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Israel and Turkey: no love lost

by Migeru Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 07:16:59 AM EST

A couple of years ago, Turkey was one of Israel's most important allies. But we are told (The Guardian, May 25)

relations between Turkey and Israel have deteriorated since the Israelis launched a three-week war on Gaza in 2008-09
In fact, The Guardian painted the flotilla as a deliberate provocation by Turkey:
A flotilla of eight boats carrying thousands of tonnes of construction materials, medical equipment and other aid is preparing to sail to Gaza in the next few days, setting the scene for a confrontation with Israel which has vowed to prevent the ships breaking the blockade on the Palestinian territory.

...

One of the organisers of the flotilla, which includes three vessels from Turkey, is IHH, a humanitarian aid group supported by Ankara. Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel have deteriorated since the Israelis launched a three-week war on Gaza in 2008-09. An attempt to block the flotilla is likely to increase tensions between the two countries. The Turkish prime minister, Racep Tayyip Erdogan, has called on Israel to avoid this be allowing the boats through.

As announced, Israel intercepted the flotilla in the high seas and towed it to Ashdod. However, excessive force was used and Turkey does not appear ready to let it rest.
NATO will hold emergency talks on Tuesday at Turkey's behest after the deadly Israeli raid on a flotilla of aid-carrying ships bound for Gaza ...

...

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Santiago, Chile, that his government was demanding the NATO council gather to address a crisis that has already seen Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a visit to Canada and Washington where he had been due to meet with US President Barack Obama on Tuesday.


The relationship between Israel and Turkey took a turn for the worse this past January, when

Israel summoned the Turkish ambassador, Ahmet Çelikkol, to complain about a Turkish television drama that depicted Israeli security forces kidnapping children and shooting elderly men.

Last night the ambassador was called to the Knesset office of the Israeli deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon. With television cameras filming, Çelikkol was seated on a low sofa before the Israeli officials who sat on higher, upright chairs. There was no handshake or refreshments, only an Israeli flag on the table between them.

Ayalon turned to the Israeli television journalists and photographers and said in Hebrew: "The important thing is that people see that he's low and we're high and that there is one flag here." When journalists asked Ayalon to shake hands with the ambassador, he said: "No. That's the point." Turkey summoned the Israeli ambassador today to express its "unease" over the incident.

Israel soon ended up apologizing, but the resentment runs deep:
Foreign Ministry officials on Thursday slammed a group of 17 MKs who sent a letter of apology to Turkey over Ayalon's treatment of the ambassador.

"Ayalon respects the MKs who apologized, but where were they over the past two years of anti-Semitic broadcasts in the Turkish media and unbridled criticism of Israel from Ankara," one official told Israel Radio.

"After two years in which Turkey has failed to get the diplomatic message, we had to start making a noise," a member of Ayalon's staff said.

The Israeli campaign in Gaza since 2008 has not pleased Turkey, and PM Erdogan doesn't mince words:
Erdogan added more criticism of Israel, telling a news conference: "Israel must put itself in order and it must be more just and more on the side of peace in the region."

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday said Israel doesn't want a confrontation with Turkey, but that it won't tolerate anti-Semitic remarks and incitement against Jews.

Haaretz clearly blames the diplomatic trouble on Erdogan (the islamist, he)
Meanwhile, a leader article in Thursday's edition of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, an Arabic-language newspaper published in London, praised Turkey's stance in relations with Israel, commenting that Israel's government understood no language other than force.

Despite Israel's official apology and a Turkish declaration that the crisis is over, relations between the two countries have been damaged irreparably, the newspaper said, predicting that Turkey and Israel would never again be as close as they were before Recep Tayip Edogan, the Turkish prime minister, came to power.

Turkey is undergoing a strategic shift, the paper said. With the road to Europe barred, Erdogan's government is turning eastwards towards the Muslim world.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that Turkey feels snubbed by the West (lately, by the EU's insincere position on Turkey's accession). This just in from Al Jazeera blogs:
Long considered as a meeting point for East and West, the country's recent foreign policy has reflected this, balancing the interests of Western powers with the interests of the weaker countries their policies affect.

