NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
By Sea and Coast | 04/05/2020

Turkey’s Maritime Strategic Ambitions: The Blue Homeland Doctrine (Mavi Vatan)

At the end of 2019, Turkey signed an agreement with Libya, which gave Turkey the control of Libya’s maritime territory and established in practice a maritime corridor in the eastern Mediterranean. Controlling the maritime territory will let Turkey control vessel movement, the natural gas reservoirs, and the gas pipes in the area. For example, the pipes need to lay down from Israel to Greece and Italy. The agreement caused the dissatisfaction of the countries Greece, Egypt, Cyprus, Israel, and France, as well as the resentment of the UN, which didn’t approve the agreement. In February 2020, Libya’s National Army (LNA) announced it bombed a Turkish merchant ship in Tripoli port. The merchant ship carried weapons onboard for the government in Libya, which is supported by the UN and Turkey. An overall and strategic view on the sequence of events to which Turkey is involved lately sheds light on its efforts to become a regional maritime power. Turkey’s actions in the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, such as its latest actions in Syria, the Red Sea, and other places in the world, are a part of a complex and bigger plan, which was designed by Turkey to establish maritime control in its surrounding seas. The plan will allow Turkey’s economic and energetic independence and growth. The Turkish plan, known as “The Blue Homeland Doctrine” (Mavi Vatan), was announced by the Turkish Admiral Cem Gurdeniz 2 in 2006.

The Blue Homeland Doctrine

The Blue Homeland doctrine’s goal, which was announced by the Turkish Admiral, under the auspices of the government, is to achieve Turkey’s control and consolidation in the three seas surrounding it, to impart her regional and international influence and allow it energy sources, which will support its economic and demographic growth without dependence in other countries. Beyond the Blue homeland doctrine’s declared goals, Turkey’s hidden goal is the cancelation of the effects of the treaty of Lausanne, which was forced on the Turks in 1923. This treaty, which was forced Turkey after the first world war and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, narrowed its steps and made it be under western auspices during almost the 100 years that had passed since it was signed. Until the 2000s, Turkey enjoyed mostly western and American auspices, which allowed its sovereignty and to be secure from the communist threat. With the fall of the Communist bloc, Russia’s weakening, and simultaneously with Turkey’s economic and demographic growth (81 million citizens currently with growth prognosis of 90 million citizens in 2030), Turkey’s energy needs have risen - energy is the growth driver for Turkey’s economy. Turkey’s economy is mostly based on the local market economy, based on foreign influences and investments. Turkey’s energy sources based only upon external suppliers. Turkey’s primary energy suppliers are Russia, Iran, Iraq, and Libya. From those countries, Turkey imported in 2018 over a million barrels of oil a day and more than 51 billion cubic meters of gas. The basing on foreign energy resources makes Turkey, on the one hand, to be more combative and militarily active to ensure the continuance of energy supply (for instance, in northern Syria, northern Iraq, Libya, and the Horn of Africa). On the other hand, Turkey has a political commitment to these countries (Russia, Iran, Iraq and Libya), even if it doesn’t desire that. For example: The fighting in northern Syria, the tension and the delicate coordination in front of the Russians, illustrate Turkey’s commitment to Russia, even if it’s against its political, military, and economic interests. Therefore, the likelihood of a military campaign between Russia and Turkey (in general and in Syria in particular) is very low.

The first envelope includes the three seas which are surrounding Turkey - the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea, and the Black Sea. The second envelope and the strategic one, includes the Red Sea, the Caspian Sea, and the Arabian Sea, including the Persian Gulf. The Turkish dominance and the implementation of the “Blue Homeland doctrine manifest itself in Turkish maritime dominance in these areas, including control over oil and gas reservoirs. Another aspect of establishing dominance is Turkey’s political support of the region’s countries, the establishment of military bases, and training of military forces which will stand by its side. Turkey established military and naval bases in Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Qatar, including the training of soldiers, supply of weapons, ammunition, and other military support. Lately, it was even published that Turkey sent to Libya about 2,000 mercenaries from Syria and military advisers, who work in its name to defend and preserve the Libyan government.

