Turkey is challenging allies and enemies, France24 news said over the weekend in an analysis about Ankara’s current foreign policy. Indeed, Turkey has defied an arms embargo on Libya and pressed ahead by sending Syrian rebel mercenaries there to fight in a civil war.Turkey is also bombing northern Iraq and Turkish-backed extremists continue to kidnap women and ethnically cleanse Kurds in Syria. But Turkey’s standing has increased in the last year as European countries, the US, EU, NATO, Iran and Russia all seek to work more closely with Ankara. The more invasions, the more Ankara is the go-to country for all conflicts in the Middle East. This was accomplished through Ankara’s carefully executed policy of stoking a new crisis each month to get what it wants.
To see how successful Ankara has been consider the following: Its defense minister was in Libya over the weekend and Turkey looks to play an increasing role controlling western Libya and its weak central government. It has pushed back eastern Libya opposition fighters and humiliated an alliance of Egypt, the UAE, France and Russia.At the same time, Turkey got Iran to support its policy on Libya and to help it in northern Iraq in exchange for helping Iran get around US sanctions. Turkey also works with Russia and Iran on Syrian peace processes and buys S-400s as air defense from Russia. Then Turkey turns to the US and says the US should help it defeat Russia in Libya and Syria’s Idlib. It even got US senators to suggest buying Russia’s S-400 system from Turkey.At home, Turkey has imprisoned human rights workers from Amnesty International on “terrorism” charges, but still manages to get UN and NATO support, despite a widening crackdown on all critical media and imprisoning opposition politicians and seeking to curtail social media. Turkey even threatens to force Syrian refugees to go to Europe, while getting the EU to pay for those same refugees in Turkey.And when it comes to France, one of the few European countries who is openly critical of Ankara, Turkey appears to have gotten most of NATO on its side against France. Turkey accomplishes all this by heating up different conflicts each month and then demanding concessions. Last October, it threatened US troops in Syria and ordered US President Donald Trump to leave Syria.The US president agreed, and it turns out that the more Ankara pushed the US, the more Trump took the Turkish president’s calls, becoming the foreign leader who appears to have been put through most to the White House. Trump likes the “art of the deal,” but in this deal, the US got nothing and Ankara got everything.
After Turkey invaded Syria last October and got the US to abandon some of its Kurdish partner forces, Turkey signed a deal with Russia. This is the same Russia that Turkey tells US envoy James Jeffrey that Turkey is against. In November and December 2019, Turkey signed a deal with Libya for energy exploration off the coast, putting Turkey’s claims at odds with Greece.Then in January and February, Turkey heated up conflict in Idlib, fighting the Syrian regime. In March, Turkey sought to end the Idlib crisis, get concessions from Russia and pivot back to Libya. In April and May, Turkey helped turn the Libyan war around and then shifted gear to bombing Kurdish groups in Iraq in June.Crisis-a-month is how Ankara is able to get the US, EU, NATO, Russia and Iran to all value Turkey more than they seem to want to work with other countries in the Middle East. Ankara sells itself as the key to every conflict in the Middle East: by first invading and then claiming it can solve the conflict.Libya is now the jewel in the crown. Turkey will use it to pressure Egypt and Greece for concessions and also to work with Russia. Ankara has also shown that the Arab states, despite their complaints about Turkey’s continued escalation, are largely unable to stop Turkey and will continue to be distracted by the numerous crises that Turkey heats up every month.