In an attempt to become a new nation’s leader, Turkish President Recep Erdogan risks making Turkey a pariah state. By striking a deal on maritime boundaries with the controlled Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) in late November, Erdogan explicitly voiced his country’s territorial claims in the Eastern Mediterranean. As of now, it remains hard to give an unequivocal answer to the question of what he was counting on, depriving Greece and Cyprus of their sovereign rights to own, explore and enjoy the natural resources from their depths. Perhaps he was planning to manifest Turkey’s regional leadership, restore his nation’s greatness or secure some geopolitical goals. In effect, his move achieved the opposite of what it was intended: the wrath of his neighbors, criticism and condemnation by the international community and even allies. Regional isolationAggressive maneuvering by Ankara, disregarding the neighboring countries’ interests in a blatant violation of the existing international agreements, reflects its growing discontent or precisely resentment for being isolated.Having a relatively small exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean, Turkey was excluded from dialogue and cooperation with regional states whose aim was to develop joint projects on oil and gas extraction and further transit to central and southern Europe.According to the US Geological Survey, the deposits are estimated at trillions of cubic meters, worth hundreds of billions of dollars, in addition to millions of barrels of crude oil.In July, Israel, Greece and Cyprus alongside Egypt, Jordan, Italy and Palestinian authorities agreed on establishing the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum. This project envisions the construction of a pipeline to transport gas from both Israel and Cyprus to Greece and then to Europe.Although not only Turkey was struck from the forum (Lebanon was too), Turkey appeared to be incapable of dealing with such an “injustice” and went on the offensive.Ankara’s signalShortly after its announcement, Turkish media claimed an agreement on military cooperation and sea borders with Libya, and asserted Turkey’s and self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’s rights in the Eastern Mediterranean “in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration.”“Through this agreement with Libya, the two countries have manifested their intention not to allow any fait accompli,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu during talks with the GNA’s high-ranking officials.Over the last eight months, the forces of the GNA, made up primarily of outlawed paramilitary armed groups, rely on Turkish military support in their confrontation with Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar’s-led army in the south of the capital Tripoli.Ankara’s actions came as no surprise and once again highlighted its growing irritation over the fact that regional states enhance cooperation in spheres of common interests, ignoring the Turkish role. Taking into account its epic initiatives, whether in Libya or Syria, the expulsion from a prospective platform of regional cooperation in the energy sector seems to have become a serious blow to the ego of Erdogan who has been long plotting to revise the zones of influence in the Eastern Mediterranean.As a result, Ankara resorted to blackmail and issued a direct threat the forum’s member countries, declaring its intention to block the construction of a gas pipeline and exploration of new deposits.In mid-December, Turkish naval forces intercepted the Israeli Ben Galim research ship and forced it out of Cypriot waters where it was working in coordination with Cypriot officials.Illusory outcomesAlthough the Turkish leadership might honestly believe the approach it has adopted is efficient and appropriate in terms of strategic perspectives, its actual achievements are quite illusory. The policy is generally short-sighted. European countries are being increasingly convinced of the unpredictability of Erdogan’s Turkey. The international mistrust will only strengthen the isolation of the Turkish Republic, making it more aggressive in defending its interests.There can be no doubts that no one actor will recognize the agreement on maritime boundaries except for Turkey and Libya’s GNA. The latter is currently fighting for survival against Haftar’s forces that are backed by France, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and possibly the USA. Ankara used the weak and vassal, but internationally recognized Libyan government to make the agreement a little more “legitimate.” However, if the GNA is ousted, Turkey risks ending up with nothing. In this context, the latest threats by Erdogan to send troops to Libya shouldn’t be underestimated. Direct military interference in the North African state, which Ankara views as instrumental to keeping the GNA and all the signed deals alive, might become a bitter reality. The Turkish Parliament is expected to decide on the deployment in early January.In parallel, the contradictions between Ankara and its neighbors appear critical. The threat of armed conflict with Greece, Egypt and Israel because of economic or political disputes is tangible. Eastern Mediterranean states unite around what could be called the containment of Turkey by conducting joint drills and increasing their naval forces. In turn, the modus operandi of Ankara – which abandons hope for joining the European Union – will most likely be as aggressive as ever and at odds with the interests of Europe and regional states.It’s difficult to predict how many red lines the Turkish sultan dares to cross to make his colossal ambitions reckoned with. One thing is for sure: The game in regional hegemony is doing no good for him. The latest public opinion polls show that the approval rating of the country’s foreign policy and the president himself have experienced a sharp decline. Unlike Erdogan’s current administration, the Turkish people see opportunity in building bridges with the EU and hope for resolving the decades-long controversies with Greece and Cyprus that don’t add to stability along the Turkish borders.The policy that Erdogan owes to nationalist values and setting Turkey against the outside world is a ticking time bomb. Ankara’s actions in the Mediterranean send an important signal to all of us about the danger created by the waning regime, convinced of its impunity.The writer is a Libyan journalist with a long history of studying and covering Libya and the Greater Middle East.