankara appears to be cast in the role of spoiler, the “killjoy” of the region.
For example, by using its leverage on the Cyprus question and declaring the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to be void, Ankara seeks to thwart the big natural gas pipeline project mentioned above, even though it does not traverse Turkey. At the November 2018 summit in Crete, Turkey’s position drew severe criticism from Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus.
To analyze the fundamentals of this regional chess game, this study introduces the main players, their interests, and the main dynamics that drive their foreign policies, as well as their disputes, with a focus on Turkey. It starts by highlighting the importance of the energy find in the eastern Mediterranean as well as the legal situation related to this. It then provides a geostrategic basis for understanding the dynamics in the eastern Mediterranean and the current antagonism of Turkish foreign policy… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
TURKEY’S EXPANSIONIST POLICY EXPOSED
Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jan. 30, 2019
The activities of the Turkish National Intelligence office (NIO) and the powerful Turkish Military Intelligence (MIT) have been exposed since the beginning of the so-called “Arab spring” in Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon. The cover of their agents was disclosed, or their shipments of weapons destined to opposition groups in the various Arab countries were caught on suspicious ships flying dubious flags, disguising the real identity of senders and recipients.
The particular motive behind this Turkish clandestine interference has been assisting militant groups belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical organizations in each and every country in such a way as to destabilize political rivals (such as Egyptian President Sisi and Syrian President Assad). Simultaneously, these furtive efforts sought to promote the greater designs of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for Turkish dominance in the Middle East as part of the revival of the Ottoman Empire legacy.
The activities exposed by journalists are only the tip of the iceberg; covert activities carried out by the Turkish secret services in different Middle Eastern countries are usually unheard of and unknown until a “gaffe” or miscalculation by the Turks offers a rare view of Turkish subversive actions in the area. Such was the case in Egypt, when the Egyptian secret services caught Turkish intelligence officers red-handed assisting Islamic State extremists in the Sinai Peninsula and when Greek authorities intercepted a ship loaded with a Turkish shipment of weapons supposedly destined for Muslim radicals in the northern part of Lebanon. [See “Egypt Accuses Turkey of Subversion,” JCPA, July 14, 2015]
The Turkish courts themselves were the scene of testimonies that Turkish ammunition and mortar shells taken from Turkish intelligence depots were transported in trucks accompanied by state officials to parts of Syria under extremist Islamist rebel control.
December 2018 offered additional evidence: In two separate incidents, Libyan customs caught two shipments of weapons in the port of Misurata on December 17, 2018, and one day later in the port of Al-Khoms-100 kilometers east of Tripoli, originating in Turkey and made by the local defense industry. In a statement released by the Libyan army on December 19, the army expressed its concern saying, “The ammunition in those shipments included more than 4.2 million bullets, enough to kill nearly 8o percent of the Libyan people, as well as pistols and assaults and hunting rifles with their accessories, including silencers used for assassinations.”
Libyan National Army chief, Khalifa Haftar, called on the United Nations Security Council to condemn Turkey for the violation of the embargo imposed by the UN since February 2011. Haftar also accused Turkey of conducting subversive activities in Libya by supporting illegal armed groups and terrorists. The General Command of the Libyan National Army called on the UNSC to initiate an immediate investigation into Turkish involvement in supplying weapons to militant groups in Libya. Libya’s appeal to the UN was joined by Algerian officials, who denounced the Turkish shipments, while stating that their purpose was to destabilize Libya and send an arsenal to unstable regions and termed the Turkish action as tantamount to “a real declaration of war against us.”
Beginning January 2019, the Libyan authorities announced the discovery of a new shipment of weapons originating from Turkey on a ship which had docked at the Misurata port. According to the Libyan customs, the shipment included 20,000 Turkish-made pistols (by EKOL-VOLTRAN, a Turkish company) hidden in a container full of toys and houseware… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
TURKEY: UNITING AN “ARMY OF ISLAM” TO DEFEAT JUST ONE COUNTRY
Gatestone, Feb. 23, 2019
Istanbul recently hosted the second “International Islamic Union Congress,” sponsored mainly by the Strategic Research Center for Defenders of Justice (ASSAM), which is headed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief military advisor, Adnan Tanriverdi, a retired lieutenant general and an Islamist.
At the conference, Tanriverdi delivered a speech detailing the inner workings of the “Islamic Confederal State” that ASSAM aims to establish with 61 Muslim countries. In his address, Tanriverdi said that a “rapid deployment force” should be created. Judging by an article Tanriverdi penned in 2009, the purpose of this joint Islamic force is to defeat Israel, which “should be made to get engaged [in war] and the length of the war should be extended.”
