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.
The Covid-19 pandemic may change many things in international affairs, but thus far, it has failed to alter the conflict dynamics in Syria. Even more, as the Astana trio’s recent initiatives have illustrated, the main players of the Syrian conflict are vying to deepen their footprints in the country.
Turkish foreign policy is premised on several drivers: domestic political considerations, the nationalist governing coalition’s needs and aspirations, the weight of the Kurdish question, economic constraints, and the geopolitical balancing act between Russia and the West and regional realignments. Each factor impacts the formulation of Turkish foreign policy to varying degrees.
The current global pandemic crisis (Covid-19) may affect international policy by transforming the foreign policy of many countries. Among these, the most affected could be the small-medium emerging powers that have pursued pro-active policies beyond their traditional regional borders, owing to the permissive multipolar environment. Turkey is amongst the countries that have widened the scope of their foreign policy in the last decade by following a multi-directional approach.
Turkish drones have by now become regulars in many skies of the Middle East and North Africa, playing an unprecedented role in some of the region’s major flashpoints. Confirming a remarkable domestic technological advancement, Turkey’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are at the forefront of an expanding indigenous defence industry, which aims to improve the country’s military might while serving as a launchpad of Ankara’s regional ambitions.