Fresh examples of Turkey's willingness to act outside the Western international consensus are not hard to find; this week the country is hosting an aid flotilla bound for Gaza; last week, it was brokering a deal with Iran on the removal of enriched nuclear fuel to diffuse tensions between Tehran and the US.

"We try to engage all actors in the region," Ibrahim Kalin, an advisor to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, told a special panel on Turkey at the Al Jazeera Forum on Sunday.

Turkey "acts outside the Western international consensus" when it embarrasses the US by acting according to the values that the West claims to profess. An example of this was the so-called "alliance of civilisations" spearheaded by Erdogan and Spain's Zapatero after the latter's election in 2004, and which was endorsed by the UN. Spain is also behind the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement on nuclear power, but US Secretary of State Clinton has criticised the deal as dangerous for global security. So, now that Israel has (not wholly unpredictably) killed civilians on a Turkish vessel trying to break the Gaza blockade with Turkey's government endorsement, Erdogan is calling Israel's action "state terror" and calling for a NATO meeting to discuss the "crisis", presumably threatening to invoke NATO's mutual protection clause. Will the US tell Turkey that it's being reckless (seeing the tone of Clinton's remarks on Iran)? Will then Turkey leave NATO on the US' refusal to allow Chapter V to be invoked? Note that reportedly several European countries have either recalled their ambassadors to Israel (as Turkey appears to have done) or summoned the Israeli ambassador to their countries for talks.

Interesting times...

Display:
And now I'll be going to bed and in radio silence until Saturday night, so be good and don't debate anything I wouldn't debate...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 08:13:31 PM EST
A major component of Turkey's actions here could involve attempting to tamp down tensions between India and Pakistan, if there is any means of so doing. Turkey and Pakistan are the two major Islamic military powers. India might see advantages in having Pakistan focused on the tensions between Israel and Turkey, as might the government of Pakistan. Hinting at and making overtures towards bringing Iran into the mix could be another step. Then things could get really interesting.

If Spain feels pressured financially and sees connections between that pressure and these politics, it could hint that default might be a superior option on several fronts. Nothing like tanking the markets to make your point. It is a game many can play. Wish I had put a bunch of my IRA into SP, and inverse S&P 500 fund, on Friday, as I was considering doing.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 10:57:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"deteriorated since the Israelis launched a three-week war on Gaza in 2008-09"

But it was really a massacre of 1,400 mostly innocent civilians, including over 300 children, not a war. A turkey shoot, according to some refusnik ex-Israeli soldiers. The pictures of gore could not be believed. But mostly I think it was Israel's pretext: it broke the ceasefire only two months before the Israeli election. Netanyahu was claiming that Kadima was "soft" on Palestinians (and don't ask me what that meant). So the monster trioka: Barak, Olmert, and Livni, sought to prove otherwise and they let Palestinian blood flow.

Barak sent troops in and killed six Hamas militants contrary to the rules of the ceasefire. It was broken. Hamas reacted and rockets began flying again.

Erdogan, I think, understood that the taking of 1,400 lives was nothing more than a political advertisement, if a bloody one. But that's how Palestinians are viewed in Israel, as chattel, "dirty Arabs," cheap life.

by shergald on Mon May 31st, 2010 at 10:44:16 PM EST
I think that for all the talk of BRIC nations flexing their new power in the world we are seeing the emergence of Turkey instead on the greater international stage.

One issue with Israel has always been that the usual suspects, eg Syria et al, are not militarily capable of standing up to Israel.  Turkey on the other hand, is someone Israel's own size in that respect and likely bigger.

Does Israel dare take the same approach with a much stronger opponent than it has with the relative weaklings it has dealt with in the past two decades?  In tassling with Iraq, Israel had the US in their pocket.  Turkey, again, does not fit this mold, and is in fact in NATO, a binding military agreement with the US, not to mention far more important to the world outside than Hussein-ruled Iraq ever was.

