x

You’ve reached your limit of free articles for this month.
Get unlimited access to The National Herald,
starting as low as $7.99/month for digital subscription & $5.99/month for a delivery by mail subscription

Guest Viewpoints

Tensions Will Be at Peak in Mediterranean As Turkish Elections Approach

October 17, 2022

Rising tensions in the Mediterranean have stoked fears of a renewed conflict between Greece and Turkey that hasn’t been seen since 1974.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has renewed ultra-nationalistic rhetoric of Turkish expansion, and this has been accompanied by Turkish military operations against Kurdish paramilitaries, the Syrian army, opposition factions in Libya, and militarily support of Azerbaijan against Armenia.

Now emboldened by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has propped up Turkish soft power, Erdogan looks to continue provocations. Heightened militaristic rhetoric has become a focal point of Erdogan’s campaign to mask failed domestic policies at home.

The Mediterranean has always been of interest to Turkey, despite UNCLOS recognizing Greece’s EEZ. Though conflicts have emerged over Cyprus and a near war over Imia, Erdogan’s AKP party have heightened tensions using the guise of “defense of Turkey” while simultaneously preaching renewed territorial expansion.

Tensions have steadily risen after the failed 2016 coup in Turkey against Erdogan’s ruling party. A few days later, the Turkish President called it a “gift from God” as Erdogan was given new powers by the National Assembly. This would include mass arrests and detentions of numerous political rivals, journalists, Turkish human rights activists, and Kurdish MPs.

Erdogan would then continue with anti-Western rhetoric, talking about conspiracies that the United States. and Greece were orchestrating to sow chaos in his country. A once secular Turkey has now grown increasingly Islamist under Erdogan with little freedom of speech and rights. Despite the provocative rhetoric, the EU continues to placate Ankara, even with the border violations reported by Athens that include illegal offshore drilling and thousands of flight interceptions.

On May 18th, both Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership, which became another opportunity for Erdogan, who used the weapons embargo both nations held against him as an excuse to temporarily use his veto power to threaten their membership. Only the end of the embargo, extradition of Kurdish activists, and intelligence sharing will satisfy the autocrat. The veto in NATO effectively has made Erdogan one of the world’s most dangerous leaders, as he holds the fate of the most powerful military alliance in his vote.

With his mediation during the Russo-Ukrainian War, Turkish soft power has been on full display. propping Turkey up to the forefront of major powers – but his domestic policies tell of a different story.

Women’s rights under the AKP have been abhorrent, with numerous instances of killings of women and domestic abuse. The economy has an inflation rate of 83% thanks to failed economic policies. Likewise, the violent government repressions have hurt Erdogan’s image at home and abroad. Ahval News reported in August that despite Erdogan’s populism, he still lacks the majority needed to be re-elected. Along with domestic pressure, Erdogan has also been in a geopolitical quagmire with America, as Turkish-U.S. relations have soured due to Ankara’s geopolitical gambles.

The United States recently lifted the weapons embargo on Cyprus for one full year, as Nicosia has met the requirements of U.S law. Turkey predictably condemned this and their foreign minister stated they will continue to militarily bolster the 46,000 illegal Turkish troops already in Cyprus. It should be noted that relations were already tense on Cyprus before the embargo’s lifting as Ersin Tatar the Turkish Cypriot ‘president’ has discussed a potential annexation by Erdogan and has acted as an extension of the AKP.

On September 14, the Middle East Eye reported that 64% of respondents in Turkey do not see Greece as an existential threat, with election fever having caused the current standoff. As diplomatic relations have reached new lows, a potential war would set the stage for Erdogan to invoke emergency powers to delay elections indefinitely.

Further east, Ilham Aliyev, the President and autocrat of Azerbaijan, has used his natural resources to placate the EU on his aggression in the region through alternative gas options in the wake of the Russian Invasion. The President of the EU Commission has stated that Azerbaijan was a “reliable partner” even when they continue encroaching on Armenia proper, which is sovereign under international law and not disputed like Karabakh.

Aliyev will look to continue to entice the EU and that helps keep Erdogan in power as recent Azerbaijani victories could not have come without Turkish military aid. Likewise, the pipeline from Azerbaijan passing through Turkey and connecting to Greece and Bulgaria will be used as leverage by Erdogan and Aliyev in future geopolitical disputes.

The upcoming 2023 Turkish elections will be monitored with great geopolitical concerns and the Hellenic Military and Cypriot National Guard will have to be on its highest alert and readiness for any provocations. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that the moderate Kemalists faction, the alternative to Erdogan, have the same aggressive policies in regards to the Mediterranean and have had various conflicts with Athens and Nicosia in the past.

RELATED

November’s midterm elections produced manifold results, with Republicans (barely) taking the House and Democrats retaining control of the Senate.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

FALMOUTH, MA – The police in Falmouth have identified the victim in an accident involving a car plunging into the ocean on February 20, NBC10 Boston reported.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Starts to Erupt, Sending Ash Nearby (Video)

HONOLULU — Hawaii's Mauna Loa, the world's largest active volcano, has started to erupt for the first time in nearly four decades, prompting volcanic ash and debris to fall nearby, authorities said Monday.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Five Connecticut police officers were charged Monday with cruelly neglecting a Black man after he was partially paralyzed in the back of a police van, despite his repeated and desperate pleas for help.

JACKSON, Miss. — Retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre is asking to be removed from a lawsuit by the state of Mississippi that seeks to recover millions of dollars in misspent welfare money that was intended to help some of the poorest people in the U.

OMAHA, Neb. — President Joe Biden on Monday asked Congress to intervene and block a railroad strike before next month's deadline in the stalled contract talks, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said lawmakers would take up legislation this week to impose the deal that unions agreed to in September.

WASHINGTON — French President Emmanuel Macron is headed to Washington for the first state visit of Joe Biden's presidency — a revival of diplomatic pageantry that had been put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.