Between the Mediterranean and Black seas, there are several crises whose protagonists are a complex network of allies and opponents. These crises seem to share one element in common – the fight against the growing influence of Turkey in its strategic scope.
The crises and conflicts are many – the conflict in Libya between a legitimate government and the forces of Khalifa Haftar; the eastern Mediterranean crisis resulting from the Turkish-Greek dispute; the disagreements over dealing with the Palestinian issue and the complex crises in Syria, and the outbreak of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Everywhere, we find Turkey as an actor, either alone or through the support of one of the parties, and none of these crises can be read in isolation from the rest. They have a direct impact on each other.
In this article, I will try to deconstruct this entanglement to understand the implications more clearly.
In Libya, where the alignment seems clear, Turkey and Qatar are clearly behind the legitimate government in Tripoli, while the UAE and France support Khalifa Haftar. The Egyptian and Russian support for Haftar further complicates the scene, as the Egyptian President Al Sisi announced more than once that Sirte represents a red line.
Russia, for its part, was content with supporting Haftar through mercenaries and avoided an explicit stance in his support, and with the fragile ceasefire, each camp continues to mobilize forces waiting for the decisive battle.
In the eastern Mediterranean, the same network of players appears, but in a more complex scene. The dispute here is between Greece and Turkey over maritime borders, the economic zone, and the rights of the two parts of Cyprus in the Mediterranean. Here, Greece benefits from Egypt’s support
through a maritime agreement and France has clearly declared its position. The UAE supports Greece through the media and politically, and in this crisis, relative calm also prevails with the beginning of the Turkish-Greek negotiations, but with Turkey’s commitment to continue exploration and Greece’s demand for greater European support, the crisis still continues and can escalate at any time.
The Emirati-Bahraini normalization with Israel should be seen within the framework of these crises, even if it is in different circumstances. It was related to other conflicts because the Emirati-Israeli normalisation is meant to limit the Turkish role in the region; Therefore, the Turkish statements were aggressive in this context, and Palestinian politician Muhamamd Dahlan’s bid to emerge as a leader comes as a special provocation to Turkey, which considers him an explicit enemy in view of of his past and his current role in working against Turkish interests.
There is no doubt that the Israeli plan to explore gas in the eastern Mediterranean represents an additional factor in the confrontation between all sides.
The changing and fluctuating network of interests in Syria still poses a major threat to Turkey in its neighborhood. Although the American support for Kurds has almost completely stopped there, the Russian evasiveness that shifts between coordination with the Turks and directly targeting
Turkish forces is draining Ankara politically and militarily, and behind the scenes, this drama continues.
The Emirati contacts with the regime and support for Syrian Kurds represent a direct intersection with Turkish interests. These developments have delayed Turkish efforts to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees and install a stable local government in the areas that are linked militarily to Turkey.
The outbreak of the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia confirms the formation of the network of Turkey’s opponents and its allies. Despite the conflict of interests, or its absence, among the supporters of Armenia, they all support it in the face of Azerbaijan, which is supported by Turkey. Russia, France, and the Emirates have close relations with Armenia, despite the seemingly principled positions.
These forces showed political and military support for Armenia in the past, and the last of that was the Russian loan to Armenia to buy Russian defence systems and weapons, despite the presence of France and Russia alongside the United States in leading the Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is the official mediator between the two parties to the conflict.
The French and Russian positions represent a clear support for Armenia, and gas is the most important link between what is happening between Armenia and Azerbaijan with the eastern Mediterranean crisis. Turkey has worked over the past years to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.