What does the future hold for the Middle East and North Africa? The second Rome MED Regional Meeting held last week provided an opportunity for experts to analyse and comment on the trends and challenges facing the region. The discussion was framed around MED’s 4 core pillars: Security, Prosperity, Migration, and Culture & Civil Society.
The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed comments on the MENA region's most significant issues and trends. Today, we turn the spotlight on the outcomes of the latest European Council, where the EU-Turkey relationship was discussed in light of the recent attempts to de-escalate the Eastern Mediterranean situation and Ankara's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.
What started as a diplomatic success and a unique occasion of interfaith dialogue for Iraq as well as its Kurdish autonomous region ended up triggering some unforeseen implications that have caused quite a headache for both Kurdish officials in Erbil and chancelleries in Ankara and Teheran.
In 2011, hardly anyone could have predicted that a decade later violence would still be crippling Syria. In the midst of hostilities, several other countries have become embroiled in the conflict. Amongst them is Turkey, which has turned out to be one of the central actors of the civil war. Undoubtedly, this situation has marked a crucial turning point in Ankara’s traditional foreign policy with the Middle East, previously centred on a “zero problem with neighbours” approach.
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey since 24 November 2015. He previously served in the same position from August 2014 to August 2015. He is a member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, where he represents Antalya Province.
On August 11, a Turkish drone strike in north-eastern Iraq killed two Iraqi border guards who were returning from an alleged conflict resolution meeting with representatives of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara, the US, and the European Union.
Over the last years, Turkey has increased its activism in the Mediterranean, becoming a key and assertive player in regional politics and crises. From the Eastern Mediterranean gas dispute to the Libyan war, Ankara has not hesitated to flex its muscles to safeguard its interests and achieve its goals. Turkey's activism is part of a wider foreign policy, which has become more and more militarized since 2015, aiming at extending its geopolitical influence in the Middle East and its surrounding regions.
After the massive defeat of the Libyan National Army (LNA) at the hands of Operation Burkan Al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage) - which supports the internationally recognized Government of Accord (GNA) - the new frontline is just west of Sirte, a city 370 km southeast of Tripoli and 350 km southwest of Benghazi, strategically located at the entrance to Libya’s Oil Crescent.
Israel's plan to annex the West Bank plan is viewed with great concern by Turkey along with the rest of the world. However, unlike other countries, Turkey is more sensitive to this issue. The Muslim majority of the Turkish population has heard and has sympathy for the oppressed Palestinian people in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Turkey has long been following international law with consistent policies, separating Turkey from all the other actors.
“It should be kept in mind that every disaster comes with opportunities”. These words pronounced by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the occasion of Europe’s Day reflect well the rationale of Turkey’s foreign policy approach during this pandemic.