SETA Security Radar | Turkey’s Security Landscape in 2021

Strategic Flexibility under Geopolitical Anxiety

SETA Security Radar Turkey s Security Landscape in 2021
Arab Spring A flashback to past 10 years

Arab Spring: A flashback to past 10 years

The wave of democratization, which began with the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, took down the authoritarian leaders of Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Whereas the uprising in Bahrain was crushed thanks to Saudi Arabia’s military intervention, Iran and Russia ensured the survival of Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.


This issue of Insight Turkey focuses on underscoring both promises of internal reconstruction and challenges fueled by different external actors intervening in the Libyan crisis.

Crisis at critical turning point, says head of UN Support Mission in Libya

With Turkey's support, forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) liberated al-Watiya air base from Khalifa Haftar's forces on May 18. The recapture of the air base, a key strategic site in the western part of the country, marked the start of a series of defeats for Haftar forces and their eventual retreat from western Libya.

Turkey and the Government of National Accord (GNA), the only legitimate administration and the main representative of the Libyan people, signed two memoranda of understanding on the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions and security and defense cooperation on Nov. 27, 2019. After the approval of these memoranda, the Turkish Parliament authorized the deployment of Turkish soldiers in Libya on Jan. 2.

The Libyan crisis, quo vadis?

Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean may have de-escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Libyan crisis continues to deepen. ExxonMobil, Total and ENI stopped drilling in blocks 6 and 10 due to dropping oil prices. That decision could contribute to the Turkish solution as Ankara offered to dispatch its navy and three drilling vessels to the Eastern Mediterranean for a fair distribution of local hydrocarbon reserves.

The Libyan crisis quo vadis
Change of balance in Libya

Change of balance in Libya

That mankind will draw lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic is just wishful thinking. The virus outbreak cannot seem to end violence or the struggle for power. The situation in Libya supports this claim.


It is true President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin have had an amenable relationship. Turkey and Russia are also both regional actors that share partnerships on many issues. The recent cooperation between the two countries is not as black and white as foreign affairs and alliances between countries were during the Cold War. To call this period of cooperation a "honeymoon," however, would be incorrect.

Last week an important international meeting was held in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's diplomatic efforts. Turkey, Russia, the UAE and Egypt, as well as representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Congo, Algeria, United Nations and African Union, participated in the Berlin conference.

Turkish efforts to provide constructive solutions to Libya have pushed the international community to add crisis to their agenda

In the summer of 2019, I had an opportunity to visit the western cities of Libya. As a group of researchers, we were trying to understand the dynamics of the complicated civil war in Libya.

SETA Security Radar attempts to anticipate the course of major security issues Turkey faces and how to develop and enhance sound and relevant responses within this increasingly challenging regional security environment.

Turkey took three crucial steps in late 2019 to tilt the balance of power in the Eastern Mediterranean. Those military and diplomatic measures, which the country took in the Mediterranean theater to strengthen its hand at the negotiating table, indicate that the Libya question will fare as prominently in Turkey's agenda as the Syria file.

With the decision to deploy troops, Turkey affirmed its plans to remain active in the region and its determination to stand its ground

Renegade general Khalifa Haftar, who claims to be the commander of a militia called the Libyan National Army (LNA), is attacking the Libyan capital of Tripoli in a renewed attempt to take down the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

Another significant issue that is threatening the entire region is the escalating crisis in Libya.

The fall of Tripoli could undermine European energy security and unleash a new refugee wave on already overwhelmed countries

Libya's civil war has devastated the country for the last five years and is escalating again with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar's recent march to western Libya.