Alp Sevimlisoy Yatırım

Napoleon’s Corsica: President Biden’s Legacy in the Mediterranean

A Mediterranean Union, designed to mirror only the best elements of NATO and the EU, is the best hope for ensuring good governance and peaceful government across the region.

From the Roman era until the discovery of the New World, the Mediterranean was the home of the most valuable network of trade and commerce known to man. Then, the great powers of the day turned their attention away from the Mediterranean – known since ancient times as the Great Sea – in favor of the Atlantic. China’s global emergence and Russia’s regional escapades have underlined that the time has come to revert to the ‘Mare Nostrum’ itself.

The descendants of these proud Mediterranean people now hark back to better days and seek to construct new identities and alliances to counter globalist superpowers. To date, these efforts have been haphazard and uncoordinated, but the time is now ripe for a structured plan. A Mediterranean Union allied to the United States and NATO would redress these historical and current imbalances and fill the power vacuum to the benefit of America and its allies. Of all the peoples of the Mediterranean, it could be the Corsicans who take the first steps to realize this shared vision for the basin.

Corsica’s history is one that, in many ways, is representative of most of the territories on the Mediterranean’s shores. Previously independent for brief periods of the eighteenth century, and currently an integral part of France, Corsica has historically been ruled by Carthaginians, Visigoths, the Pope, and many of the independent city-states of Northern Italy. Many of its 350,000 population are direct descendants of Ottoman armadas that sailed in the Eastern Mediterranean during the centuries-long Franco-Ottoman alliance.

As an island fortress, Corsica was an attractive base for the British Navy. For a decade, Corsica’s self-rule was protected by an alliance with the United Kingdom. Corsica’s independence ended in what initially appeared to be a conquest by the French. Within years, Corsica put into effect a reverse takeover of the mainland when the island’s most famous son, Napoleon Bonaparte, overthrew the second republic to become Emperor of France.

Corsica – a nation in waiting

Corsica has many markers of a nation – a long, proud history, its own language and a fierce sense of its own exceptionalism. The Corsican people are keenly aware of the independence granted to or won by many of its neighbors across the Mediterranean’s southern, eastern and Balkan coasts. Cries for further devolution from Paris, a semi-sovereignty akin to Monaco’s, or even a total return to independence, are increasing. France will soon have to address these demands from its island territory. But the Champs-Elysée’s attention is on the power games north and west, in Berlin, Brussels and New York.

Macron cares more about machinations in the halls of the UN, his campaign for a European Army and preparing the ground for his post-presidential future on the European Commission than on the emerging constitutional crisis to his south.  France would be wrong to draw confidence from the failed independence movements of Europe’s other secessionist regions, Catalonia and Scotland. Corsica’s lack of a land boundary with its sovereign power brings more significant heterogeneity from the mainland, less land, less money, and fewer family ties. To avoid a loss of influence over Corsica, the United States, NATO and Mediterranean Powers must act.

Corsica is too valuable a territory to remain a province. Situated as it is in a golden triangle between wealthy Spanish Catalonia, the wealthier Cote d’ Azure, and the industrial heartlands of Northern Italy, Corsica’s geography lends itself to controlling some of the most important trade routes in the World. Imagine the shock to Europe’s commercial and military security were an insurrectionist and rebellious Corsica to accept the patronage of a Russia or China hungry to unsettle a complacent Europe.

Towards a Mediterranean Union

The growing chorus for Corsican independence is evidence that change is coming to the Mediterranean. As with Europe in the turbulence after World War II, the best way to insulate its peoples and the rest of the World from the instability of change is to create an international order built on trust, shared values and shared commitment to defense and economic stability. A Mediterranean Union, designed to mirror only the best elements of NATO and the EU, is the best hope for ensuring good governance and peaceful government across the region.

This Mediterranean Union would pull emerging regional powers such as Turkey and Israel into serving a joint mission of peace and growth. It could also act with the authentic urgency of concerned neighbors against destabilizing forces such as Russia and China in Syria, Lebanon, North Africa and to shore up the defenses of Ukraine. The contributions of the Turkish Armed Forces have been directly seen on the frontline as per the Bayraktar TB-2 drones which have been utilized by the Ukrainian security forces in successful aerial strikes against Russian vehicles and convoys.  Armed with its new domestically produced naval units including the TCG Anadolu Aircraft Carrier coming into force this year based on the Juan Carlos carrier designs, Turkey is well prepared for future strikes against Russian targets in the event of a need to defend further encroachment commenced by the Kremlin be it across the Black Sea or closer to one’s borders in Georgia or the Balkans.

he establishment of a novel ‘Stay-Behind’ akin to the GLADIO structure of the Cold War shall be imperative in both the Black Sea vis-à-vis the invasion of Ukraine to ensure full covert civilian and military repercussions in the event of further expansion by the Russian Federation and also protecting nation-states against future Chinese Communist Party-aligned governments in the Mediterranean via placing the necessary structure in place to ensure these administrations do not have the capacity to function in a manner which would undermine the rules-based established order.

For a Mediterranean Union to succeed, it would need to be created with the support and sponsorship of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Turkey and the larger nations of the EU – including Italy.

Britain, newly rediscovering its heritage as a global trading power, will soon remember how vital a naval presence in the Mediterranean is for its interests. London is already experiencing deeper diplomatic and military engagement with Turkey than at any time since the Crimean War of 1850.

rading access to her harbors for guarantees of security and independence, Corisca will find herself home to naval bases for navies from across NATO. Indeed, in the emerging hypersonic era where China has established a seemingly unassailable advantage, Corsica will become vital for maintaining NATO supremacy over important sea routes and hosting elements of the Transatlantic alliance’s nuclear deterrence.

To protect America’s interests, both President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken urgently require a policy for Corsica and the Mediterranean region. President Erdogan, via the recent joint security operations, carried out between the intelligence services of the Turkish Republic and the State of Israel alongside Turkey being the first nation to provide combat-ready hardware in the form of TB-2 drones to Ukraine, has demonstrated that he has been visionary in the ever-necessary doctrine of rising Regionalism in the face of a diminishing Globalism. The current Biden administration should aim to formulate a plan for the wider Mediterranean with key regional leaders such as both President Erdogan and the expected future President of Turkey, current defense Minister General Hulusi Akar.

Akar has been the most vocal proponent of Mediterranean multilateralism and has acted to create the framework of an emerging regional security apparatus to complement NATO’s objectives for the region. A new cadre of Vice-Presidents (currently only one VP position exists) will also be well-positioned to build further on the current prowess of the Turkish Republic, with the nation now being a confident independent pan-regional power committed to Atlanticist values, as Akar’s Vice-Presidents.

The Presidency of General Akar shall redefine both the Mediterranean as a region into a basin of mutual security and prosperity as well as enable the region to become one of the major forces in global stability for NATO, Turkey as well as the United States. Ambassador Jeff Flake, a high-profile appointment in Ankara, must work with local power brokers to ensure that the pan-regional power that is the Turkish Republic, is now seen as the definitive might of NATO, indispensable in countering both Eurasianism domestically as well as curbing the movements of the Russian Federation as well as that of the People’s Republic of China.

The recent success in ensuring new NATO entrants such as Finland and Sweden being provisioned membership on the basis of full adherence to the just security concerns of Turkey are a clear demonstration of the Turkish prowess on the global stage. Blinken’s policy in tandem with that of President Biden’s should include a view on Corsica’s future, whether complete independence, Scottish-style devolution, or Monegasque semi-sovereignty. It should also feature plans to invest across the Mediterranean in a manner reminiscent of the Marshall Plan, and structures to coordinate and lead cooperation of the nations on both the oriental and occidental shores of the Sea.

At times of great uncertainty, where the fear of inaction almost outweighs the risk of acting and losing, it is valuable to remember the importance of first-mover advantage. If Biden, the Turkish Republic, The State of Israel, and NATO are first to move to create a Mediterranean Union, they will earn the role of ‘forefathers’, to this changing region and will have the influence and opportunity to shape developments in our interests for decades to come.

Alp Sevimlisoy is the CEO of his flagship private asset management corporation headquartered in Istanbul, and a Millennium Fellow at the Atlantic Council headquartered in Washington, DC. Alp Sevimlisoy is also an internationally published geopolitical strategist & national security expert on the Mediterranean & NATO, focusing on regional unionism & defense policy. He has also published extensively on the role for a unified Mediterranean Command Structure within NATO. He has served as an advisory board member at Bayes Business School (formerly Cass Business School).

Peter Woodard is a Canadian-British executive with a geopolitical focus on the moving parts within NATO and the potential for an expanded role within the region. He has spent considerable time consulting stakeholders in Mexico on its role in supporting Western initiatives including USMCA (formerly known as NAFTA). He has co-authored editorials focused on international affairs.

Jennifer Walters is an active-duty United States Air Force Major serving as a speechwriter in the National Capital Region. A KC-10A instructor pilot, Jennifer led aircrew on air refuelling, humanitarian, and contingency operations across the globe. Major Walters is a distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and holds a Master of Philosophy and PhD in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She is also the co-founder of Air Mobility Command’s Reach Athena that identifies and addresses female and family-centric barriers to readiness. She is also a Millennium Fellow at the Atlantic Council.


Alp Sevimlisoy originally featured as per: Israel Hayom