Despite the apparent rapprochement in Russia–Turkey relations, a number of contentious issues between the two States have recently come to the surface. Moscow’s relations with Ankara seem to have lost the relative warmth of the last few years, becoming dominated instead by coldness and mutual suspicion, if not even polarization and confrontation.
In the wake of the declaration of the agreement that establishes diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Aug. 13, 2020, Turkish Foreign Ministry expressed its negative attitude to it and issued a statement saying: “The conscience of the regional countries will never forgive this hypocritical behaviour of the UAE.” Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan went one step further and said that Turkey might suspend its relations with the UAE, which Ankara has not done so far.
Tensions in the eastern Mediterranean are at their highest in decades following Turkey’s decision to send a research vessel, the Oruç Reis, to prospect for gas and oil in maritime areas which Turkey believes fall within its exclusive economic zone, a claim disputed by both Greece and Cyprus.
The roots of the crisis stretch back several years to when commercial quantities of oil and gas were first discovered in the marine areas off the coast of the two countries. Given the geographic overlap between the two, both Athens and Ankara claimed rights to those resources, which has greatly complicated the issues of sovereignty and economic rights in the exclusive economic zones claimed by both sides.
Before delving into the causes of the dispute — in which Greece and Cyprus together are facing off against Turkey — and the possible outcomes, it will be useful to take a quick look at the history of relations between the three countries, which have so often been characterized by the threat of escalation and a growing sense of hostility.
The potential role Turkey could play in Africa -- mainly in the context of countering Chinese economic influence -- emerged as a question in a webinar organized by the Turkish-American Business Council (TAIK). TAIK is led by Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, a Turkish industrialist with strong connections and a business partnership with the Trump family, particularly with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, through his ownership of Trump Towers in Turkey.
Under such circumstance one has to ask pertinent questions: Is a strategy of Turkish-American cooperation to counter Chinese influence in Africa based on sound assumptions? Does Turkey have major influence in Africa? Is there strategic convergence between Turkish-American interests? As we will see the premise underpinning the feasibility of Turkish-American cooperation in Africa remains uncertain and speculative.
Turkey is today undergoing significant political turbulence. President Erdogan’s popularity is in decline and the incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP) appears increasingly vulnerable to
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