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The military power of the Republic of Turkey in the military projections of the Middle East region
Material posted: Publication date: 21-07-2021

Today, Turkey, as a state that is politically, economically and militarily dependent on Western countries, is gradually trying to transform into a state that implements foreign and domestic policy independent of its Western partners.

The Turkish armed forces are one of the largest in the Middle East and in the NATO bloc as a whole. They have combat experience gained during the military operation to capture Northern Cyprus, in the Syrian Arab Republic, on the territory of Iraq and in Libya. The military policy and the construction of the country's armed forces are based on the military-political and strategic goals of the Turkish top leadership at the present stage, as well as historical features and economic opportunities.

Turkey extends its influence over a huge area from Libya to Kashmir. The head of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, Yossi Cohen, said that the Erdogan regime is becoming a threat to the region[1]. A block of Turkey's opponents is gradually being formed, which includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Greece, France, Israel, and India. Other powers-Qatar, Pakistan, Malaysia-are increasingly cooperating with Turkey. A completely new system of blocks is being built in the world.

The armament of the land forces consist of: PU OTR – 36; battle tanks – approx. 4000[2]; guns PA, mortars and MLRS over 6000; anti – money- approx. 4000 (ATRA – approx. 1500, guns PTA – approx. 2500); PU Zur – 105; MANPADS – approx. 1500; armoured combat vehicles over 5000 aircraft and helicopters of army aviation – approx. 500[3]

The Marine corps is used for actions as part of amphibious landings to capture sections of the sea coast, islands, ports, fleet bases, coastal airfields and other enemy coastal objects.

In the Turkish-Egyptian confrontation, the military capabilities of these countries can also be noted as equal, but here Turkey has, as before, an advantage primarily in military-technological terms. However, neither side has a decisive superiority for a decisive and confident victory here. Both countries spend significant financial resources on the purchase of the most modern weapons, including Russian ones. Turkey also has a powerful military-industrial complex by regional standards. These countries have no direct access to each other for the full-scale deployment of ground forces and air forces in the theater, such as Turkey and Iran, for example. The conflict may be mediated on the territory of other countries in the region, where their interests will clash, for example, Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia and the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt has significantly more allies in the region.  For example, in the confrontation on the territory of Libya, the operational lines of the Egyptian Armed Forces come close to the Libyan theater of military operations, it is a matter of technology to stretch them to the Libyan capital Tripoli, and Turkey needs to overcome the Mediterranean Sea. In this case, Turkey does not have a decisive advantage. In addition, Turkey can support the movement of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt for destabilization, whose social support in this country, although it has gone underground, is still strong.

For example, at the beginning of 2021, the number of military personnel in Turkey was 300-35 thousand people, in Israel the same figure is almost half as many as 170 thousand, but Israel has more reservists, 465 thousand former military personnel are ready to strengthen the IDF at any time.

Israel's military budget is several billion rubles. higher than that of Turkey.  According to the SIPRI Fact Sheet, the military expenditures of these countries for 2020 amount to $ 21.7 billion for Israel, and $ 17.7 billion for Turkey. In addition, the Israeli armed forces in armament and equipment always keep up with the times, and in some moments even sometimes ahead of it.  Today, the Israeli Armed Forces are capable of conducting a high-tech war with the use of various types of weapons, and in this case, Israel primarily relies on its air defense, air force, MLRS, self-propelled guns. In Turkey, they do not spare money for the development of air defense and armored vehicles.

  • the depth of the operation is small (20-25 km);
  • the purpose of the operation-the city of Afrin-was not particularly difficult during the assault (50 thousand inhabitants, mostly low-rise buildings);
  • Geographically, this theater itself is a kind of analogue of the territory of Yemen. Three mountain serpentines running in intersecting directions to the city of Afrin, along which the Turkish columns can stretch for quite long distances. At the same time, the road itself and every turn of it is a place for an ambush by Kurdish detachments.