Frankly, I see Turkey as recognizing that if the US isn't going to do anything about Israel's action in Gaza then someone has to, and they are the ones who can handle the job.

This, from my view, indicates that this story has only begun to unfold.

by paving on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 03:33:17 AM EST
paving:
Frankly, I see Turkey as recognizing that if the US isn't going to do anything about Israel's action in Gaza then someone has to, and they are the ones who can handle the job.

Not to mention Turkey's little peccadillo with Brazil and Iranian nuclear fuel.

Turkey have the potential to be wield enormous strategic clout.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 10:09:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkey have the potential to be wield enormous strategic clout.

I think that the Armenians are going to be looses in all of this?

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 12:20:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps and perhaps not. Even more the Kurds inside Turkey and on its border ... perhaps, and perhaps not.

After all, if Turkey is aiming to get support more broadly both within the Muslim world as well as in Europe and Latin America, it would be a good time not to have any embarrassing incidents with the Kurds.
 

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 01:57:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The climb down from that mess is going to be difficult for everybody. And talking of the Kurds, I'm wondering if they haven't just found themselves a brand new ally.

If that situation keeps getting worse and Turkey pushes its strategy too far, I wouldn't be surprised if Israel went for payback through the Kurds.

by Francois in Paris on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 07:48:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or was it Israel training the Kurds 5 years ago that sent Turkey on this new kick in the first place?
by Upstate NY on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 11:41:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mmm, doubt it. That was in mid-late 2004 or so.

The pissing contest was already under way before that, for instance when he refused to receive Sharon in 2003. After that, it's really been hot and cold between those countries.

by Francois in Paris on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 12:23:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
he refused I mean Erdogan
by Francois in Paris on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 12:33:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkey has the capability to force the US to decide between NATO and Israel.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 11:28:02 AM EST
Hardly. If a core member like Germany, France or Britain had been involved, then it would have been a choice between NATO and Israel.

This situation can end in one of two ways, as far as NATO is concerned: Either Turkey is paid a hefty bribe to shut up and sit down, or Turkey is rudely ejected from NATO. That wouldn't be the end of NATO, but it would demonstrate to every other peripheral NATO country - including "New Europe" and the wannabes in Central Asia - that NATO is prepared to jettison any peripheral country that doesn't narrowly comply with American foreign policy.

How much damage that would do to NATO's attractiveness is, of course, an open question, given that most of "New Europe" and the Central Asian wannabes practically have their lips glued to the US' ass. But we are unlikely to see the experiment decide the case, because I think Turkey will be paid its hush money.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 11:43:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trying to throw out Turkey could be ugly enough to bring down the whole structure. Is there a formal process?
by generic on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 12:15:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Any signatory may demand renegotiation of the treaty. So yes, there is a formal process.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 12:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They won't be kicking anyone out. They will just have to live with people being pissed at each other.

It's not the first time.

by Upstate NY on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 11:43:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But if Turkey is really pissed it can just sit there and veto everything. Then we're back to buy off or throw out.
by generic on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 03:14:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No; Turkey's current solutions are to continue advancing with the tools that others should have been using for the last decades. They will give them a moral positioning world-wide and be remembered in the region for the boldness that it is for a long time.

  1. International Court
  2. Their own country courts
  3. Turkish ships of war to escort the next flotilla


Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 05:53:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One problem in this is that Turkey is not signatory to any covenants on international laws of the sea, and has not acknowledged the right of international courts over the sea.
by Upstate NY on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 09:07:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, well...hmmm. Just when I had the world tending toward balance again.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 04:06:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Might be a good time for them to sign. If they don't want to do that they could declare a state of war and demand non-military cooperation from NATO signatories. And the "law of the sea" is much older than the recent treaties, anyway. They could always act in accordance with the latest treaty and ask why they should sign if other signatories won't act on their obligations.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 11:21:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not the best precedents to set, though.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 11:33:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's amazing how many countries manage to act in ways that set not so good precedents.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 07:48:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, let's find out, why don't we.

