Erdogan: Israel in danger of losing its “best friend” in the Region
NATO HQ Seething

As funerals were held in Turkey on Thursday for 7 Turks and 1 US citizen, a new wave of anger swept over Turkey at Israel. The popular emotions have potential implications for Turkey and NATO in the Middle East, and therefore for the United States and the Obama administration.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara on Thursday that Israel must review its policies lest it lose its best friend in the region, i.e. Turkey.

He added, “We have made an effort to keep our friendship. But the Israeli government couldn’t maintain it and made a historic mistake. And it did not do so only against Turkey but against the people of 32 countries. There were no weapons on the ships, just humanitarian aid …”

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that “Turkey will never forgive this kind of attack in international waters …”

Turkey has recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv, and canceled, for now, a joint research project on energy issues. It is even planning legal action against Israel in Turkish courts. But Israeli arms sales to Turkey are are still on track, and despite a temporary fall in Israeli tourism, Turkey does $2.6 billion in trade with Israel annually, about one percent of its total.

ITN has a video report on the funerals and the anger:

Turkey is cental to the US military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. 70% of materiel for US troops in Iraq come in through Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey. And, Turkey has troops in Afganistan as part of the NATO contingent. Turkey is a key bridge for Obama to the Muslim world. Strategically, if the US had to choose between Turkey and Israel, it would have to choose Turkey.

Former UK ambassador Craig Murray, who was forced out of the Foreign Ministry when he blew the whistle on torture in Uzbekistan, reports the extreme unease felt in the halls of NATO in Brussels over the Israeli assault on a vessel from a NATO member nation. The blithely pro-Israeli attitude of Americans at NATO HQ only added to the tensions already obtaining between the US and its NATO allies over Afghanistan policy. The Obama administration has put enormous pressure on its NATO allies to increase their troop strength in Afghanistan, which many deeply resent.

Turkey is a country of about 73 million and is therefore more populous than France or the UK. It is the 18th most populous country in the world, after Germany, Ethiopia, Egypt and Iran. It has been ranked by some analysts as the tenth most powerful country in the world with regard to conventional military strength, just ahead of Israel itself. It is a NATO member and therefore a formal ally of the United States, which is bound to defend Turkey from attack, and it has preferential access to sophisticated US weaponry.

Economically, Turkey ranks 17 in the world for nominal gross domestic product. Turkey was not hurt as badly by the economic downturn in 2008-2009 as some others, and it is on track to grow over 6 % this year on exports. It may be this year’s fastest growing economy. It has been growing at a rapid clip during the past decade, and has attracted billions in foreign investment.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party is tinged with Muslim ideas, in contrast to the old officer corps elite of militant secularists. As Turkey has democratized, the Muslim and populist commitments of the people who live in towns and the smaller cities have become more salient. The JDP (AK Partisi) has also helped authorize a freer and more public role for Muslim fundamentalist NGOs such as IHH, the charity that helped sponsor the Gaza aid flotilla.

8 Responses

  1. Turkey banned the IHH from participating in aid to Bosnian Muslims as they were aware of its murky radical Islamist backers. So why now are the allowed too participate in the Gaza flotilla ? Talked about hypocritical. After getting the boot from entry to the EU, Turkey is making a play to the Arabs. Totally obvious real Politik. The flotilla stunt worked.

  2. INTERNATIONAL WATERS!
    Nothing else matters after that law of civilization is violated!

  3. Turkey is severing ties to Israel. Big deal, except for this:

    Israeli jets now have nowhere to practice their bombing runs.

    What a bunch of morons. Thet felt it was more important to sabotage peace than to keep relations with their lone ally in the region.

  4. Doubts Grow Over Israel’s Value as US Ally : “Israel’s disastrous raid in international waters Monday on a Turkish-flagged flotilla carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza has resurrected a long-running debate over whether Washington’s close alliance with the Jewish state really serves U.S. ‘strategic interests’. Ironically, one negative answer was provided in Jerusalem Tuesday by none other than the head of Israel’s vaunted foreign-intelligence agency, Mossad. Noting, among other things, the disappearance of the Soviet and Western blocs with the end of the Cold War, Mossad chief Meir Dagan told members of the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that “Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden.” That view was emphatically re-asserted the following day by one of Washington’s most highly respected and centrist Middle East analysts [Anthony H. Cordesman] in an essay entitled Israel as a Strategic Liability?that instantly became must-reading for regional specialists both in and outside the administration of President Barack Obama.

