The Defection of Turkey

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An Escalation of Problems for Israel

In 2003 Turkey denied access to the US for the invasion of Iraq. This created a headache for the invasion plans which had to concentrate forces mainly in the south. Since then, and since Obama’s visit in early 2009, Turkey has publicly and serially taken sides with enemies of US: Hamas, Syria, Iran and Sudan. Each is a deadly enemy of Israel. Further, Turkey cancelled its participation in recent multi-national military exercises involving Israel – and thus forced the US to cancel the exercises altogether.

These developments are unprecedented. It is hard to characterize them as diplomatic theatre. We can conclude that a sharp break is definitely in progress here. So, what is going on?

Exactly what are Turkey’s interests? Well, ‘solidarity’ with fellow Muslims and reorientation towards the Muslim world seems to rank high. The ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) government has probably given up on EU entry. It was never keen anyway. Economically, the denial of full European Union membership spurs Turkey in the direction of the Middle East, where the AKP are inclined to go anyway for theological, historical and cultural reasons.

Now Turkey has many advantages. It is supposed to become the location of a reliable pipeline from Kazakhstan to Europe to by-pass the Russians! It possesses vast water resources. It has links with both western and eastern Europe. It has great links with most countries on the southern edge of the former USSR. It seems to be patching things up with Armenia. As far as I know, apart from the Kurds, it is relatively unified ethnically (unlike Iran or Syria). It has a modern military trained with Nato. It has a big population. It has a large and thriving economy.

In short, Turkey is a powerful regional force. Quite possibly, these shifts in Turkey’s orientation may be some sort of ‘Ottoman’ reassertion. Like those other reviving old empires, China and Persia, it wasn’t an empire for nothing. There is and was a sound geo-political basis for it.

Additionally, the AKP government is anti-secular, anti-European, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic and in the process of becoming ever more anti-democratic. Not having Turkey on-side is a big, big problem. One big danger is that this development will propel others in the same direction, such as Egypt – especially post-Mubarak. This seems to be the way the wind is blowing.

If this is correct, then all this is seriously bad news for Israel and fabulous encouragement to Hamas, Hizbollah, the PA, Syria, Iran, the Muslim Brothers and jihadists everywhere. They have the momentum and the west is floundering. It’s hard not to see that a major facilitator for this is the total lack of US leadership shown by Obama.
Jon Dyson

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