Myself, I don't think so. I think that Turkey has turned a corner and is casting the die. They have sloughed off the insult from the US for the brokered Iran deal, and are upping the ante.

They must have figured that there were pretty high odds that Israel couldn't let the ships pass, and that there would be a provocation as a result. In reality, what choice did Israel have? This symbol was just too big.

Will they escort the next bunch of boats through? That is what they must do now. Backing down to America ain't gonna happen this time.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 12:17:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ottoman Empire Mk II anyone?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 12:35:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not even in the wildest fantasies of the worst Turkish imperialist.

If Turkey makes a serious move towards Suez, or towards further control of the shores of the Black Sea - the only realistic venues for expanding their sphere of influence - they'll come up against at least two major powers and at least one regional power. And even those powers not directly involved would be spooked by any new power that looked like it was expanding near Suez.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 12:57:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think so. The Turks have enough on their plate. Their needs aren't land. They need to continue with their secular advances without letting some Richelieu (or Khomeini) get traction. I submit: They want to be a combination of China and France.

They have a lot of clever people, they have a long history of some very enlightened rulers, mixed with the typical lunacy of a degrading empire. Certainly there are a lot of lessons there. And now, with the chess board all mixed up, they find themselves not weak (well armed and trained, in fact), they are not in horrid debt, they are have a lot of technology, and the choices are few.

Let the anti-secularist movement progress, and become the next Egypt or figure out some balance that lets the religious feel that they are being accommodated for, while the commercial and political people take advantage of their market and resource proximity and comparatively low wages.

Moves like actually backing the flotilla and the clever Iranian nuke move with Brazil and Spain launches them into the expanded-regional good guy category in a low risk fashion, with great internal benefit. And the more the US and Israel rants the better off their position becomes.

Kicked out of NATO? They are so strategically placed that there is no answer to "Who's going to replace them?" Greece? Ukraine? Italy? Macedonia? From their view, what could happen? Hilary will take their billion dollar subsidy away? Trigger the fail-safe device on all the equipment the US gave them for the last decade?

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 02:37:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "next Egypt" is actually a very good question at this time.  With Mubarek sure to die/become incapacitated within the next 2-5 years and no clear succession in Egypt, nevermind all of their internal problems, Egypt won't be the "old Egypt" anymore either.

It can't be overstated how important Egypt's role has been in regards to holding the region back from outright war over the past 30 years.  With the strong liklihood of internal strife and a massive shake-up in Egypt somebody in the region needs to step into that role.

Turkey, it seems, is very well-suited, being strong, big, economically developed and secular in nature.  

In regards to Turkey departing NATO, I think there is a strong movement against NATO in Europe and if one big player takes the step you may well see others rushing to join them in order to be the leader of a new alliance rather than be America's lapdog.  This image of course immediately calls to mind Sarkozy, who could do a large bit in repairing France's credibility with Turkey by forming a post-NATO military alliance with them (thus pushing the EU question back a few more years whilst accelerating integration).

by paving on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 05:36:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
May this be the crisis that ends the Post-World War 2 international system?

Sooner or later Russia is going to - have to? - be institutionally brought into Europe.  How much, through what, and with what is beyond my pay grade.  At which point the entire point of NATO gets problematical.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 05:46:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Easy now.

With Mubarek sure to die/become incapacitated within the next 2-5 years and no clear succession in Egypt, nevermind all of their internal problems, Egypt won't be the "old Egypt" anymore either.

Meh. None of the people likely to succeed Mubarak would change much.

It can't be overstated how important Egypt's role has been in regards to holding the region back from outright war over the past 30 years.

Uh, yes it can. You just did. Egypt would like everyone to believe that (thus justifying its continued receipt of some $2 billion per year in US bribes military and civilian aid), but it's just not true. Jordan has had a greater role in "regional stability" than Egypt, even before it signed its own peace deal with Israel. The only war Egypt has prevented is one involving Egypt. (Which Egypt would have lost, but don't tell them that, they think they won the last one.)