  5. I had read Craig Murray’s blog post at another site and spread it around because it’s rather important. Just as important, IMO, is this comment to Craig from another ex-insider–writerman:

    “Excellent piece. The atmosphere you describe is precisely the one I ‘gleen’ from people I talk to who move in more rarified circles than I’ve chosen to. Whilst you were pushed out, I went into exile freely.

    “Underneath the surface there are massive misgivings about the US leadership of NATO, and that US methods and interests simply don’t fit with Europe’s anymore. It was hoped that with the election of Obama things would change substantively, not cosmetically, from the Bush era. That, possibly, naive hope/delusion has been undergoing radical reappraisal over the last year or so.

    “It’s now quite clear that Obama does not represent a clean break with the past, but merely a continuation, with an emphasis on continuity, especially in relation to the Middle East and the conflicts in Asia. This continuity worries many people in Europe, who are uneasy about where this may lead, witness the sudden resignation of the German president who made a ‘gaffe’ about the connection between German economic interests and the war in Afghanistan.

    “Anyway, my fear is that the US is actually becoming more, not less, integrated with Israel, and that the relationship deeply harmful to the interests of the United States, which arguably cannot be the same as those of Israel.

    “My biggest fear is that the United States is coming to resemble Israel more and more in the way it conducts its foreign policy, in relation to the rest of the world. The die hasn’t been cast definitively, but that seems to be the way things are moving.

    “It’s startling; that even when the American people reject the policies of the Bush era and elect a president who they think represents the hope of change and peace and renewal, how much in practice, remains the same, almost as if the election had never taken place and didn’t matter. Ufortunately, from my ‘champange anarchist’ perspective, I suspect it didn’t, not really.”

    Fundamental International law and UNSC resolution 1860 demand the blockade be lifted and that all “member states” assist in this undertaking. Biden has said this Law is to be ignored, just as Bush and Cheney did before him, which confirms International Lawyer Phiippe Sands central thesis in his Lawless World. I would argue that advocating breaking the law that results in capital crimes fits the definition of a High Crime, as does the continuation od BushCo’s High Crimes by ObamaInc.

    Elsewhere, it’s being argued that Obama knew what would happen beforehand, that he lied when he said he needed to review the facts. I agree with this thesis. There will be no lasting peace on this planet until everyone is equally subjected to the law and held accountible for their actions. I believe the definition of a Rouge State turns on its obeying International Law and behaving in a civilized manner. As such, the USA and Israel are Rogue States, and peace will not come until they become civilized.

  6. NATO increasingly reminds me of the tragedy of the Delian League, the Athenian-dominated military force created to continue the alliance that had defeated Persia. Athens’ voters took to using the League to crush any opposition in the Greek world, until undemocratic Sparta believed it had to go to war to survive. Everybody was ruined, Athens fell under a junta, and the Greek world was easy pickings for Philip of Macedon.

    I don’t see a way out. If NATO is dissolved in favor of a proper EU military, Americans will freak out and vote in people to the right of Sarah Palin, with a mandate to wage eternal war against an ungrateful and wicked world – all of it, not just the easy marks. We will go from Athens to Sparta in an eyeblink.

  7. The question is whether the US wants real partnerships in the ME, or to dominate. If it want’s to dominate, Israel is the indispensable ally.

    So there’s no real question here. Does US policy in the ME look like partnershipping, or ‘we are the big dog, give us the bone’?

  8. […] on Iran, while also pressing Turkey (as a NATO member) to increase its troop levels in Afghanistan. Turkey also acts as a facilitator/conduit for around 70% of the US’s weaponry for the war effo… [May I also add here that it would not be 100% consistent or wise to give Erdogen or the Turkish […]

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