The naval power force build-up

The Turkish navy operates regularly across the mediterranean Sea, in the Black Sea (with an emphasis in front of Bulgaria) and in the Aegean Sea, next to the eastern chain of islands of Greece. The Turkish navy had started to operate also in the Red Sea, in Bab El-Mandeb straits, in the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, and even operate in cooperation with Pakistan. The cooperation with Pakistan is based upon a strategic perspective in which it will be used by Turkey to develop a permanent presence in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Gulf. Turkey understands that its terrestrial topography, which is covered by mountains, is a defensive advantage and secure from ground attacks. Turkey’s maritime boundary, which extends over three seas, is its weak boundary on the one hand and the other, is the one that constitutes an opportunity to its energy needs and economy independence and expansion. This understanding, which lies well in the roots of the Ottoman history, brought Erdoğan a short time after his rise to rule, to begin in empowerment and a naval force build-up program, called Milgem.This understanding, which lies well in the roots of the Ottoman history, brought Erdoğan a short time after his rise to rule, to begin in empowerment and a naval force build-up program, called Milgem.

This program is prosperous of financing and means, also based on the understanding that the key to Turkey’s force build-up and its establishment as a regional and international power, is an independent and technological development of the local Turkish industry. The Turkish defense industry is focusing on the development and production of vessels, aircrafts, and advanced weapon systems for the military in general and the navy in particular. This and more, the Turkish ambition is to become a world-leading arms exporter, which will allow it to influence countries and policies, as occurs in the American, Chinese and the Russian models. Withing the Milgem project, four corvettes have been developed and built for antisubmarine warfare, one intelligence gathering corvette, four surface warfare frigates, and four frigates for anti-aircraft warfare. Within the project, four modern corvettes for the Pakistani navy are being built during the last years. During the last few years, 33 landing crafts were built for the Turkish navy, which are designed to land infantry troops and armored vehicles on enemy shores. Development of maritime flanking ability and the landing on beaches by Turkey allow it to operate against Greece’s eastern islands and take control of them during a campaign. In addition, Turkey builds independently in its local shipyards six German submarines of the U-214 model, under the approval and help from the German HDW shipyards.

The six Turkish submarines (includes AIP capabilities, which allow the submarines a long endurance under the water) are expected to be operational between the years 2021- 2027 and join the fleet of 10 more submarines, which Turkey has long been operating.The highlight of the Turkish naval force build-up is building the aircraft carrier, from which is expected that F-35 aircrafts will be operated. The aircraft carrier, which is supposed to be operational during 2021, develops a significant operational capability for Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, with emphasis on its operational activity in Libya, Sudan, and additional countries in the region. Turkey is considering building a second aircraft carrier. There is no doubt that operating the aircraft carrier develops a crucial deterrence capability for Turkey. During the next few years, the Turkish navy is expected to operate 16 reconnaissance airplanes, about 40 helicopters, 16 submarines (including the six new submarines), 21 frigates, 18 corvettes, 35 missile boats, 32 mine-sweepers, a mother ship for long-range logistics and supply, and dozens more of general vessels. In the Turkish navy serving about 260,000 soldiers, including commando units and marine forces,who are trained regularly by the USA and are equipped with the advanced anti-tank missiles, armored vehicles and weapons for land combat. These forces accumulated a vast operational experience in the campaign in Syria, and Libya, which is expected to help them improve their operational capability and combat doctrine.


The vision of the “|Blue Homeland that has been in practice in recent years represents not only Erdogan, the Turkish leader, but represents a Turkish nationalist aspiration, which calls for Turkey to go back and influence politically and economically on the region which was given through the Ottoman empire. Political and economic considerations drive the “Blue Homeland vision that its essence is to turn Turkey independent in the economic and energetic aspects. Turkey’s energetic independence is depending on its ability to operate and control the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. The “Blue Homeland doctrine brought to a significant Turkish naval force build-up that includes not only procurement dozens of new vessels and aircrafts, but also developing domestic capabilities and technologies for building vessels, aircrafts, sensors and weapon systems. The force build-up of the Turkish force will bring it in the coming years to operating a naval power of over 140 vessels (including submarines), over 60 aircrafts (including fighter jets), and thousands of marines. The force build-up steps of the Turkish navy are supported by additional political and military steps such as building military bases, training fighting units and supplying combat gear in distant countries like Libya, Sudan, Qatar, Somalia, and Pakistan. At the beginning of March 2019, the Turkish navy performed the largest combat exercise since its establishment. The training which was called The Blue Homeland, practiced and validated the Turkish doctrine from 2006 and gave a formal stamp to its military capabilities, including surface and underwater warfare, land-attack capabilities and landing capabilities.

