Region

Turkey and the Levant

Stories under this heading cover Turkey as well as the Levant – a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia, consisting of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine.

Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Israel and Lebanon move towards resolving a long standing dispute on their maritime border

Opinion: Israel and Lebanon move towards resolving a long standing dispute on their maritime border

There are reports that the US may be about to broker a deal between Israel and Lebanon, resolving a long-standing dispute about their maritime border and the exploitation of two large oil and gas fields in the Levantine Basin. Amos Hochstein, the US Senior Advisor for Energy Security, this month mediated indirect talks between the two countries, who technically are still at war with each other, and have no formal diplomatic relations in an attempt to resolve the issue. After his meetings in Lebanon last week, it seemed that a breakthrough had finally been reached, when the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, reportedly presented a unified position on behalf of the government, which offered the prospect for a compromise This new proposal would create an S shaped maritime border, granting Lebanon access to the whole of the Qana field, while leaving Israel the entirety of Karish. In the past, the lack of agreement within the Lebanese government, and its unwillingness to compromise had been the key factors holding back negotiations, and this new approach led Hochstein to strike an optimistic note, saying that Lebanon had taken “a very strong step forward”. The US Energy advisor will now relay the offer to Israel and await a response. Both countries stand to gain from a swift and peaceful resolution to this decade long problem which has prevented them from extracting any value out of the fields. 
Editor's choice
News
The great Saudi-Turkish restart

The great Saudi-Turkish restart

After years of dispute during which relations fell to a historical low, Turkey and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday sealed a restart in their relations during a state visit to Turkey by the Kingdom's Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Salman. The turquoise carpet was laid out at the presidential palace in Ankara as the Crown prince arrived to be greeted by Turkey's president, Recip Tayip Erdogan. The two men held discussions on bilateral relations and regional and international issues. But this visit was mainly about symbolism. The substance had already been sorted over weeks and months of discussions involving senior officials from the two countries. President Erdogan was himself in Saudi Arabia only a month ago. But the visit of Mohammad bin Salman to Ankara had huge symbolic significance and it marked the final act in a process that saw the two countries draw back from years of animosity, rooted mainly in different perspectives on the future of the Middle East and the broader Islamic world. Both countries see themselves as leaders in the region, as well as a beacon for Muslims worldwide. Prior to visiting Turkey, the Saudi Crown Prince also visited Egypt and Jordan. In a few weeks time he will welcome in Riyadh US President Joe Biden, in a final act that will see the complete rehabilitation of the heir to the Saudi throne who had been caught in international controversy.

Filter archive

Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Israel and Lebanon move towards resolving a long standing dispute on their maritime border

Opinion: Israel and Lebanon move towards resolving a long standing dispute on their maritime border

There are reports that the US may be about to broker a deal between Israel and Lebanon, resolving a long-standing dispute about their maritime border and the exploitation of two large oil and gas fields in the Levantine Basin. Amos Hochstein, the US Senior Advisor for Energy Security, this month mediated indirect talks between the two countries, who technically are still at war with each other, and have no formal diplomatic relations in an attempt to resolve the issue. After his meetings in Lebanon last week, it seemed that a breakthrough had finally been reached, when the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, reportedly presented a unified position on behalf of the government, which offered the prospect for a compromise This new proposal would create an S shaped maritime border, granting Lebanon access to the whole of the Qana field, while leaving Israel the entirety of Karish. In the past, the lack of agreement within the Lebanese government, and its unwillingness to compromise had been the key factors holding back negotiations, and this new approach led Hochstein to strike an optimistic note, saying that Lebanon had taken “a very strong step forward”. The US Energy advisor will now relay the offer to Israel and await a response. Both countries stand to gain from a swift and peaceful resolution to this decade long problem which has prevented them from extracting any value out of the fields. 
Editor's choice
News
The great Saudi-Turkish restart

