BERIL – Normalization in the eastern Mediterranean

Normalization in the eastern MediterraneanAccording to press reports, Turkey is now the only country in the region that is on bad terms with Egypt, as Qatar recently decided to change its policy toward President Abdel Fattah el-Sisiand#39s Egypt, and launched a reconciliation process.As you may remember, before the Sisi coup, Turkey and Qatar were among the most determined supporters of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsiand#39s Muslim Brothers regime.

Thatand#39s why these two countries strongly condemned the coup that overthrew Morsi and decided not to accept Sisiand#39s legitimacy. However, almost the entire world has done exactly the opposite.

Since then, Turkey has been criticizing its allies because of the double standards they have about democracy and coups.Now it appears that Qatar accepted Saudi Arabiaand#39s mediation in order to heal relations with Cairo and recognize the Sisi regime.

Thus, Turkey is now alone in still not recognizing the legitimacy of Egyptand#39s rulers. What is odd in this story is that the emir of Qatar paid an official visit to Turkey just a week ago.

During his visit, officials of both countries confirmed that Turkey and Qatar have excellent relations and that they even intend to deepen their cooperation.Right after his Ankara visit, the emir traveled to Cairo.

Even though it has not been mentioned officially, one can easily guess that Turkeyand#39s position vis-andagrave-vis Egypt was one of the main topics discussed during his meetings with General Sisi. Qatar will now probably try to find a way to promote reconciliation between Cairo and Ankara The problem is that Ankara adopted such an intransigent position, it will be very hard to overturn it.

Besides, the general election is approaching, so perhaps it is not the best moment for making such important foreign policy decisions. Moreover, Turkey will wait for Egypt to eventually make the first move, but it is difficult for Egyptand#39s rulers to do so, as they may find it burdensome to explain to their public why reconciliation with Turkey is important.

Negotiations are going on right now between Egypt, Israel, Cyprus and Greece on the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the eastern Mediterranean, which is of crucial importance for the exploitation of offshore oil and gas resources. Turkey is not at the negotiating table, even if it should have a say in this critical matter It seems that the negotiating parties are trying to keep Turkey away from these talks, so Turkey intends to prove somehow that it has the power to sabotage any agreement that doesnand#39t take Turkeyand#39s interests into account.

A number of third parties, such as the United States, would in fact prefer Turkey to be at the table because they definitely donand#39t want Russia to become the invisible player in this particular energy game, thanks to Moscowand#39s special relations with Greece and Cyprus.Turkeyand#39s participation in these negotiations may offer a good platform for reducing the tension between Turkey and Greece, and between Turkey and Israel.

It is obvious that the United States is supporting the diplomatic initiatives of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States on regional issues, so it is only normal for Washington to push Turkey to make peace with Israel and Egypt, all of these countries being US allies. The problem is that nobody knows how Turkey will launch a rapprochement with Egypt.

Besides, there are many problems that need to be addressed between Turkey and Israel, Greece and Cyprus.The best scenario is to make the regionand#39s countries to accept their second best choices, such as Turkey and Russia did when they accepted the Montreux Convention on the Turkish Straits in 1936.

The worst scenario would be to have Turkey act in order to prevent the regionand#39s countries from reaching or implementing any agreement, sabotaging every diplomatic initiative of the Syrian regime, or of the Egyptian or Cypriot governments. Turkey could use various tools at its disposal to achieve that.

If Turkey decides to act this way, the happiest country around will probably be Russia.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman