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How Turkey’s foreign affairs 'strongman' left his mark

Sources say Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s close circle is keen to develop the relationship with Israel in terms of the energy dimension in the wake of the crisis with Russia.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks with Turkey's Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu on the sidelines as their two heads of state address reporters at the Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTS753C

Without any doubt, Feridun Sinirlioglu, undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry, is Turkey’s “strongman” in foreign affairs. He’s not at the level of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, but he is seen as the “architect of Turkey’s Middle East policy,” which has come under severe criticism. Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry is the highest position for any career diplomat, and Sinirlioglu has been serving under that title for six years. Nobody in the history of the ministry has kept the title while simultaneously having the title of foreign minister, but Sinirlioglu did. He was the foreign minister while preserving his portfolio as the undersecretary during the interim period between the election of June 7 and the rerun election of Nov. 1.

Sinirlioglu was appointed undersecretary after serving as Turkey’s ambassador for only one country. That country was not the United States or England or even Russia or Belgium, which are traditionally important posts to be elevated to the highest bureaucratic position of the ministry. He was the ambassador to Israel.

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