The great Saudi-Turkish restart

After years of dispute during which relations fell to a historical low, Turkey and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday sealed a restart in their relations during a state visit to Turkey by the Kingdom's Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Salman. The turquoise carpet was laid out at the presidential palace in Ankara as the Crown prince arrived to be greeted by Turkey's president, Recip Tayip Erdogan. The two men held discussions on bilateral relations and regional and international issues. But this visit was mainly about symbolism. The substance had already been sorted over weeks and months of discussions involving senior officials from the two countries. President Erdogan was himself in Saudi Arabia only a month ago. But the visit of Mohammad bin Salman to Ankara had huge symbolic significance and it marked the final act in a process that saw the two countries draw back from years of animosity, rooted mainly in different perspectives on the future of the Middle East and the broader Islamic world. Both countries see themselves as leaders in the region, as well as a beacon for Muslims worldwide. Prior to visiting Turkey, the Saudi Crown Prince also visited Egypt and Jordan. In a few weeks time he will welcome in Riyadh US President Joe Biden, in a final act that will see the complete rehabilitation of the heir to the Saudi throne who had been caught in international controversy.
Editor's choice
News
Turkey holds delicate talks with Sweden and Finland ahead of a decision on their NATO membership application

Turkey holds delicate talks with Sweden and Finland ahead of a decision on their NATO membership application

Senior Turkish officials have met with government delegations from Sweden and Finland as discussions continue following Ankara's threat to veto the NATO membership application of the two Nordic countries. Most NATO countries have warmly welcomed the decision of Sweden and Finland since their membership in NATO will considerably strengthen the northern flank of the alliance, but Turkey accuses both countries of having an ambivalent position on Turkey's struggle with militant Kurdish groups. On Wednesday, Swedish and Finnish government delegations travelled to Ankara to meet with Turkish representatives in an effort to resolve the country’s doubts regarding their accession to NATO. In their first face-to-face meeting since the two Nordic countries applied for membership, Turkish representatives stressed their security concerns, and conditions regarding Sweden’s “cooperation” with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement late on Wednesday that positive steps towards the lifting of an arms embargo from Finland and Sweden had been taken. In October of 2019, Sweden and Finland were among some  European states that imposed an arms embargo on Turkey following a military incursion into Syria.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: There is still a chance Russia will be a spoiler in the Armenia-Turkey normalisation process

Opinion: There is still a chance Russia will be a spoiler in the Armenia-Turkey normalisation process

As long as Turkey maintains a fairly neutral stance on the Ukraine issue, Russia will not interfere in the current efforts to normalise Armenian-Turkish relations, says Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed. "However, if Turkey changes its policy towards Russia, and joins the anti-Russian sanctions the situation may change. In such case, this may break the Russian – Turkish understanding for the post-2020 South Caucasus. Russia may assume the role of spoiler in the Armenia – Turkey normalization process, significantly slowing down the movement towards establishing diplomatic relations and opening up borders." 
Editor's choice
News
Erdogan in Ukraine hopeful of a peaceful exit from the current impasse with Russia

Erdogan in Ukraine hopeful of a peaceful exit from the current impasse with Russia

Turkish president, Recip Tayip Erdogan, arrived in Kyiv on Thursday (3 February) with a message of support and solidarity for Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity, but also urging all sides in the current stand-off with Russia to exercise restraint. "As a country in the Black Sea vicinity, Turkey invites all parties to exercise restraint and use dialogue to bring peace to the region", Erdogan said at the start of the visit.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Elections in Turkey next year may bring the Erdogan era to an end

Opinion: Elections in Turkey next year may bring the Erdogan era to an end

2023 will be a crucial elections year in Turkey, and their is no certainty that president Erdogan and his AK Party can maintain there hold on power, argues Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed. The stakes are high and political turmoil will have implications way beyond Turkey itself.
Editor's choice
News
Turkish exports leap to unprecedented heights despite other economic woes

Turkish exports leap to unprecedented heights despite other economic woes

Exports to the European Union, were almost half of Turkey's exports, and surged 33% year-over-year to $93.1 billion, enabling Turkey to post a surplus of around $7.7 billion in trade with the bloc. Germany remained the top market, having received $19.3 billion worth of Turkish products throughout the year, followed by the United States with $14.7 billion and the United Kingdom with $13.7 billion. Sales to all the three markets marked the highest annual figures ever.