Turkey is becoming increasingly isolated in its region as its sour relations with countries like Egypt and Israel are causing new alliances to emerge in the eastern Mediterranean against Turkey as well as escalating tension around ethnically divided Cyprus.
Turkish Naval Forces Commander Adm. Bülent Bostanoğlu warned last week that rules of engagement will be applied if Turkey comes across any threat from foreign warships in the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey recently sent a seismic research vessel, the Barbaros, to the region, an act that Greek Cyprus considers a violation of Greek Cyprus's territorial waters.
In early October the Greek Cypriot government suspended talks on reunifying the ethnically divided island between Turkish Cypriots in the north and Greek Cypriots in the south in response to Turkish plans to search for oil and gas in waters where the Cypriot government has already licensed companies to drill to search for oil and gas.
The US considers the natural resources around Cyprus a good opportunity to bring security and stability to the eastern Mediterranean, which is why US officials played an important role in the resumption of talks earlier this year in February between Turkish and Greek Cypriots on the island.
Recent developments have proven that new alliances are emerging and that natural resources in the area may not provide an incentive to maintain peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi hosted a meeting in Cairo that included the leader of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Saturday and announced a new regional energy cooperation deal between Egypt, Greece and Greek Cyprus.
The meeting in Cairo between Anastasiades, el-Sisi and Samaras demonstrated deepening ties among the three states, which challenge Turkey's efforts to chart gas deposits in areas of the east Mediterranean that are claimed by Cyprus.
The emerging alliance fits Egypt's interests well. Its relations with Turkey quickly soured last year after el-Sisi toppled President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement supported by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Turkey.
A source close to diplomatic circles in Turkey told Sunday's Zaman that the nature of the alliance that was formed in Cairo over the weekend between Egypt, Greece and Greek Cyprus is clearly not well intentioned and that it is an alliance against Turkey.
Greek Cyprus claims that Turkey has been conducting exploration activities in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the eastern Mediterranean, as part of a growing row over hydrocarbon reserves off the island. Turkey, which does not recognize the Greek Cypriot administration, says the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) is also entitled to the island's energy riches and promises to defend the KKTC's rights.
In an interview with the weekly Greek Cypriot edition of Kathimerini, United Nations Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said Greek Cyprus has sovereignty rights for specific economic activities within its EEZ; however, anyone, including warships, can enter the EEZ.
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Adana deputy and retired diplomat Faruk Loğoğlu has said that Turkey needs to maintain an equal distance to and contact with all the opposing groups in certain countries and keep channels of communication open to them.
In an opinion piece he wrote for Today's Zaman, Loğoğlu pointed out that Turkey needs to rebuild its relations with the countries of the region, with priority given to Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Libya.
“The cooperation of Turkey, Egypt and Iran as the leading powers in the Middle East would be a major strategic asset, bringing huge benefits, while bad relations among them would mean continuing bad news for the region,” Loğoğlu stressed.
Loğoğlu suggested that Turkey should send ambassadors to Cairo and Damascus, as part of maintaining an equal distance to the opposing groups in these countries and keeping communication channels open. He also suggested the restoration of Turkey's political and diplomatic relations with Israel. “That is the only way Turkey can put itself back in the equation of the Middle East peace process and regain its lost influence in the Arab world and in Western circles.” Loğoğlu explained.
“Ankara does not recognize any country named Cyprus (Greek Cyprus), its animosity toward Israel is endless. The word ‘Egypt' alone is enough to make the ruling party mad, while 15 years of supposedly thawing relations with Greece appear to have made no real concrete gains,” said political scientist Cengiz Aktar on Thursday in his column for Today's Zaman.