Why is Turkey’s military power significant in the East Mediterranean? - NEDRET ERSANEL

Why is Turkey’s military power significant in the East Mediterranean?

Thinking “they would call it controlled opposition,” French President Emmanuel Macron said, “We have a problem with Erdoğan, not the nation.” This is how we had sugar-coated it.

He had said a week ago, “Turks do not listen to reason.” We apparently only listen to force. According to this, who are the “Turks” Macron says “listen to force,” and “who are the Turks that do not have a problem” with Macron?

Since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the problem, the Turks who deserve to be treated with force are those who support him. Those who do not support Erdoğan, on the other hand, are those who do not have a problem with Macron and those like him.

After making this statement, the French leader attended the summit of seven EU Mediterranean leaders (the Mediterranean Seven), and after the summit he said, “We want to reengage in dialogue with Turkey.” It seems he did not get what he expected. He is facing the facts of life, however don’t expect him to change.

He will likely make similar statements ahead of the European Union Leaders’ Summit, which will be held at the end of the month. We will see who will say what following that summit.

But what is dialogue? Is there any point we agree on regarding the Mediterranean in general or the East Mediterranean in particular?

Our ships brushed against each other, and that is all. NATO told Paris, “a brush up will do no harm, but don’t come too close to them in any case.”

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Essentially, troops are not the best choice for a brush up. The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) do not like too much intimacy. Not us but Le Figaro was the first to say it: “Turkey is a superpower in the region, we should accept this before anything.”

The Jerusalem Post wrote, “Turkey is advancing towards becoming the leading military power in the Middle East.” Both confirm the nation’s defense industry is fast progressing towards becoming independent and sing praises for its armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, while they also mention the TAF’s presence in various regions of the world, and future goals including miniature hypersonic weapons.

The most important statement was made by the Washington Post. It was more elaborate. It followed the Turkish military’s “global footprints” through its presence in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Qatar, Somalia, the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC), Greece, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and other points, and connected them. (“Mapping Turkish Military’s expanding footprint,” Aug. 30, 2020, WP)

While following such reports that analyze the Turkish military with pride, we must also interpret them through the discourse of “Turkey abandoned diplomacy and is now using weapons to solve problems” adopted by the “Turks” Macron and those like him favor.

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The obvious acceptance is that after the coup attempt in July 2016, Turkey developed a new security perception (this can essentially be dated back to July 2015, namely the trench events), it started to build its defense beyond its own borders.

This was not “causing a problem”; it was done with the concept of “a problem may arise, but it is their problem.” We can say that it is essentially the military version of the political mantra, “To stand tall without being obstinate.”

Even today those who are trying to explain the point “where words fail” to those who advise diplomacy with Greece, or those who advise reconciliation with the countries that are boastfully listed as Turkey’s rivals, those who say “the conditions are not met” continue to be belittled, yet this is the situation.

The reason Ankara is using its military power as its informal tool of diplomacy is related to “Turkey’s power” as directly confirmed by Greek academics, journalists, retired admirals and generals.

Yes, Turkey may have been developing a stance for the last four-five years, but it has also been developing it for the past few decades. The composition of Turkey’s diplomacy and power today is likely to cause a problem in this sense! To put it in their words so they can better understand: this is realpolitik.

Finally, problems/crises arise because Turkey is in the game or on the ground a lot more and in a more expansive area. Their area of maneuver is narrowing.

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This “state of availability” takes root from the following questions: Is Turkey the old Turkey? Is EU the old EU? Are NATO and the U.S. the NATO and U.S. of the past?

We are living in a world where NATO declares China its arch enemy and the U.S. declares Russia its arch enemy, yet are China and Russia the China and Russia of the past?

Though the picture presented by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)/People’s Protection Units (YPG) in a manner that we had not seen for a long time, the Turkish Foreign Ministry delegation’s Russia visit may have been much more useful than we estimated.

The statement, “Turkey and Russia’s common stance in Syria gave the Damascus administration a wider advantage,” by the same Lavrov during his visit to Damascus are not to be taken lightly. His statements regarding Libya are just as significant. In fact, his words, “We will talk to the Greeks as well,” tells us that extremely sensitive discussions are being conducted in Moscow.

In the final analysis, Russia’s presence in the Mediterranean basin is not only to produce an interest but also to emphasize its defense. This emphasis is clearly dependent on Turkey’s endorsement.

The case is no different for the U.S. We are discussing Greece, yet the real deal is the military base in Dedeağaç (Alexandroupoli). Alexandroupoli is also the Balkans, the Black Sea, and China. And finally Greece. This is why a top-ranking Chinese delegation hastily came to Athens in efforts to guarantee the state of the ports.

Is the union of the Mediterranean and Middle East crises, all dimensions of the deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) not clear? What was the deal with Kosovo and Serbia at the White House?

How is Turkey going to push on these regions? With the Turks favored by Macron?

Why is the Arab League, whose reason for existence is Palestine’s existence, now, together with its members who just got out of bed with Israel, condemning Turkey’s presence in Syria, Iraq and Libya? Why is Iran now making statements with respect to taking a joint stance with Turkey against the PKK? Why is President Hassan Rouhani saying, “There are two powers in the region; one is Turkey and the other is Iran”?

How or with what are you going to get these regions to obey?


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