I will note as well that there was an outright war just four years ago, in Lebanon.  I was there.  Many Lebanese believe that Syria's chemical weapons were the main deterrent to the spread of that conflict.  It certainly wasn't Egypt.

With the strong liklihood of internal strife and a massive shake-up in Egypt somebody in the region needs to step into that role.

There is no "strong likelihood of internal strife," and probably little chance of a "massive shake-up."

A political protest that draws 200 people in Cairo, a city of 20 million, is considered a smashing success.  (If you get the Brotherhood involved, which only happens when specific issues are at stake, you might get 2000, big freaking deal.)  The only thing that moves any significant number of people to action is personal economic interest, which is why you see yet another wave of labor actions going on now -- but even those are fairly limited in scope.  If anything, most Egyptians strive to avoid contact with the state, never mind trying to change it.

Egypt jealously guards its alleged "regional leadership" role, and any successor to Mubarak would do the same, but honestly that role has long since eroded. "Regional leadership" (such as it is) has shifted to the Gulf.  Turkey has had a growing role, but there will be no "next Egypt" because there was never really an "old Egypt" in the sense of "holding the region back from outright war." It's propaganda.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 06:44:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To ensure clarity ...

I'm not saying Turkey will get kicked-out of NATO but that they might leave.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 05:36:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkey, France, Syria, whoever could sign bi-lateral or multi-lateral agreements without leaving NATO. In fact, such agreements might be a good way to put pressure on NATO and US "leadership".  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 11:28:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Was Egypt opening its border part of that hush money?

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 12:18:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkey is the southern flank of NATO intended, as I understand the matter to prevent the Soviet Union - yeah, I know - from invading south and grabbing the OPEC oil and threatening their flank so as to prevent the Red Army - yeah, I know - concentrating all their available forces in the Warsaw Pact countries.

Yes, I know.

Currently Turkey is a base to spy Russian communications.  One can learn a lot from "idle" chatter over the air waves.  This is still, as I understand, very important to the US.  

And it's a potential base for US deployment and logistic support for military operations in the 'stans, Levant, and OPEC nations.  The use of Turkish airspace is, I guess, especially important.  (?)

The Turkish military is the second largest in NATO after the US.  It is fully modern, trained, supported, NATO capable force not to be sneezed at.  

The only modern weapon system the Turks lack, as far as I know, is nuclear weapons.  It's possible they could "borrow" some from Pakistan or, perhaps, the PRC if push came to shove.  

Last, if Turkey leaves NATO then the US loses a goodly dollop of control over Turkish foreign policy.

"Losing" Turkey would be a Big Deal.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 01:10:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkey is part of NATO's "nuclear sharing agreement" so within the confines of NATO they do have nuclear weapons.  I imagine that provided they have the fuel available they could also cook their own up at will.
by paving on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 05:30:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks!  It's been so long I forgot that.

IIRC, the standard doctrine is for the US to retain Command and Control until the nukes are released to the Theater Commanders Command but NEVER Control.  The US & etc. keep their toys firmly in their mitts.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 05:35:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe the intent of that sharing agreement is to keep countries that could easily develop nuke's from doing so (and saving the money in the process).  It also implies that without NATO any one of them could become a nuclear power without great effort.
by paving on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 05:38:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Subject to your correction ...

It is my understanding Turkey and Pakistan are BFF and we know Pakistan has nukes so I think it's safe to projection, with a high degree of certainty, if Turkey and Israel start slugging it out Pakistan won't stand by and let Israel blackmail 'em nuclear strategic wise.

H'mmmm.

Just about anyway I play it, Israel's nuclear forces will be countered through our good old friend MAD.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 05:57:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, but Turkey has the ability to really mess with the partial US withdrawal from Iraq strategy, and the partial withdrawal from Iraq is where the troops are coming from for ramping up the lost quagmire in Afghanistan.

