Ankara eyeing control of Mediterranean, through Libya - Jerusalem Post

Turkey is looking to gain control the Mediterranean as part of increased pressure on Cyprus and is working with the Tripoli government of Libya as part of this agenda, the Jerusalem Post said in an editorial published on Monday.

The deal between Ankara and the Tripoli government has larger ramifications for Egypt, Cyprus and Israel as Turkey seeks a vast swath of sea to control as an economic zone, it said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the head of Libya’s National Accord (GNA) government Fayez al-Sarraj signed on Thursday an agreement on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea, in a move that could complicate Ankara’s disputes over energy exploration in the region with other countries.

Tensions have been soaring between Greece and Turkey because of Turkish drilling off the coast of the divided island of Cyprus, and the European Union has prepared sanctions against Turkey in response.

The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974 into predominantly Greek Cypriot south, whose government is internationally recognised, and the Turkish Cypriot north, whose sovereignty is only recognised by Ankara.

The Turkish government claims the area licensed by Cyprus falls partly within its own continental shelf.

“Ankara is trying to assert itself across the swath of Iraq, Syria and now all the way to Libya, with its eyes set on having power not seen since the Ottoman Empire more than 100 years ago,’’ the Jerusalem post said citing a report by Turkey’s Daily Sabah.

Turkey is revving up its engine for more drilling to follow up on the “Blue Motherland” naval exercises earlier this year and further pushing out its boundaries with future deals in the cards.Ankara’s backing of the Islamist-rooted government in Tripoli has been part of a much larger Turkish goal of economic access and a strategic corridor linking its coastline to Libya, it said.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), backed mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, has accused Turkey of supporting militias, chaos and terrorist groups in Libya and ferrying arms to the war-torn country on planes flying from Turkey.

“Turkey’s model in the Mediterranean is to exploit either weak states like Libya or unrecognized states like Northern Cyprus, to move forward,’’ the Jerusalem Post said.