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11/18/2020

Contradictions at the heart of the political deadlock in the Eastern Mediterranean

Contradictions at the heart of the political deadlock in the Eastern Mediterranean

The Eastern Mediterranean has become one of the frontlines in the ongoing geopolitical polarization. This polarization in the region is not only between Turkey and Greece: the conflict is mainly taking place between the Eurasian and the Atlantic camps. Greece is little more than a pawn of that camp.

On the anti-Turkish front, the major powers of the Atlantic camp have united, including the United States, Israel, France, Greece, and Southern Cyprus – and now, we can also add the United Arab Emirates. There is no doubt that their military operations and the competition for gas explorations in the region are targeted against Turkey, but it is also clear that it is not Turkey alone which is being targeted.

The main goal of the Atlantic camp is to lock Turkey down in a small region and to make Ankara kneel, as well as to open the doors of Eurasia to realize their colonial interests.

Turkey, on the other hand, is standing tall at the gates of Eurasia on this issue. It should be underlined that Turkey does not do this only in the name of its own national interests, but also in the name of the security and prosperity in all of the Eurasian Geography. Therefore, the plans and activities of the anti-Turkish front in the Eastern Mediterranean, threaten Eurasia as a whole.

War can be prevented or won by force

For this reason, Turkey has the potential for a large alliance in the Eastern Mediterranean. The both the contradictions between Eurasia and Atlantic and the inner conflicts within Atlantic camp, offer some significant opportunities for Turkey.

It is imperative that Turkey make use of these opportunities. Any war, “cold” or “hot”, is ultimately won or prevented by force. Of course, Turkey’s primary force is the Turkish nation itself and its own military. The main factor here are the internal dynamics, but given the strength of the enemies, the international alliances are needed to counter the threat.

The US hunt for new allies

While even a major force like the United States is looking for allies to implement its imperialist ambitions in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the whole world, it is not wise for them to push Turkey away. This chain of international alliances can prevent hot conflicts and force the other side to behave.

On the one hand, the United States is fortifying its own camp by agreements signed under the name of “normalizing relations with Israel”, while trying to isolate Turkey on the other. Beyond that, the US is trying to force a break between Turkey and its potential allies. In short, a strategy of leaving Turkey without allies and making it easy to defeat is being pursued.

The Russian-Atlantic contradiction in the Eastern Mediterranean

In such a scenario, it is inevitable for those who face the same threat to unite against the common goal. Russia is a critical player in this regard.

If we look at it in context of the Eastern Mediterranean:

– The Eastern Mediterranean is the first important step toward reaching the Black Sea for the Atlantic powers. Turkey being weakened in this struggle would mean the gates of the Black Sea would be open to the United States. Some tensions parallel to the ones in the Mediterranean are taking place in the Black Sea between the USA/France and Russia, especially when it comes to the airspace. Rarely does a day go by without a Russian aircraft intercepting the American Air Force. The Mediterranean and the Black Sea are geopolitically lined up on a single axis.

– The ultimate solution to the Syrian crisis depends on the events in the Eastern Mediterranean. The superiority of the US and its allies in the region would make the ultimate victory in Syria much more difficult. Russia cannot remain neutral to this issue in this sense either.

– The US has just lifted its arms embargo on Southern Cyprus. Their condition is that the Greek Cypriots take a stance against Moscow. The joint military exercises between the American Armed Forces and the Greek Cypriot Army have already started. Mike Pompeo’s recent visit was also an important step in this direction. During his speech in the military base in the island of Crete, Pompeo indicated that Russia was the target in the Eastern Mediterranean. He stated that they have agreed with the Greek Prime Minister in order to put the options for a stand against Russia on the table.

The US, on the other hand, is preparing to move the Incirlik Air Base to Crete. The American presence in Crete is already seen as a threat by the Russian authorities. (For the example, see Vitaly Naumkin, What Does the Future Hold for the Middle East?

-The EastMed project, which is initiated by Israel, Greece and Southern Cyprus, directly targets the transfer of Russian gas to Europe. The intersection of Turkish-Russian common interests also comes forth at TurkStream.

– The anti-Turkish activities of the Istanbul Patriarchate are not separate from the Eastern Mediterranean clash. The Patriarchate and the American Metropolitanism, level attacks against Turkey regularly on behalf of the US and Greek camp. (For details see Mehmet Perincek, Secret details of the Trump-Greek Orthodoxy Patriarchate talks ) The Istanbul Patriarchate, which has been standing against Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, is also targeting Russia over Ukrainian issues.

– Financial relations between Russia and Southern Cyprus are also experiencing serious problems. The Russian investments in Southern Cyprus are also at risk in this context. The TRNC may be an important alternative for Russia in this regard.

– Pressure on ethnic Russians living in Southern Cyprus has also increased. In addition to those who have been expatriated, racist attacks against ethnic Russians living in Southern Cyprus have also become common.

These contradictions between the Russians and the Atlantic front in the Eastern Mediterranean need to be developed in terms of Turkey’s own success and security.

Is Ahmed Maiteeq a candidate for advancing Turkish-Russian cooperation in Libya?

In this sense, the events in Libya have also become important. We have already discussed the issue of a Turkish-Russian cooperation in Libya in detail in a previous article. (See Mehmet Perincek, A holistic strategy is needed to ensure Turkey’s success in Libya)

Now, there is an important opportunity for this collaboration to be actualized. A truce has now been reached. At this point, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq has come forward in Libya.

Maiteeq is the deputy prime minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is already cooperating with Turkey, but he is also in support of a close relationship with Russia as well.

