Reset season in Turkish foreign policy
Turkeys presidents soft spoken words on the way back from one of his trips abroad regarding the restoration of ties with Israel did not hint to a radical change in these with the latter.
On the other hand the declaration made by AKP (Justice and Development Party) Vice-Chairman and Spokesperson Mr. Omer Celik whereby “The State of Israel and the people of Israel are Turkey’s friends” sparked hope on the future nature of the relations.
For years, the conservative religious public has been the target of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel brainwashing and biased reporting by the legally tolerated fundamentalist media. Hence, the conservative religious public, as well as “the men in the street” were appalled by that statement.
Many detractors criticized it by referring to the Koranic Surah Al-Maidah, verse 51, which advises Muslims not to befriend with Jews and Christians. They referred as well to the famous Gharqad Tree Hadith where trees and stones will snitch on Jews which would take cover behind these. Whereas, the secular/liberal opposition oriented media accused the AKP of incoherence and harshly criticized it recalling the “One Minute” show in Davos (2009) and the Gaza bound “Mavi Marmara / Freedom Flotilla” incident (2010).
AKP’s Vice-Chairman and spokesperson Mr. Omer Celik’s opening served the purpose of checking the pulse of the public opinion and enabling the detractors to express their objections to the revival of the bi-lateral ties; after which, President Erdogan asserted that “Israel needs a country like Turkey in the region. So we should concede that we need Israel as well.”
That unequivocal statement hints to a reset rather than a re-calibration of Turkish Foreign Policy.
Having said that, the above does not imply a change in the Islam oriented paradigm or ideology of the AKP.
The headlong “reset” manifesting itself in a 180 degrees U-turn in Turkey’s Israel policy probably indicates to a close and imminent threat perception by Turkey.
Otherwise, what could possibly explain AKP’s giving up on its anti-Israel stand which mobilizes the masses in its ranks and becoming bedfellows with the Israeli “monster”?
The 20 million US$ indemnity for the Mavi Marmara “martyrs”, the motivation to help the Gazans or the Israeli natural gas project which could be operational earliest in three years do not provide a plausible pretext for such a radical policy change.
WHAT’S GOING ON?
An important dimension of Turkey’s current dispute with Russia is the marketing of the Kurdish and contraband ISIS oil at prices much below the market value, which curtails the restoration of oil prices.
Moreover, the perception that Russia is interested in a controlled regional conflict in order to restore the oil prices is a source of serious concern. That perception finds its justification in the fact that Russia not only bombs the oil trucks operated by ISIS but it destroys the production facilities too. On the other hand, the considerable mutual commercial interests between Turkey and Russia, sustains the hopes that relations will not stay frozen for long.
Apologizing to Russia is much lucrative and easier than making a radical change in Turkey’s Israel policy!
Therefore reiterating the question “What’s going on?” becomes imperative.
REMARKS ON REGIONAL DIVIDES
The Principal ones:
1- Shiite – Sunnite
2- Persian – Arab
3- Arab – Israel
4- Russian – American
The secondary ones:
A- Iran – Saudi Arabia
B- Iran – Turkey
C- Iran – Israel
D- Palestine – Israel
E- Intra – Arab (Civil wars, Hamas – PLO, etc.)
Given the above perspective, it is possible to assume that the main source of common concern is IRAN!
This, for the good reason that the USA and the Europeans have acquiesced Iran becoming a regional nuclear power, against a hardly controllable dubious deal coupled with a warning to Israel not to attempt a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Hence, USA’s regional allies Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel found themselves deprived of American leadership. Russia’s siding with Iran made the threat perception visible and imminent.
Saudi Arabia’s initiative in concocting an Islamic Army proved to be a Sunni one.
The recent flare-up between Iran and Saudi Arabia could be evaluated in the above general perspective.
QUESTIONS WAITING FOR ANSWERS
Would Saudi Arabia succeed where Israel failed and drag the USA with a fait-accompli into a conflict with Iran?
Would the Saudi Unlimited Co. which perceives a threat to its regime, hence to its survival, attempt such a move?
If it does, would the USA abandon it to the fangs and claws of Iran?
In such a contingency, would Turkey and Israel fit in that equation?
Should they fit at all?!
Let’s wait and see!