Turkey, Russia key players in Middle East - Newsweek

U.S. President Donald Trump has demanded more international countries take an active role in the Middle East during a period of conflicts around the region, and Turkey is already heeding the call along with Russia, Newsweek said on Wednesday.

Fears of a regional war rose to a peak after a U.S. strike in Baghdad killed Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian special forces general who led his country’s military operations around the Middle East.

Iran retaliated by launching rocket attacks on bases in Iraq where U.S. forces were stationed, but Trump warned that he would launch further strikes if Iran escalated and called on NATO countries to take a more active role in the Middle East.

Turkey is already ahead of the game in that respect, having become a key actor in Syria, where it has launched three military operations over the last four years of the conflict, and in Libya, where it is backing the U.N.-recognised government in Tripoli against rivals from the east.

The agreement signed in November that will see Turkish troops deployed to Libya is part of a wider struggle over maritime jurisdictions in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey is vying with other regional countries for potentially vast hydrocarbon resources.

Washington has expressed concerns about Turkey’s moves in Libya, as well as the involvement of Russian mercenaries reported to have deployed on the opposing side of the conflict.

But Russia and Turkey have already reached an agreement on the issue, and the countries’ leaders called for a ceasefire after meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday.

And this is just the latest collaboration between the two countries, which have also worked closely in Syria despite supporting opposing sides of the conflict.