Born in 1972, Ahmed Maiteeq comes from a prominent family of Turkish origin, from the city of Misrata. His grandfather was a man named Ramadan Asswehly, who fought against the Italians alongside Mustafa Kemal in the Battle of Tripoli. This Libyan statesman does not have a connection to the Muslim Brotherhood. He is an individual that each side can approach without prejudice, putting aside their previous arguments. He also does not have any connection to the extremist groups in the region.

Mateeq also reached an agreement with the authorities in the eastern Libya last September to boost oil production and export. The agreement was not confirmed to have taken place by the GNA. Maiteeq said that this agreement was an economic one, and not a political one, and that Sarraj did not oppose the deal, but had negotiated some parts.

In a recent interview, Maiteeq was asked if he was running for prime minister, which he answered saying that that was the decision of the Libyan people, not him. (See Ahmed Miitig : «Pour la première fois, Haftar a donné son accord au deal pétrolier»)

Cavusoglu also responded similarly to the question of whether Maiteeq would be the right person to handle this transition process, saying “It is now up to Libyans to decide on the structuring of the new executive branch.”

The other possible candidate is Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, notable for his pro-US statements. We have written about this topic in previous articles.

The issue of who will take over the seat left by Sarraj in Libya is closely related to Turkish-Russian cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Under what framework should rapprochement with Egypt take place?

It is highly important for Turkey to normalize its relations with Egypt and reach an agreement in the Eastern Mediterranean in order to secure its position and eliminate the threats. However, a Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement in Libya is also part of the US’ plans. Their plan is to disrupt any understanding that develops between the two countries to justify the deployment of the American military in the region.

In this regard, the normalization of relations between Ankara and Cairo should take place in a way that restricts the intervention of the Atlantic front in the region, within the interests and the free will of the countries of the region. It is not only important that the two countries normalize their relations, but also that these relations are normalized under specific pretexts.

Contradictions within the Atlantic camp

Contradictions which Turkey is taking into account in the Eastern Mediterranean are not only between Eurasia and the Atlantic: it is important to take note of the fracturing within the Atlantic camp itself.

Trump vs Biden:The globalists are no longer the only force in the United States. Trump has risen to power as a representative of those who argue that the United States should focus on its internal problems. Although he has not fully implemented his policies while he is in power, he has heavily disrupted the American plan for a world hegemony. The US was wavering between these two programs just ahead of its elections.

The US vs Europe: Europe is now rising as an independent pole from the US, and is shifting away from Washington’s direction. In fact, the establishment of a European Army that is separate from NATO is on the agenda. Europe also favors a multipolar world in the face of the American globalization.

Trump vs Macron: separate from the US-Europe contradiction, Macron represents the globalist in Europe and Trump represents an anti-globalization within the United States. Tensions between Macron and Trump can sometimes escalate to the extreme strains of relations between the two countries.

Macron’s ambitions vs the capabilities of France: Macron is looking to take advantage of Trump’s policy of a domestic turn while not succeeding entirely, and filling the vacuum the United States created. However, there is a serious gap between France’s ambitions and its actual capabilities.

France vs Germany: Compared to France’s aggressive stance in the Eastern Mediterranean, Germany has played more of a mediator role. It will be wise to not hold guard against Europe as a single front, but to make good use of the axial difference between France and Germany.

Italy vs EU: There have been some serious reactions to the EU in Italy, especially during the pandemic. Italy is also pursuing a completely different policy, particularly in regard to Libya. In addition to the moves threatening to disrupt the EastMed project being made by Italy, Rome is also participating in China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, despite heavy opposition from the US.

France/Germany vs populist movements: Recently, populist movements in France and Germany have seen a revival. The Yellow Vests in particular seem to spell trouble for Macron.

As is clearly seen here, the Western camp is not united in heart either. In fact, total fragmentation is the issue. It should also be noted that the Eastern Mediterranean issue is impossible to be resolved within NATO framework. First of all, NATO itself does not have a neutral position on the issue. The alliance’s major powers have taken a completely anti-Turkish position when it comes to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Was Mustapha Kemal Pasha pro-Russian?

The key to success for Turkey is to take advantage of the contradictions within the Atlantic front, and to counter the incoming threats with the Eurasian powers.

This is very similar to the situation during the Turkish War of Independence. The contradictions between the Allied powers were also taken advantage of at the time. The signing of the Treaty of Ankara with France has played a very significant role in achieving the victory.

But most importantly, an alliance was formed between Turkey and Soviet Russia. Fortunately, Mustafa Kemal Pasha did not take the accusations against him of his being a “Bolshevik”, or “Pro-Russian”, too seriously. He also knew very well that the real opponent was the British imperialism, not Greece itself. He did not accept the ludicrous ideas of agreeing with Britain in order to defeat the Greeks. This was exactly why he was able to obtain Victory on August 30, and why he became “Atatürk”.

Today, the formula that will prevent or win a potential war remains the same: keeping the internal front intact, reconciling with the alliances outside with the greatest potential and taking the advantage of contradictions on the opposing front. Only when these conditions are met will a fair and an equal agreement with the United States and Israel be possible.

Note: Two months ago, I wrote an article about the conflicts that surround the Karabakh conflict in the South Caucasus. (See Mehmet Perincek, Azerbaijan-Armenia border clashes and the Karabakh problem ) These ideas and facts remain valid in present circumstances.

We can also make a small edition in the context of relations with Russia: Azerbaijan’s military successes have also started the process of overthrowing Pashinyan. Aliyev will not only be a hero in his own country and Turkey, but also in Russia, if things proceed as planned.

Mehmet Perinçek
Historian and political scientist (Turkey)

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