With Alliances in Mind, Turkey’s Erdogan Pays Surprise Visit to Tunisia
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to Tunis on Wednesday, becoming the first head of state to pay his respects in person to Tunisian President Kais Saied, elected in October. A statement issued by Erdogan’s office said only that he was accompanied by Turkey’s foreign minister, defense minister and intelligence chief on the previously unannounced trip. Ankara lately has been working to nail down alliances in the Mediterranean basin. It has been raising the ire of the Republic of Cyprus, and by extension the European Union, by sending drilling ships into hotly contested economic waters around the divided island in a search for carbon energy sources. Last month, it signed an agreement with the internationally recognized leaders of Libya, Tunisia’s neighbor to the east, setting out parameters for cooperation in this search. That agreement could also provide a framework for Turkish military assistance to Tripoli in its ongoing fight against a strong insurgency supported by Libya’s own neighbor to the east, Egypt, a longtime rival of Turkey.