Dalia Ziada, Executive Director of MEEM Center, gave a statement to Arab News about the future of Turkey's foreign policy in the Middle East after the appointment of the former intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, as the new foreign minister of Turkey, in early June. Below is an excerpt from the article:
Meanwhile, although Turkiye has already started the process of normalizing ties with Syria and the Assad regime through several high-level meetings under Russian mediation, the Turkish military presence in northern Syria is not expected to end soon.
But new moves for facilitating the safe return of Syrian refugees to their homeland might be taken to fulfil the pledges made by Erdogan during his reelection campaign.
The counterterrorism campaigns in northern Iraq and Syria are also set to continue in the light of the composition of the new cabinet.
Dalia Ziada, director of the Cairo-based MEEM Center for Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean Studies, believes that Fidan is the right man for the job at this particular time with Turkiye rising as a key regional player.
“He holds all the important cards and knows by practice the behind-the-scenes issues in Turkiye’s foreign policy,” she told Arab News.
“Fidan enjoys a deep understanding of the situation in the hotspots of the Middle East, ranging from Libya to Sudan and Syria, and he is the only Turkish official to continue to be part of the four-way meetings in Moscow that brought together senior officials from Turkiye, Syria, Russia and Iran in the past few months,” Ziada said.
According to Ziada, tangible progress on Turkiye’s foreign policy in Syria and the mediating role of Turkiye in the Russia-Ukraine conflict can be expected in the short run with Fidan’s active role in the foreign policy apparatus.
As Fidan has been the “behind-the-curtains” architect of the rapprochement in the past two years to fix broken ties with Egypt and Arab Gulf countries, Ziada thinks that his appointment may accelerate the reconciliation process between Turkiye and the North African country.
“This will consequently lead to mitigating the civil conflicts in Libya, facilitating the political solution process, and may eventually bring Libya to elections sooner than we think,” she said.
El-Sisi and Erdogan have agreed on “the immediate start of upgrading diplomatic relations, exchanging ambassadors,” Egypt’s presidency said in a statement last Monday.
Ziada added that Fidan’s background could enhance Turkiye’s relationship with the Arab Gulf countries.
“I won’t be surprised to see Fidan being involved in talks between Arab Gulf countries and Iran in the near future. In reverse, this will be reflected positively on Turkiye by increasing Gulf countries’ investments and thus enhancing the struggling Turkish economy,” she said.
“Fidan is expected to be Turkiye’s winning horse on the chessboards of the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Black Sea.”