Turkish fleet visit to Oman aimed at boosting political ties, say experts

Muscat - 

The visit of a Turkish anti-piracy fleet to Oman on Sunday represents a country keen to show its strength and forge closer links to the countries in the region. This will be an ideal opportunity to market their products, according to leading experts in naval maritime affairs.

“Turkey has long pursued a policy of acting as an independent bridge for a variety of military operations and defence policy between the East and West,” said Bob Nugent, VP of Advisory Services at AMI International.

With the recent sale of two 60m patrol ships to Turkmenistan, which represents a first overseas sale in the history of Turkish naval shipbuilding, a number of GCC countries are looking to Turkey as a possible source of cheaper but still effective platforms, said Nugent.

“A bilateral approach to Oman from Turkey on joint counter-piracy naval exercises as a key part of regular naval deployments to the region fits Turkey’s larger military and military-industrial goals.

“What better way to show off to potential political partners, and perhaps future customers, how effective and capable Turkish Navy ships, men and equipment are,” he said.

Sjoerd Both, a former captain in the Royal Netherlands Navy and deputy commander of the GCC-based Coalition Task Force 151, which conducts anti-piracy operations, echoed this sentiment. He said that the visit will be a good opportunity for Turkey to build relations with the sultanate and potentially help market naval products.

 “The Turkish approach fits the drive to establish the republic as a major regional power through strengthening its relations with other countries in the wider Middle East whilst maintaining its operational ties with NATO and the West,” said Both.

The fleet, comprises three frigates and a support ship, that makes up the Turkish Maritime Task Group. The fleet will also join international anti-piracy efforts in the area along with undertaking a number of bilateral exercises withthe other GCC states.

An EUNAVFOR spokesperson told Muscat Daily that there are no plans to join in the planned exercises between Oman and Turkey, but that they would work with all forces in the region in order to provide the most efficient patrolling of the area.

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