Erdoğan reinventing Turkey as ‘world’s loose cannon’ - The Times

Under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has reinvented itself as the world’s loose cannon, overextending power in the region while increasingly pushing itself into isolation, wrote Roger Boyes, diplomatic editor of London-based Times newspaper, on Tuesday.

Erdoğan may see himself as “the master of unpeace,” as evidenced by his military support for the Libyan government in Tripoli, struggle against Kurds in Syria and Iraq, and deployment of warship-escorted vessel in the Mediterranean, Boyes wrote on Tuesday.

Regional powers and the West are facing off against Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, where a number of countries are vying for the rights to hydrocarbon resources and Turkey has deployed vessels to search for oil and gas in the contested waters off the divided island of Cyprus.

France has reinforced its naval presence in the waters and may use it to support Greek vessels attempting to stop Turkish oil and gas exploration in waters claimed by Athens. Meanwhile, Greece has also signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal with Egypt.

Elsewhere in the region, Turkey maintains a military presence in neighbouring Syria and has launched a new military operation into Iraq in a bid to target Kurdish forces linked to an insurgency on its own soil.

Ankara also provides military support to Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

Erdoğan’s “constant search for enemies and scapegoats exhausts even his supporters, and has left him almost friendless in the region,” Boyes said, pointing to the inability of Turkey’s strongman to “freeze conflicts he cannot win and settle for modest gain,” as Russia has done in Syria.

The head of Israeli intelligence Yossi Cohen when talking to his counterparts in Gulf states last year about Iran as their common enemy, said the real threat was from Turkey, Boyes wrote.

It is Turkey’s “coercive diplomacy, its sloppily calculated risk-taking across the Middle East, posed a different kind of challenge to strategic stability in the eastern Mediterranean,’’ he said.