MESOP TODAYS Arguments & Analysis “How the Kurds Drove Turkey Back to Israel (and Two Other Reasons for the Deal)” (Steven A. Cook, Defense One)

28 June 2016 – “There are three reasons why the Turks wanted the deal now more than ever. First, the Israelis have a lot of natural gas and Cyprus has a lot of natural gas. There have been signals all year that negotiations to find a solution to the Cyprus problem and reunify the island are promising. It seems that the deal with Israel is connected to the coming gas bonanza in the Eastern Mediterranean. Second, Ankara’s approach to the Middle East has been an utter failure. Its bid to lead the Middle East after the Arab uprisings was based more on the self-reinforcing myths that AKP elites told themselves than their actual ability to drive events in the region. There was also little chance that Saudis, Egyptians, and Emiratis were going to allow the Turks to play the role they sought.

Between the summer of 2013 and rather recently, Ankara had bad relations with Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Baghdad — in other words, all the major capitals in the region. When Erdogan forced Davutoglu from the prime ministry on May 5, Davutoglu could be made the fall guy for Turkey’s regional isolation with few, if any, political consequences for the president. This is not entirely a stretch; Davutoglu was the architect of Turkey’s grandiose ambitions in the Middle East as an advisor and then foreign minister during the last five years of Erdogan’s tenure as prime minister. Then again, it is not like Erdogan did not embrace the idea of Turkey’s (and thus his own) leadership of the Middle East. The third reason is Syria. This is the failure within the failure of Ankara’s entire bid for leadership in the region.”