“If Israel has to call all of its reserve soldiers to duty,” he explained, “there will be no one left at home or in their businesses. It cannot continue like that for a long time.”
Tanriverdi also suggested how this could be accomplished:
“The Defense Ministers of Islamic Countries should be invited to an urgent meeting, at which possibilities for ‘defense cooperation’ should be examined; Turkey, Iran, Syria, the Iraqi Resistance Organization and Palestine should be the core of this cooperation.”
Within this context, he said, a “‘rapid Deployment Force of Islam,’ which will consist of an amphibious brigade, an armored brigade and an aero-landing brigade, should be encouraged.”
He went on:
“A peace force of Islamic countries should be deployed in Gaza… International efforts should continue, and the use of military force in Islamic countries should be encouraged. A joint military operation by our ground, naval and air forces should be carried out in the international waters of the Eastern Mediterranean. Aid convoys from Turkey, accompanied by Turkish warplanes, should land at the Gaza port. The resistance movements in Gaza should be supported with anti-tank and low-altitude anti-aircraft weapons.
“An aid fund should be formed by Islamic countries; the monthly budget of the legitimate Palestinian government should be paid from this fund and every adult individual in [the Palestinian territories] should be paid a monthly salary… Egypt should be pressured to open the Rafah border crossing. Syria should be encouraged to enhance its military presence on the Israeli border.”
Tanriverdi also claimed that:
“Turkish states, throughout history, prevented 21 crusades through which the West targeted Islam. Turkey did not get involved in the invasions following World War II, the establishment of the State of Israel and the US invasion of Iraq, which we could call the 22nd, 23rd and 24th crusades. It is Turkey’s duty to rectify this. Avoiding this responsibility would be contrary to our historic mission, our commitment to the civilization to which we belong and to Turkey’s survival.”… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
IDLIB MAY SPLIT RUSSIA -TURKEY – IRAN ALLIANCE
RIAC, Feb. 20, 2019
The last meeting within the framework of the “Astana Triangle” revealed, yet again, significant differences between Russia and Iran on the one hand, and Turkey on the other. But unlike the September “no-deal” summit in Tehran, the discussion in Sochi was based specifically on the governing terms of a detailed Memorandum on Stabilisation of the Situation in Idlib. According to the document, Ankara was obligated to withdraw the militants and weaponry from the 20-kilometer demilitarized zone (DMZ).
However, the ceasefire-agreement did not protect the triangle alliance from “pitfalls” which existed from the very beginning of the Astana-format. The very basic premise of Turkey, notwithstanding the shared allied support for the territorial integrity of the Arab country, differs fundamentally from the one adopted by its partners, Russia and Iran. More specifically, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani call for the transfer of all the territories, including Idlib and East of the Euphrates, to Bashar Assad, while Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists on the transfer to the “Syrians themselves”, that means to the opposition – the “National Liberation Front” (NFR) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
While in Sochi, all three presidents agreed that the Idlib province should be cleared of Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham (HTS). But by which means? Erdogan is trying to do this by enticing terrorists to the camp of the SSA and other pro-Turkish groups, which also include “Huras-ad-Din”, “Ahrar ash-Sham”, etc., or through forceful pressure – with help of this loyal groups. But, so far, Ankara has not succeeded in pursuing this strategy. During the last month HTS had expanded its territories, almost destroyed “Huras-ad-Din”, and cut off the communication routes between Afrin and Idlib. Most recently, the former “Al-Nusra”, without a fight, established control overthe Idlib city of Maarrat al-Nu’man.
According to Hassan Rouhani, HTS has captured “up to 90% of the territory of the region.” In response, Turkey sent additional manpower and military equipment to its provincial observation posts. In the meantime, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is deploying its heavy artillery and military forces from the south.
Turkey, to put it mildly, is not delighted with what is happening at its south-western borders, realizing that it is not capable of singlehandedly freeing Idlib from the HTS. Carrying out a military operation requires huge financial costs and manpower. The probability of human casualties is considerably increasing. Criticizing the idea of allowing the SAA to enter the region, Erdogan has repeatedly stressed the importance of refraining from “bloodbath”, which will inevitably lead to the migration of a million Syrians to Eastern Anatolia, and, from there, to Europe. The worse scenario for Erdogan is if the “regime”, not recognized by Ankara, engages militarily into Idlib… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]