Turkish naval ambitions came into reality 13 years after they were announced.

In a Turkish navy ceremony held in September 2019, Erdogan and commander of the navy were photographed against the background of the “Blue Homeland picture and thereby expressed the political validity of the plan. Erdogan realizes that Israel, Russia, France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Greece, and Cyprus don’t support his political-economic ambitions, and therefore operate to a slow and measured application of the doctrine so that it won’t be seen as threatening on the regional stability.But regionally, the implementation of the Turkish doctrine will ensure Turkey;s energetic independence and will allow it to be a maritime, economic and political power, w h i c h c o n t r o l s t h e w a t e r s o f t h e Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea, and the Red Sea.

1 The writer is a navy commander (ret.), and a former head of division in the Israeli security services. A researcher and a lecturer in the security and maritime strategy, intelligence and cyber. His doctorate dealt with the field of the maritime strategy and warfare. 2 The Admiral served in the Turkish Navy until 2012. Has extensive operational and command experience. In his last role serves as the Head of Division of Strategy and Planning in the Turkish Navy.


(2) Biological Warfare and the Coronavirus

An outbreak of virus was first detected in December 2019 (and maybe even earlier) in Wuhan city of China. The cause of the outbreak was identified as a virus from the Corona family (SARS-Cov-2), Which belongs to a family of respiratory viruses that usually cause mild respiratory morbidity. However, viruses from this family have also caused epidemics of severe respiratory infections and death on a wide scale. From the first Chinese report of its outbreak, the virus began spreading worldwide, across continents and countries, and as of this writing, the outbreak has been reported in 168 countries, and over 600,000 people have been infected and more than 25,000 people who died as a result of the infection (At the same time, about 125,000 people were reported to have been cured). On various websites and news, allegations have been made that the Coronavirus was developed in China's biological warfare laboratories in Wuhan city, and that its worldwide spread was the result of a malfunction or safety incident. Whether or not the allegations are true, this article examines some of the insights that can be learned from the Coronavirus spread and its impact on the future use of biological weapons.

On biological warfare

Biological warfare is a series of deliberate warfare efforts, which use pro-dispersed biological materials to disable or cause mortality through clinical disease infection, which spreads in humans, soldiers and civilians. The infection is carried out through effective adhesion mechanisms, which enable the rapid progression of the disease and relatively high mortality rates. Like chemical weapons and unlike kinetic weapons, biological weapons do not destroy sites, infrastructure and territories, but neutralize people over time, either in the home front or on the front.

Biological warfare brings with it the ability to not only disable or kill rivals, but also brings with it the ability to produce psychological warfare capabilities, the purpose of which is to create mass panic, severely affect the economy, commerce and adversely affect the adversary state in all ways of life and governance. Since the days of the Cold War, a new branch of biological warfare has developed, aimed at the destruction of fields and crops, as part of the perception that the destruction of the rival state’s agriculture will bring it into a state of famine and hence its submission. The use of biological warfare and disease dissemination as an effective means of neutralizing rivals to sow panic is not new in human history. In the centuries before BC, the Scythians used to smear their arrows with the droppings and blood of animals to infect their rivals with disease. The Persians, Greeks, and Romans, to achieve more killings of their rivals, used to poison water sources and wells through the corpses of animals that died from infectious diseases or through snake venom. In the centuries following, the Prussians, French, Spanish, and Italians used to dump the bodies of soldiers, horses, and other animals into wells to poison them.

In the 14th century, the bodies of infected soldiers were thrown by the Mongols into rivers and reservoirs, during a siege on cities near the Black Sea coast. The Mongol attacks resulted in the death of about one-third of Europe’s population three years later. Years later, the Russians infected their rivals with plague, the English sold to American Indians blankets with smallpox, the Germans transmitted disease-infected horses during the first World War, and the Japanese airplanes sprayed viruses on their rivals in China and Manchuria. Although not used during the Cold War between the Communist bloc and the Western bloc, biological warfare materials were incorporated into the Soviet Union and United States weapons stockpile. France and England have also developed and retained considerable quantities of biological weapons. By 1960, more than a dozen countries sought to obtain or possess biological weapons,including Western democracies such as Australia, West Germany, and Sweden and Eastern bloc countries such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, as well as other countries such as

Egypt, Libya, Iran, and China.

