Erdoğan seems to think that his best defense in the Mediterranean power game is an offense. On December 15, Turkish Naval Forces intercepted an Israeli research ship, the Bat Galim, in Cypriot waters and escorted it away, as tension over natural resource exploration continued to rise in the region.
On December 16, Turkey dispatched a surveillance and reconnaissance drone to the Turkish-controlled north of the divided island of Cyprus. A week before the drone deployment, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that Ankara could use its military forces to halt gas drilling in waters off Cyprus that it claims as its own.
The Mediterranean chess game leaves Turkey in alliance with the breakaway Turkish Cypriot statelet and one of the warring factions in Libya, versus a strategic grouping of Greece, Cyprus, Egypt (and the UAE), Israel, and the other warring Libyan group.
One emerging power in Libya, however, is not a Western state actor. After controlling Syria in favor of President Bashar al-Assad and establishing permanent military bases inside and off the coast of the country, Russia has the potential to step into the Libyan theater with a bigger proxy and direct force, to establish its second permanent Mediterranean military presence. As in Syria, where divergent interests did not stop Turkey from becoming a remote-controlled Russian player, Moscow can once again make use of the Turkish card to undermine Western interests in Libya.
Also as in Syria, Turkey's Islamist agenda will probably fail in Libya, but by the time Erdoğan understands that, it might be too late to get out of Moscow's orbit.