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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 6-Jul-2010
6-Jul-10 News -- Turkey-Israeli relations continue to deteriorate

Web Log - July, 2010

6-Jul-10 News -- Turkey-Israeli relations continue to deteriorate

Iran complains that some airports are refusing to refuel Iran's planes

Turkey/Israeli disagreement appears to be permanent

Last week when it leaked out that officials from Turkey and Israel had had a "secret" meeting in Zurich, the immediate worldwide reaction was that they would patch up their silly little quarrel, and then everything would get back to "normal."

Israel vs Turkey <font size=-2>(Source: Time)</font>
Israel vs Turkey (Source: Time)

However, the news of the last couple of days appears to make that increasingly unlikely. The leak of the "secret" meeting is said to have infuriated the Turks, according to Hurriyet, on top of their existing anger over the deaths of nine Turkish citizens on the "freedom flotilla" confrontation near Gaza in may.

On Monday, Turkey threatened to completely cut diplomatic ties with Israel, unless Israel either apologizes for the deaths, or else agrees to accept the conclusions of an international investigation, according to the Guardian. This is the harshest threat by Turkey so far.

Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman responded by saying that "Israel has no intention of apologizing to Turkey," according to Israel's Foreign Ministry. He said that there has been a "dramatic change" in Turkish policy, because of domestic policy, and that Turkey's recent policy decisions have been "mistaken."

However, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being widely applauded in the Arab world for his tough stance toward Israel. An editorial in the Arab News expresses this view as follows:

"If Turkey contemplates such an extremely serious step it only demonstrates the Turkish government’s continuing anger at the slaughter of its nationals and Israel’s failure to address the issue properly. Ankara’s fury was no doubt stoked by the Israeli leak that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had secretly met with an Israeli Cabinet minister in Zurich. Turkey was clearly trying to persuade their erstwhile allies to adopt a more moderate and cooperative attitude in the face of world outrage at the commando attack on the Gaza-bound aid convoy.

It may have dawned on the Turks that quiet diplomacy simply does not work with Israelis, especially when they have an administration hell-bent on avoiding any sort of concession to anyone. Coming on the eve of this week’s meeting between the Israeli premier and President Barack Obama, the Turkish ultimatum is likely to add to the pressure on Netanyahu. The more radical members of his right-wing coalition government may be realizing that Israel is increasingly driving itself into isolation. If the Turkish demands are not met, it will lose one of its two allies in the Middle East and the situation may lead to the breaking of diplomatic links."

The significance of this opinion is that even if Erdogan were inclined to back down from some of his demands of Israel, to do so would risk generating an enormous backlash against Turkey from the Arab world.

In fact, neither the Turks nor the Israelis are able to back down without risking a backlash from their hardline supporters. So unless some magic formula is found for something that they can both agree to, the tension between Turkey and Israel is only going to get worse.

However, while Turkey is getting closer to the Arabs, Israel's traditional enemy, Israel is getting closer to Greece, Turkey's traditional enemy, according to Debka:

"Meanwhile, as Western and Turkish media outlets harped on Israel's loss of its only Muslim ally in the Middle East, Jerusalem was busy acquiring a new strategic partner: Greece, a NATO member like Turkey with plenty of Middle East interests, has shown interest in stepping into Turkey's shoes and investing in stronger military and intelligence ties.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly 450 reported on June 25 from sources in Athens and Jerusalem that this development was not so much planned in Jerusalem as initiated by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who boasts many Jewish and Israeli friends and business contacts, some of whom hold high political and intelligence positions in Israel. He saw Athens' chance to slot into Ankara's place in Jerusalem and transform their present diplomatic, economic, military and intelligence ties into a thriving strategic alliance, that would carry the same advantages to both sides as did Israel's former relations with Turkey.

According to some sources, Papandreou also hopes this alliance will help ease some of his country's financial woes. But most of all, he is looking to Israel for help in speeding the upgrade of his armed forces and helping transform them into the Christian mainstay of NATO in the Balkans and southern Europe - in place of the Muslim Turkish army."

If the Debka report turns out to be true as stated, then we are in the middle of a major political transformation in the Mideast.

New sanctions are denying fuel for Iran's planes

Part of the politics of the Turkish-Israeli disagreement is that Turkey is also siding with Iran on the question of sanctions. Thus, Turkey's sanctions against Israel may be considered revenge for the West's sanctons against Iran.

On Thursday of last week, the Obama administration imposed far-reaching sanctions designed to deny fuel imports to Iran, according to Reuters. Iran has a great deal of oil, but little refining capacity, and so must import its gasoline and other fuels. The new sanctions restrict these imports.

The result, according to an Iranian airline official, is that: "Since last week, our planes have been refused fuel at airports in Britain, Germany and UAE because of the sanctions imposed by America." So far national carrier Iran Air and Mahan Airlines had been affected.

According to the article, it's not countries that are imposing the ban, but private firms that fear violating the sanctions.

Additional links

It's the first anniversary of China's worst ethnic violence in years, the rioting by ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang province, but problems of discrimination still remain. Time

Widespread protests in India, far exceeding expectations, shut down much of the country on Monday. People were protesting the 30 cent per gallon rise in fuel prices, after the government decided last week to stop subsidizing fuel. NY Times

It takes longer to read a book on a Kindle or an iPad than an actual book. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jul-10 News -- Turkey-Israeli relations continue to deteriorate thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jul-2010) Permanent Link
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