Dimitris Rapidis

Turkey is a robust country, a pivotal player in the entire region which encompasses the Middle East, the Southeastern Mediterranean basin, and the Balkans. It always had a special role in these three areas due to the long-held historical, political, cultural, and economic ties and relations. Lately, Turkey has achieved to unleash a fundamental geopolitical asset after the rapprochement with Israel. And this new development is of paramount importance.

Israel officially apologized a couple of days ago for the bloody invasion of the Israeli special forces in the Turkish-led flotilla destined to unblock the embargo in Gaza Strip in 2010. These three years the bilateral relations have been stalled, and Israel has meticulously developed a new partnership with Cyrpus with the view of mutually exploiting the natural resources of the sea region that entails Turkey, Cyrpus, Israel. The agreement between Cyprus and Israel was considering from the Turkish side as a direct insult against the very interests of Turkey in the sea, as Ankara claims its definite rights over the exploitation of the area. Now that Cyrpus is a “lost case”, Israel and Turkey have opened a new chapter in their relationship.

The new partnership between Israel and Turkey is something we cannot undermine geopolitically. From the Israeli perspective, Turkey is considered as a great and influential pivotal player in the Middle East, able to exert its leverage to control politically and diplomatically the Muslim world, and especially Iran, that is turned against Israel’s belligerent intentions. Israel has to bid for Turkey’s geopolitical leverage, which is something that has significantly grown during Erdogan’s leadership. Therefore, Israel needs Turkey as an appeasing shield that can smooth down political, dimplomatic, and military tensions in Middle East.

From the Turkish perspective, I firmly reckon that the strategic partnership with Israel is something Turkey was always endeavoring to achieve. The rush for energy capacity is one of the most crucial issues of Turkish foreign policy, as well as one of the major components of Davutoglu’s strategic doctrine. Turkey wants to be a mediator for energy sufficiency and supply in the Mediterranean area and Europe, while establishing a diplomatic precedent with Israel in the view of exploiting the natural resources of the Cyrpus sea. Ankara is planning to develop a new hardline in this issue, aiming at upgrading the international status of the Turkish-Cypriot state (i.e. a non-recognized state internationally and considered as protectorate) through applying a designated sea area that could give Turkey the right to unleash field enquiries over the natural resources. Therefore, the bilateral partnership with Israel can guarantee Turkey that the strategic balance in the area is in favor of Ankara and not of Nicosia.

In addition to that, it goes without saying that the role US plays in the region is inextricably interwoven with the policy line of Ankara. The burden-sharing doctrine of Obama’s Presidency is something Turkey wants to take advantage of and have under its control the strategic policy of NATO in the eastern flank of the Alliance. The partnership with Israel gives Turkey a strategic advantage against the turbulent area of Middle East, let alone the fact that Turkey finds a strong ally in its effort to control Kurdish insurgency.

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