Turkey’s Navy: Searching for an Edge in the Mediterranean

Ankara’s aspirations go far beyond its capabilities.

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It seems that in every corner of the Middle East, Turkey has inserted itself in one way or another. In northern Iraq and Syria, it’s trying to establish buffer zones to prevent insurgents from penetrating its border. In the Caucasus, it’s trying to protect vital energy supply chains and counter Russian influence. In Somalia and Qatar, it operates shared bases and provides military training programs to maintain a foothold in the Horn of Africa and in the Gulf. And in the Black Sea, where it recently discovered significant natural gas reserves, it will be increasingly assertive to protect its access resources. Yet for Turkey, the most vital theater is the Eastern Mediterranean. It has become the focus of Turkish energy interests, mercantile opportunities and an emerging, forward-leaning defense posture that not only protects existing Turkish interests but expands them. Turkey’s corresponding naval buildup is ambitious. It has invested significant political capital in establishing a greater Mediterranean foothold – using drilling operations off the coasts of Cyprus and Greek islets, intrusion in conflicts like Libya’s civil war, and gunboat diplomacy against regional rivals to “reclaim” its maritime dominance. Still, Turkey’s immediate focus is closer to home: deterring conventional threats along its […]

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Caroline D. Rose
Caroline Rose has a Masters of Science (MSc) in the History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Just before joining GPF she served as a Research Associate for LSE’s International Drug Policy Unit (IDPU), where she researched the nexus between illicit economies and armed insurgencies. She earned her undergraduate degree from American University's School of International Service and has worked previously at both Brookings Institute and the Atlantic Council. Her studies and projects at these institutions covered a range of topics, from Russian and Chinese cyber warfare, evolving American interest within a changing international order, and grand security strategies against state-led revisionism in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. Throughout she's written for a diverse array of publications including Limes in Italy.