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Turkish military expansionism alerts its rivals in the Middle East

The Turkish army controls portions of northern Iraq and Syria and, in recent months, has established military bases in Qatar, Somalia and Sudan

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Turkish military expansionism alerts its rivals in the Middle East

The Turkish weapons sector has developed enormously in last decade. Its armed forces maintain major operations in Syria and Iraq, while executive has signed agreements to build bases in Somalia, Qatar and Sudan and military cooperation agreements have been established with armies of Pakistan, Ukraine, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Malaysia and Indonesia, among ors.

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The Turkish Parliament has renewed annually since 2007 a permit for army to carry out "cross-border operations" in Iraq. Since March, Turkish army, with support of aerial bombardments, has penetrated Iraqi territory up to 20 kilometers along a corridor that extends more than 50 kilometers east to west, taking control of dozens of settlements previously used by Kurdish armed group PKK — considered a terrorist by Ankara, Brussels and Washington — as a base for operations from which to launch attacks on Turkish soil

From 2015, Syrian territory is also included in that permit. The government justifies it in its right to self-defence and invokes principle of "hot pursuit," as United States did to strike Afghan Taliban escaping Pakistan's territory. Ankara alleges that neir Kurdistan border Guard nor Iraqi army nor Bashar al-Assad regime have capacity to control ir borders.

But Turkish military presence in both countries is far from a temporary one. In Syria, thanks to operation Coat of Euphrates, launched in August 2016, Turkey took under its control more than 2,000 square kilometers of territory in north of province of Aleppo, formerly in hands of Islamic State and Kurdish militias YPG , linked to PKK. In this area between Yarablús and Al Bab, Turkish companies rebuild destroyed towns and have established military bases and Turkish institutions, from direction of religious affairs to The courier company PTT.

In January, Turkish armed forces launched a new offensive: Operation Olive Branch. In collaboration with Free Syrian Army and Islamist factions, y took canton of Afrin, controlled by Kurdish militias, and thus elevated to more than 3,500 square kilometers Syrian territory under dominion of Ankara. Everything indicates that future of Afrin will be similar to that of Yarablús since homes of Kurdish population have begun to be fled to Arab refugees escaped from or areas, like Guta Oriental, more favorable to interests of Ankara. Likewise, Turkish military have established eight military posts in Syrian province of Idlib as part of an agreement with Russia and Iran.

The Turkish weapons sector has developed enormously in last decade and military cooperation agreements have been established with armies of Pakistan, Ukraine, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Malaysia and Indonesia, among ors.

Upward tension in Aegean Sea

M. A. S.-V.

The differences between Greece and Turkey around some Aegean islets — a dispute over that of Imia was about to provoke a war in 1996 — have heightened in recent months, while Ankara claims that Treaty of Lausanne is revoked (1923) , which sets borders between two countries and rights of minorities (for example, Muslim in Greek Thracian, some of whose members have a Turkish passport). The incursion of Turkish fighters into Greek airspace — something ever more frequent — provoked in April a Greek fighter crashing along island of Skyros after repelling an intrusion; The pilot died. In parallel, imprisonment of two Greek soldiers in Turkey, and rejection of Greek justice to grant extradition of 8 Turkish officers who fled after failed coup of 2016, have acrimonioused relationship.

Apart from in Syria and in Iraq, Turkey maintains presence and military bases in those points where it participates in international missions of NATO, UN and OSCE (Kosovo, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Ukraine, Lebanon, Gulf of Aden, Mediterranean), and in countries that are firm Allies such as Azerbaijan and Turkish Republic of Norrn Cyprus (only recognized by Ankara). But, moreover, in recent months, Turkey has signed construction of military bases in Somalia, Qatar, and Sudan. The facilities in Mogadishu, which will house 200 Turkish military personnel to train Somali army, were inaugurated in September. Last year, following blockade enacted by Saudi Arabia and or Gulf states, Ankara emerged in defense of its Qatari ally and began building a base near Doha to which it dispatched a contingent of 300 soldiers who, in future , it could increase to 3,000. And in December Erdogan agreed with Omar El Bashir's regime of assignment of Sudanese island of Noakin, where Turks will rebuild old Ottoman fortress and establish a naval base.

These movements have put axis of Egypt-Saudi Arabia on nerves, which maintains litigation with Sudan and Qatar. "Erdogan aspires to restore Ottoman expansionism. The most dangerous thing is transfer of island of Subakin, located in front of Yeda (Saudi Arabia) and that Erdogan sees as a symbol of Ottoman Empire, because re was lodged his fleet, "denounced Saudi columnist Hamoud Abu Talib. Of course, little does Turkish press to calm mood. In a recent article, newspaper Yeni Safak, very close to Erdogan, proudly announced that "one hundred years later, Turkey returns to regions from which Ottoman Empire was to be removed" by establishing a series of "seatbelts" that pass through Balkans, Horn of Africa and Caucasus: "Thanks to its military deployment in twelve countries, Turkey has begun to become a world-power military force."

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