Foreign Policy Blogs

Turkish Naval Buildup in the Eastern Mediterranean

According to Turkish daily Sabah, Turkey’s new strategic focus is shifting from the Aegean towards East Mediterranean. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had indicated earlier that Turkey would take steps towards ensuring freedom of navigation in Eastern Mediterranean, as a reaction to the Palmer report. In the following days it is expected that the Turkish Navy will start to assert its presence in larger numbers around Cyprus. Accordingly, more frigates, gunboats, submarines, naval helicopters and sentry jets will be allocated to what is called ‘Operation Barbarossa: Aegean Shield’. Additionally, Turkish Navy will now be in constant cruise in the Adriatic, Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.


Turkish Naval Buildup in the Eastern Mediterranean

According to the plan, Turkey will reinforce its earlier 2006 Aegean Shield operations initiated to protect the territorial waters around Ceyhan area, as the port city has become a major natural gas transportation hub. Based on the strategic concerns over the protection of the Ceyhan area and following Israel’s refusal to apologize over the death of 9 Turkish civilians in the Mavi Marmara debacle, Turkey has deployed 2 additional frigates, gunboats and sentry ships each. Also, in addition to Konya 3rd Main Air Force Command, Izmir 2nd Main Air Force command is now designated as the second air cover base responsible from the protection of the area.

Turkish Naval Buildup in the Eastern Mediterranean

Finally, the plan introduces constant cruise duty to the Turkish Naval Mission Group (Frigates Barbaros, Gelibolu, Gemlik and Kudret Gungor – 1st logistical support ship – 3 naval helicopters – underwater assault and defense elite commando units) which had visited Oman, UAE, Pakistan, India, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Jordan port cities in the last 3 months.

Turkish Naval Buildup in the Eastern Mediterranean



Akin Unver

Dr. Ünver is an assistant professor of international relations at Kadir Has University, Istanbul.

Previously he was the Ertegün Lecturer of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies department - the only academic to retain this prestigious fellowship for two consecutive years. He conducted his joint post-doctoral studies at the University of Michigan’s Center for European Studies and the Center for the Middle East and North African Studies, where he authored several articles on Turkish politics, most notable of which is ”Turkey’s deep-state and the Ergenekon conundrum”, published by the Middle East Institute.

Born and raised in Ankara, Turkey, he graduated from T.E.D. Ankara College in 1999 and earned his B.A. in International Relations from Bilkent University (2003) and MSc in European Studies from the Middle East Technical University (2005). He received his PhD from the Department of Government, University of Essex, where his dissertation, ‘A comparative analysis of the discourses on the Kurdish question in the European Parliament, US Congress and Turkish National Assembly‘ has won the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) 2010 Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award in Social Sciences.

Akın also assumed entry-level policy positions at the European Union Secretariat-General, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Eurasian Center for Strategic Studies (ASAM) and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (D.C.), as well as teaching positions at the University of Essex (Theories of International Relations) and Sabancı University (Turkey and the Middle East).

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