In 1973, the Biological and Toxins Convention (BTWC), which banned the development, production and storage of biological weapons for mass destruction, came into force (163 states sign the treaty and 20 countries did not sign it). The treaty did not stop states and terrorist organizations from developing biological weapons and means for carrying them and dispersing them. For example, Iraq which made efforts to produce biological weapons and to integrate them into the Scud surfaceto- surface missile warheads during the pre-Gulf War period (1991-1992). A few years later, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden’s terror organization, was equipped with biological weapons, which led to a series of biological terrorist attacks on US soil from 2001 to 1997, known as Anthrax terror or envelope terror” Modern technology has brought new capabilities for the development and production of more effective, more durable, and more complex biological weapons. Advanced capabilities have been developed for transporting and the spread of biological weapons. All these new developments in biological weapons are imposing difficulties in detecting them and defending from them.

Characteristics and capabilities of biological warfare materials

The biological agents cause the spread of disease in the form of bacteria, viruses or toxins. Examples of such biological materials are the smallpox virus, Anthrax bacteria, and the Ebola virus. The materials selected for biological warfare (neutralizing or causing death) will be those whose duration of incubation and proliferation will allow their operator to disappear before they are activated. Another parameter is that the biological materials will guarantee maximum operating time and damage without being identified as biological warfare agents. The longer the detection and realization that biological fighting material has been activated or dispensed, the longer and more difficult it will be to respond and defend against it. The biological warfare agents are characterized by being relatively simple and inexpensive to manufacture, especially using modern production technologies. Another feature that characterizes biological warfare materials is the ease and efficiency of transporting them to the desired destination and dispersing them by simple logistical measures over wide areas. For example, biological materials can be dispersed through spray bottles or postal envelopes (as was the case with the anthrax attack in the United States).It should be noted that the environmental and climatic conditions, such as the thermal stability of the air, the intensity and the wind direction, the rain, and the soil structure, have a crucial effect on the efficiency of the dispersal of biological warfare material.

material is that it is challenging to detect throughout its life stages - from the development stage in laboratories, production, transport and operation. The bright spot of using biological warfare is that there is a vaccine for most biological warfare agents and others for which there is no vaccine, the technology, and human knowledge are capable of providing an immune solution, even if it lasts for several months.

The Coronavirus and the Biological Warfare

Whether the Coronavirus was released and burst from the Wuhan City Biological Research Laboratory as a result of a mistake or a safety incident, or whether the virus started innocently as a result of an animal infection, insights into modern biological warfare can be

The first insight is that the outbreak of the Coronavirus demonstrates the effectiveness of biological warfare in neutralizing and killing people. On the other hand, the Coronavirus reflects the ability of biological warfare materials to neutralize states, not only military but also economic and political. The Coronavirus outbreak proves that beyond the contagion rate, the most significant effects came out are in the political, economic, social, political and even psychological aspects, and the fear created in the world population. Obtaining such effects by cheap, easy-tomanufacture biological weapons makes it an attractive weapon to be used by terrorist organizations.

The second insight is that in the age of globalization in which goods and people move across the sea, air and land, the ability to control and contain an eruption into a certain defined space is impossible.

The third insight is that the varieties of the biological warfare material dispersed may evolve from it (such as the strain discovered in Italy), and have different properties, thereby developing an inappropriate response or delaying the development of the optimal response against the biological warfare material.

Fourth, the development of biological warfare materials requires the simultaneous development of safeguards against it, to vaccinate the local population. The spread of the Coronavirus proves that there is no resilience to biological warfare, even in a country where biological weapons are being developed.

Another insight is that, together with the development of safeguards, the various international institutions obliged to oversee, control and enforce the use of biological warfare, so that a similar case of the outbreak of the Coronavirus will not happen proactively. Beyond that, it is necessary to emphasize the supervision of substances that are defined as dual-use and allow those who wish to produce biological weapons to bypass the Biological and Toxins Convention. Together with international control and enforcement efforts, a comprehensive intelligence campaign should be developed, in which intelligence will be regularly collected on the development and production of biological weapons by states and terrorists. This intelligence campaign is recommended to include operative counterterrorism activities.

The last insight from the outbreak of the Coronavirus underscores the need to invest in research and development of biotechnology infrastructure and solutions, which will provide a quick and effective response to humanity in the event that further epidemics develop, even as a result of accidental or deliberate activation of biological weapons. 11 MAY