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.

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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. 
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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.

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News
 Erdogan congratulates new Israeli president in first high-level contact between the two countries in years

Erdogan congratulates new Israeli president in first high-level contact between the two countries in years

The Turkish president, Recip Tayip Erdogan, on Monday (July 12)  spoke on the phone with his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog and discussed relations between the two countries as well as regional issues. This was the first high-level contact between Turkey and Israel in years. Relations between the two countries have been strained as a result of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians and Israel's perception of Turkish support for radical Palestinian groups.
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Egypt, Jordan and Iraq hold summit in Baghdad

Egypt, Jordan and Iraq hold summit in Baghdad

The Egypt-Jordan-Iraq summit comes within the framework of the tripartite co-operation mechanism between the three countries, which held its first round in Cairo in March 2019. Whilst not mentioned in official statements, the trilateral relationship established between Egypt, Iraq and Jordan is seen partly as an attempt to neutralise Iran’s influence across the region.
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News
EU leaders look at relations with the countries to the East

EU leaders look at relations with the countries to the East

EU leaders on Thursday (24 June) EU's relations with Russia and Turkey, two important and strategic countries with whom the European Union has a complex relationship. The tone adopted in dealing with the two countries was very different, as is appropriate given that Turkey remains an EU candidate country, whilst Russia is increasingly seen as a disruptive neighbour and rival.
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Lebanon's military chief says army will collapse without urgent aid

Lebanon's military chief says army will collapse without urgent aid

The commander of the Lebanese armed forces, General Joseph Aoun, appealed to the international community on Thursday (17 June) to support the army, warning that its “collapse” will fuel chaos and insecurity. His statement was addressed to representatives of various states at a French-sponsored conference to support the army.