So this can boil down to a show-down between the Military-Industrial-Congressional complex and the Likud Lobby.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 02:02:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And may the blood flow like wine!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 05:26:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkey already messed with the US' Iraq invasion strategy in 2003...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 07:05:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yeah ... I'd not expect the point to be well understood if the understanding required imagination only ... the American body politic seems like it can only barely learn from experience as it is.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 11:15:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And there was much disappointment at the generals "shirking their responsibility".
by generic on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 09:11:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NATO would never throw Turkey out, they control their only access to the Black Sea.

I don't know what the arrangements are for allowing warships through the Bosphorus but I bet that turkey could make life difficult if they wanted.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 06:18:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But they did that already in 2008.
After the hostilities in Georgia in August 2008, Turkey prevented the US, its NATO ally, from sending large naval ships into the Black Sea.

Ostensibly, the US wanted to use these ships to transport humanitarian aid to Georgia, even though it was more convenient, and quicker, to bring the aid in by air.  In reality, the US wished to make a show of support for Georgia, in circumstances in which coming to the aid of Georgia militarily had been ruled out.

The Montreaux convention says
However, they impose very severe restrictions on the entry of warships belonging to non-Black Sea states and on how long they can remain in the Black Sea.  Thus, under Article 18(1), a limit of 45,000 tons is imposed on the aggregate tonnage of warships belonging to non-Black Sea states that can be present in the Black Sea at any time.  Out of that 45,000 ton limit, each individual non-Black Sea state is restricted to 30,000 tons.
which covers Russia, but not the U.S.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 06:26:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which only proves my point. I think turkey was very aware of the silly trick the US was trying to pull over goergia and basically saved them from themselves.

By and large, NATO needs Turkey onside if something bad happened.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 06:58:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkey has the capability to force the US to decide between...

the integrity of NATO and the interests of the right wing government in Israel.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 12:25:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Besides all of the political impracticalities, there is the little problem that NATO only really still oblige collective response if a member is attacked in Europe or North America.  And declaring that this particular aggression occurred in Europe would be tantamount to declaring that either the Middle East is part of Europe or that the Middle East is still part of Turkey.  Neither is the kind of liberal discourse anyone opposing Israel on this matter should get into.
by santiago on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 06:02:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Mediterranean is specifically mentioned.
by generic on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 06:08:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you're right.
by santiago on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 11:33:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We've seen attacks on NATO members before. Turkey claims to have been attacked. Turkey has had minor skirmishes with Greece that have ended with soldiers/pilots dying. This isn't exactly unusual for NATO.
by Upstate NY on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 11:48:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those were between NATO members. If a NATO member is attacked by a non-NATO member in the Mediterranean the obligations are much clearer. I don't know if Turkey still has in commission some of the former US heavy cruisers we saw around Cyprus years ago, but it likely has a much more formidable navy than Israel, though without the ability to project air power except from Turkey, which is not that far from Gaza.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 11:36:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm going on the idea that the US is the heavy in NATO, and obviously for the US Israel is untouchable. A kind of defacto NATO satellite.
by Upstate NY on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 01:00:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know that and I know that and every NATO member knows that.

But it may well be one of those things that everybody can know in private but you can't say out loud.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 03:16:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We can only hope that members having their noses rubbed in the fact will be eye opening and might lead to some changes. Turkey does have alternatives and could always sign bi-lateral treaties with other NATO members who are willing. Would any be willing? Turkey has a strategic location and is one of the big four or five in NATO in terms of military power. It will be interesting to see what Ergodan does. May be time to press what advantages he can obtain via legal and diplomatic routes while waiting for other opportunities.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 08:14:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel Holds Hundreds Seized During Raid on Flotilla   NYT

JERUSALEM -- The fallout from Israel's attack on a flotilla trying to breach the blockade of Gaza widened Tuesday amid growing criticism of the raid, which left nine activists dead. Egypt reopened its border with Gaza to allow humanitarian aid to flow through, and activists said they had sent another ship to the area.

