With US president-elect Joe Biden preparing to take office this month, geopolitical actors in the Middle East await his stance on the Iran nuclear deal.

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Left to right: Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, Syria’s regime leader Bashar al-Assad, and Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah.

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The year 2020 has finally come to a close. It has been a hot year in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean. Regional tensions have only been overlooked because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. This time last year, the world witnessed a number of events that led many to believe the outbreak of World War III was imminent. The conflicts in Syria and Libya were two wild sparks that threatened to set the world alight. …


As Turkey and the EU bicker over the Eastern Mediterranean, Russia is trapping the region in a triangular web between Azerbaijan, Libya and Sudan.

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Under a draft deal signed in November 2020, the Russian Navy will station up to four warships, including those with nuclear capabilities, and up to 300 service members in Port Sudan. (TASS)

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2020 has been an extraordinary year for many reasons, but in the context of Eastern Mediterranean geopolitics, it has been a year of great battles for power and leverage that has culminated in the emergence of a new regional status quo. We entered the year witnessing unprecedentedly bold and decisive moves by Turkey that exposed a number of underlying fault lines in the European Union, and highlighted the conflicting priorities of NATO and the EU. …


French President Macron’s attempt to rally the EU behind France against Turkey through his turning to European populism puts him at odds with NATO.

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President Macron, flanked by Republican Guards, makes his entrance at the Palace of Versailles to deliver his state-of-the-nation address to MPs and senators (CHARLES PLATIAU/POOL).

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Comments by French President Emmanual Macron early in October triggered a fierce war of words between himself and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that weeks on, still has the two leaders arguing back and forth. Macron claimed that the religion of Islam is in crisis, a remark that offended Muslims around the world, including President Erdogan, who styles himself as a defender of Islamic values and causes, both in Turkey, and in the wider Muslim world. …


President Ersin Tatar may be Turkey’s man in North Cyprus, and that’s exactly why his plan to negotiate a two-state solution is doomed to fail.

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Children play in a park in northern Nicosia along the UN-controlled buffer zone that runs across the island of Cyprus (Photo: Niel Hall).

On October 18th, Turkish Cypriots elected secessionist leader Ersin Tatar as president. Tatar won the run-off ballot with just under 52 percent of the vote, defeating his leftist rival Mustafa Akinci in what was probably the most tense election in the 37-year history of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), a breakaway state recognised only by Turkey. …


The key to winning the Turkish Cypriot presidential election run-off will be to sway the 44% of eligible voters who did not vote in the first round. Korsan Cevdet writes.

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Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersin Tatar is challenging President Mustafa Akinci for the presidency of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

By 19:00 (GMT) on Sunday, 11 October 2020, the first round of Turkish Cyprus’ presidential elections concluded with the expected results. Right-winger Ersin Tatar, of the National Union Party (UBP), was in the pole position with 32.34% of the vote, followed by incumbent leftist Mustafa Akinci (29.80%), and the centre-left Republican Turkish Party’s (CTP) Tufan Erhurman (21.71%). Centre-right People’s Party leader Kudret Ozersay came in fourth with 5.74% of the vote, a significant decline from the 21.25% he garnered in 2015. Erhan Arikli of the far-right Rebirth Party (YDP) received 5.41% of the vote, whereas Serdar Denktas recorded a mere 4.17% …


Radio EastMed’s Editor-in-Chief Ertan Karpazli rounds up all the latest news and developments from the Eastern Mediterranean for the month of September 2020.

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Protest held in support of Armenia in Cyprus (Twitter).

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PODCAST: Regional war brews between Turkey and Russia

While tensions simmer in Syria’s Idlib province, fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh could put Turkey and Russia on a path to war.

PODCAST: Cyprus becomes the black sheep of the EU

Cyprus may have proved its point to the EU by holding sanctions on Belarus hostage, but at the risk of leaving itself isolated within the bloc.

PODCAST: The dawn of a new Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

Young sympathisers of the Muslim Brotherhood seek more practical solutions to everyday problems like unemployment, not more outdated revolutionary rhetoric. …


Cyprus may have proved its point to the EU by holding sanctions on Belarus hostage, but at the risk of leaving itself isolated within the bloc.