In addition, it was possible to squeeze out the Kurdish groups from this territory. They left the Syrian cities of Tel Rifat and Manbij and retreated 30 km south of the Turkish borders, thereby losing the opportunity to attack Turkish troops in the south-east of the country.

Thanks to the support of the NTC from Turkey, H. Haftar's troops lost control of all major cities west of Tripoli by April 13, 2020. Turkey has certainly achieved a strategic success by breaking the year-long siege of the Libyan capital Tripoli and pushed the LNA forces back to their original positions in April, and the turning point in the military situation in Libya was undoubtedly the result of Turkey providing direct military support to the official leadership of Tripoli. At the same time, the powerful offensive of the PNS with the military support of Turkey showed that the LNA XHaftar and his sponsors, represented by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have sent a clear signal that it will no longer be possible to overthrow the NTC in Tripoli by military means[7].

In July 2020, an agreement on military cooperation between Turkey and Libya was also signed. The NTC and Turkey have signed a defense agreement that gives the Turks a mandate for direct intervention, including to protect the official leadership of Libya. Official missions of the Turkish ground forces, air defense, air force and UAV command began to unfold in Libya. The agreement also provides for the establishment of a Turkish military base and the presentation of diplomatic status to Turkish military personnel. In addition, Turkish advisers and officers received full immunity from prosecution. Ankara also received the right to train and equip the police of the Libyan government. The agreements were concluded during the visit of Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and the head of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces, Yashar Guler, to the Libyan capital.

The probability of a full-scale war between Egypt and Turkey in Libya was unlikely, but Turkey, however, demonstrated that it is serious about supporting the NTC and pursuing its vital interests in the region, even if it has obvious problems with operations in a remote theater, logistics and the potential for deploying a serious military contingent in Libya.

Continuing operations against the Kurds in northern Iraq in 2020, from June 15 to September 5, 2020, military operations "Eagle's Claw" and "Tiger's Claw"were carried out.  The air part of the Eagle's Claw campaign began on June 15, 2020, and the ground part of Operation Tiger's Claw was launched on June 17. Until June 17, Turkish Air Force aircraft carried out strikes on PKK bases in the mountainous regions of Iraq, both on previously identified and on those reconnoitered during the beginning of the operation.  On June 17, Turkish special forces launched an operation on the territory of northern Iraq with the support of combat helicopters, attack and reconnaissance drones, as well as fire support equipment. Before the start of the operation, the artillery calculations of the Turkish Armed Forces stationed in the region subjected the enemy's positions to massive shelling.

In addition to numerous advisers, Turkey has seconded 200 military personnel to Azerbaijan as part of a tactical group.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo also spoke about Turkey's active role in the conflict. "Now the Turks have intervened and provided resources to Azerbaijan, thereby increasing the risk, adding fuel to the fire of what is happening in the historical battle in a place called Nagorno – Karabakh - a small territory with a population of about 150 thousand people," he said in an interview with the WSB radiostation [11].

[5] Global Firepower (GFP) is undoubtedly an authoritative resource. There are, of course, some conventions and assumptions, but the evaluation criteria take into account several dozen defining statistical parameters, as a result of which the rating itself looks quite objective and worthy of attention. However, as the author of this article believes, there are certain shortcomings and shortcomings in this evaluation system. The rating data is most accurate and correct in the top three countries, then the number of factors affecting the state of military power of each of the countries begins to increase, which gradually begins to affect the final rating indicators. The further away from the first three, the errors and inaccuracies increase. Even before the top ten or the first 15 countries, we can assume that the gradation is justified, but still, questions are already beginning to arise here. Further, up to the first hundred countries, there are a lot of factors of influence and errors, which increases the controversy and accuracy of the rating. Further, these factors and errors decrease and the rating gradually acquires the most accurate representation. - Note by the author of the article.

Tags: assessment , Turkey

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