U.S. presidential election to determine outcome of East Med conflict – Turkey expert
The U.S. presidential elections will determine the outcome of the current tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan most likely to receive an effective carte blanche from U.S. President Donald Trump if re-elected, wrote Henri Barkey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
The election of Democratic nominee Joe Biden in United States’ November presidential polls, however, would mean that Ankara receives far less sympathy for its current stance in the region, Barkey wrote on Sept. 9.
Erdoğan’s government is locked in a dispute with Greece and Cyprus over overlapping claims on hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean, with both sides holding conflicting views of how far their continental shelves extend in waters.
France has strongly backed Greece and Cyprus in the growing standoff with Turkey over territorial claims, sending its navy to back Athens. The military build-up in the eastern Mediterranean has sparked fears of conflict.
A Biden administration would be “more willing to use Washington’s considerable influence to minimize, if not resolve, tensions,’’ Barkey wrote, which he maintains are likely to escalate if Turkey remains adamant in pursuing their claims to the riches in the region.
The Turkish president has been constructing a “fervent coalition and public opinion at home that is increasingly buying into his combative rhetoric and claims of inalienable Turkish rights in these waters,’’ the analyst said.
But the fact Greece is backed by international law, in addition to a large coalition of states supporting it, presents a major challenge to Erdoğan, he added.