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Cyprus’ president Nicos Anastasiades, left, and Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrive for the EU summit in Brussels (AFP).

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The Republic of Cyprus may be tiny in size, but it certainly punches above its weight. The island’s internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot government proved that in September by almost taking the European Union’s foreign policy hostage. The bloc needed all 27 member states to approve economic sanctions on Belarus, but Nicosia refused to give its approval until EU leaders could promise to implement similar sanctions on Turkey if it did not withdraw its seismic vessels from a disputed maritime area claimed by Cyprus.

Nicosia’s stance irked much criticism from its EU partners, a number of whom argued that sanctions on Belarus and Turkey were two separate issues that should be independent of each other. …


While tensions simmer in Syria’s Idlib province, fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh could put Turkey and Russia on a path to war.

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An Armenian soldier fires an artillery piece during fighting with Azerbaijan’s forces in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh (AP).

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Turkey and Russia have had a hot-cold relationship in recent decades, with a long history of war going back to the late 18th century. Destiny has seemingly put the Turkish and Russian civilisations on a collision course, with the Turks and their allies having been the main obstacle standing between the Russians and their 300-year march towards the warm waters of the Mediterranean.

In that time, the Russians have overrun several territories that were once Turkish, or at least once allied to the former Ottoman Empire. Turkish control and influence has been all but wiped out from southern Poland, southern Ukraine and the northern Caucasus. Entire populations have been uprooted, including the Meshketian Turks of Georgia, the Circassians of Sochi, and the Tatars of Crimea, only very few of whom were able to return to their homeland. Be it in the name of Orthodox Christianity, pan-Slavic nationalism, or Marxism-Leninism, the Russians have for hundreds of years successfully built corridors of influence that have cut through Turkish and Muslim territories in their southward advance. …


Young sympathisers of the Muslim Brotherhood seek more practical solutions to everyday problems like unemployment, not more outdated revolutionary rhetoric.

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A protest outside the Egyptian Consulate in Istanbul against the execution of nine suspected Muslim Brotherhood members in March 2019 (AP).

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September has seen the first major anti-government protests to erupt in Egypt since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was elected president in 2014, a year after he led a military coup against his presidential predecessor, the late Mohamed Morsi. Morsi, who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned organisation that originated in Egypt in the 1920s and has since gone global, was ousted by Sisi after just one year in power following mass demonstrations against his rule. …


There may be a possibility of Turkey downgrading its role as a guarantor in Cyprus if Greece can relinquish its maritime drilling rights off Kastellorizo.

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The old Ottoman-era mosque of Kastellorizo, built in 1755, ceased to be used after the island’s native Turkish community migrated to Turkey following its annexation by Greece after World War II.

We are living in times of great tensions between Turkey and Greece over offshore energy exploration rights in the Eastern Mediterranean. Tensions are the highest they’ve been since 1996, when a dispute erupted between Turkey and Greece over the Kardak (Imia) islets in the Aegean. The incidents in the Aegean also happened to take place in the same year Greek Cypriot have-a-go-hero Solomon Solomou was shot dead by Turkish troops for trying to tear down a Turkish flag from a flagpole along the UN-controlled buffer zone that divides Cyprus.

Over the last two decades, the Turkish-Greek dispute over the islets has been de-escalated, although the issue still remains unresolved, just like many disputes that have lingered since the Greco-Turkish war ended in 1922. One such manifestation of these problems occurred in Cyprus in 1974, when a Greek military junta ousted then-Cypriot president Archbishop Makarios with the aim of annexing the island. This prompted a Turkish military operation that saw the island divided into a Turkish Cypriot north and a Greek Cypriot south. Some nine years later, in 1983, this division was cemented when the Turkish Cypriots announced the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) as an independent state. To date, Turkey, which still has its troops stationed in northern Cyprus, remains the only country to have diplomatic ties with the TRNC, while the rest of the international community recognises the Greek Cypriot-led Republic of Cyprus, based in the south, as the island’s sole legitimate authority. …

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Radio EastMed

All the latest news and geopolitical analyses from the Eastern Mediterranean. radioeastmed.com

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