Turkish escalation in Cyprus: A 12-month outlook


    On the 28th of September 2022, Turkey announced it would expand its military presence in Northern Cyprus in response to the US lifting defence trade restrictions with Cyprus escalating ongoing tensions with its neighbour Greece. Turkey has a long history of acting in its own best interest and with a looming election and economic woes, this aggressive rhetoric will only grow in volume. Lack of willingness to follow sanctions against Russia will also test US patience.

    KJ-1: It is likely Turkey will continue to escalate militarily in the region in line with its own interests in the next 12 months.

    • Turkey announced it would expand its military presence in Northern Cyprus in response to the US lifting defence trade restrictions with Cyprus. (Source)
    • Both Greece and Turkey use increasingly incendiary rhetoric about threatening one another. (Source)
    • Turkey accuses Greece of using US weapons to militarise its islands. (Source)
    • Greece has refused to demilitarise the islands. (Source)
    • Turkey has ramped up its efforts to assert greater control over Cyprus over the last year. (Source)
    • Greece has offered to have constructive dialogue with Turkey but only if Turkey halts its escalation. (Source)
    • Turkey wants to join the EU but feels Greece and Cyprus are vetoing their application out of spite. (Source)
    • 2023 will see a general election in Turkey and Erdogan is desperate to boost the polls. (Source)
    • Due to the performance of the economy under Erdogan with inflation hitting 83% on the 3rd of October 2022, Turkey will continue to distract from internal issues. (Source)
    • Libya signing an agreement for energy exploration with Turkey in the Mediterranean has prompted backlash from Greece. (Source)
    • Turkey has a history of acting in its own best interests even if that be against its allies. (Source)
    •  Greece accused Turkey of being complicit in sending 92 migrants across the border. (Source)

    KJ-2: It is likely that United States-Turkish relations will worsen in the next 12 months.

    • Turkey condemned the lifting of US embargos with Cyprus. (Source)
    • Turkish media claims the US is completely opposed to a two-state solution in Cyprus and is completely in support of Cyprus. (Source)
    • The US is already displeased with Turkey’s attempts to join the Shanghai Cooperation Zone. (Source)
    • Turkey has only recently suspended the use of the Russian Mir payment system after backlash from Western leadership. (Source)
    • The US had to apply pressure on Turkey to follow sanctions against Russia. (Source)
    • Turkey’s incursion into Syria and opposition to Kurdish groups also lead to worse relations between the two nations. (Source)
    • The support for Azerbaijan by Turkey in its attacks on Armenia also serves to worsen US-Turkish relations. (Source)
    • Turkey is considering buying S-400 air defence systems from Russia which is a violation of Western sanctions. (Source)
    • US and Turkish officials held an unannounced meeting on the 2nd of October 2022 where the US expressed its concerns over increasingly separate policy. (Source)
    • 14th of October Turkey is going ahead with making Turkey a hub for Russian gas exports. (Source)

    KJ-3: It is a realistic probability that Turkey will use its strategically important position in NATO in order to achieve its goals in the next 12 months.

    • Turkey is utilising its position in NATO to block Swedish and Finish applications unless they change their policies more to Turkey’s benefit. (Source)
    • Sweden has announced it will resume arms sales to Turkey in order to appease their objections to their accession to NATO. (Source)
    • Turkey has fallen in line with NATO in opposition to the invasion of Ukraine. (Source)
    • Greece has complained to NATO requesting that it condemns Turkey’s inflammatory statements. (Source)
    • Turkey is too important to NATO for any other member to force it to act against its best interests. (Source)

    Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 26 October 2022

    Aidan Hickey
    Aidan Hickey
    Aidan is a Third Year War Studies Student at King's College London with a keen interest in the Middle-East and Insurgency.

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