Turkey will likely continue to pursue its Blue Homeland doctrine, which lays claim to expansive territorial waters in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea, despite the demotion and resignation of Cihat Yaycı, the doctrine’s chief architect, according to an analyst writing for War on the Rocks.
Yaycı resigned in May after he was removed from the key post of active duty rear admiral and the naval chief of staff by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“So far, nothing seems to suggest that Ankara plans to switch course with respect to Libya or the eastern Mediterranean. Yaycı’s replacement, Adm. Yankı Bağcıoğlu, has received considerable media recognition as the chief orchestrator of the ‘Blue Homeland 2019’ naval exercises,” Ryan Gingeras, associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School and an expert on Turkish and the Middle East history, said on Tuesday.
In the light of assertive policies championed by Yaycı, Turkey has sent drillships off the divided island of Cyprus for gas exploration, and signed a maritime deal with the Libyan government that ignores territorial waters around Cyprus and number of Greek islands.
The Turkish navy conducted large-scale military exercises under the Blue Homeland banner in early 2019.
However, Turkey’s aggressive actions have stoked tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, where a number of countries are vying for the rights to hydrocarbon resources, Gingeras said.
“What the ‘Blue Homeland’ turn means for the future of Turkey’s participation in NATO, or Ankara’s relationship with its Western partners, is far from clear. Many signs points to rough waters ahead,” he said.
The United States’ increasingly warm relations with Greece, as well the U.S. Congress’ vote to lift a decades-old arms embargo against Cyprus during the heightened tensions in the eastern Mediterranean cast doubt upon Turkey’s ties with NATO and the United States in particular, according to Gingeras.