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Turkey flexes its muscles.

History and geography play an unassailable role at the heart of macro-politics. As traditional rules and disciplines fail that role becomes more overt. Currently most of the unwritten rules of European politics are being challenged internally (Brexit, Regionalism, polarisation and extremism) inflamed by the region’s steady economic decline and by US indifference. Climate change, mass migrations, the continuing meddling of Russia and the build up of Islamic fundamentalism will do little to help the situation. Europe our largest trading partner and most significant international ally is in jeopardy.

So it is that developments in Turkey matter. Turkey is the hinge state between North Africa, Russia and Eastern Europe. And History and Geography are vital to the story.

Only yesterday the great city of Istanbul lay at the heart of the Ottoman Empire dominating the mediterranean. Today that history underpins the rich rallying rhetoric for the dictatorial and Islamic rule of President Erdogan and threatens to destabilise the region still further.

Erdogan’s gameplan is to reconcile any threat from Russia, to eradicate fringe challenges within his country, and to capture key resources especially oil.

Expect to see three dangerous developments in the next 12 months:

  1. Resisting mass migratrions. Climate change, economic and social dereliction together with population growth means steadily larger migrations north from Africa into the belly of Europe. Turkey is determined it will not be the sink hole for immigrants.
  2. Growing Turkey’s influence. Having played Russia and the US against each other to growing effect, Erdogan is now courted by both. Expect Turkey to revert to its historic leadership tole in the already desperate politics of North East Africa, South and Eastern Europe. Remember not so long ago Turkey directly influenced the Balkans, Greece, Syria and Iraq.
  3. Ensuring Oil supplies. Greece and Southern Cyprus have found oil in the Aegean Sea – again part of the Turkish historic memory. Turkey desperately needs its own supply and last Friday unilaterally agreed with Libya to redraw the ownership of international waters cutting across the already agreed Greek zones.Turkey’s Mediterranean strategy 2019 overtly echoes the nation’s past glories. Erdogan call it “The Blue Homeland” . 

Expect outrage and growing tensions, appeals to NATO and the EU and expect a continuing push by Erdogan and Putin as they test the widening cracks in the western alliance.

Have a good day, James