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Kori Schake

Libya Explains Why Turkey Has No Friends

In a decade, President Erdogan’s foreign policies have left isolated in its neighborhood.

Not the most popular man in the neighborhood.

Not the most popular man in the neighborhood.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

It is hard to credit now, but there was a time, only a decade ago, when Turkey described its foreign policy doctrine as one of “zero problems with our neighbors.”  But since then, Ankara has burned its boats with Israel over the Gaza Freedom Flotilla; angered Egypt by bitterly criticizing Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi’s military coup and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood; broken with Syria by assisting anti-Assad rebels (and more recently, invading the country’s northeast, there to forcibly repatriate refugees); and antagonized Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by siding with Qatar against their embargo.

Now, Turkey is providing direct military assistance to the government of Libya, while the UAE and Egypt—along with Russia—back the rebel army of General Khalifa Haftar. After the failure of cease-fire talks sponsored by Turkey and Russia, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to teach Haftar “a lesson.”