More than 600 activists arrested after Monday's raid in international waters remained in custody in southern Israel, although an Israeli police spokesman said that about 45 people were being deported.


I would suspect that Nobel laureates, MEP and other European elected officials will be amongst those deported.

Monday's confrontation at sea strained relations between Israel and the United States just as American-sponsored proximity talks involving Palestinians and Israelis were getting under way.

And Turkish animosity seemed to deepen as Israel announced that four of the nine killed in the military operation aboard the Turkish vessel were Turkish citizens, the Anatolian News Agency reported. In a speech, Turkey's prime minister called on Israel to be punished for the raid. In New York, after protracted wrangling, the United Nations Security Council condemned "acts" leading to the loss of life in the operation by Israeli commandos in international waters on Monday.

The Security Council also urged an impartial inquiry -- a call echoed in a separate forum by Russia and the European Union on Tuesday at a meeting of senior officials in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

For its part, Turkey, once seen as Israel's most important friend in the Muslim world, recalled its ambassador on Monday and canceled planned military exercises with Israel as the countries' already tense relations soured even further. "This irresponsible, heedless, unlawful attitude that defies any human virtue should definitely, but definitely, be punished," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday in his regular weekly address to his party in the capital, Ankara.

"No one should dare to challenge Turkey or test her patience for that the strength of Turkey's animosity is as strong as the value of its friendship."


Methinks Erdogan has found a winning issue in Turkish politics that resonates with his own beliefs and throughout the Islamic world. Israel's actions seem to have been counterproductive if Egypt maintains its open border. Aid from Turkey could flow to Gaza through that border. Israel could only respond by another invasion of Gaza or air-strikes.

"Call your piratical boarding of Turkish ships in international waters and raise you one border opening."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 12:46:07 PM EST
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-to-deport-all-activists-seized-on-gaza-flotilla -1.293634  

Israel to deport all activists seized on Gaza flotilla
All 680 activists will be released, including two dozen Israel had threatened to prosecute on charges of assaulting troops.

Looks like there has been some backroom wheeling and dealing.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 09:39:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.N. Security Council Condemns `Acts' in Israeli Raid   NYT

UNITED NATIONS -- After hours of negotiations, the United Nations Security Council early on Tuesday condemned "acts" resulting in the deaths of nine civilians in Israel's attack on an aid flotilla trying to breach the Gaza blockade.

In a formal statement that seemed less forceful than what had been demanded by the Palestinians, Arab nations and Turkey, the council also demanded an impartial investigation into the confrontation.

The statement urged that aid ships seized in the raid on Monday be released along with civilians held by Israel.

"The Security Council deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force during the Israeli military operation in international waters against the convoy sailing to Gaza," the statement said, adding that the 15-member body "in this context, condemns those acts which resulted in the loss" of lives.

Perhaps not all that Turkey and the Arab states would have liked but surely more than the US or Israel would have liked. The US did not veto this resolution.

"The Security Council requests the immediate release of the ships as well as the civilians held by Israel," the United Nations statement said, calling for "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards."

It also said the situation in Gaza, under blockade by Israel, was "not sustainable" and called for a "sustained and regular flow of goods and people to Gaza, as well as unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza."

We will see what agreements are reached on investigations. A possible compromise on humanitarian aid would be for it to flow to Gaza through Egypt under a UN monitor with an Israeli observer.

While condemnation of Israel in the Security Council is not uncommon, the criticism at the emergency session called by Turkey and Lebanon was notable for both its vehemence and for the broad array of countries demanding an independent investigation into the decision to fire on civilians in what they described as a humanitarian mission.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, whose country's once close relations with Israel have deteriorated markedly since Israel's invasion of Gaza in 2009, called the attack "tantamount to banditry and piracy; it is murder conducted by a state."

Noting that the ships were carrying items such as a playground equipment, cancer medicine and milk powder, he said that given the history of the Jews the Israelis should be more conscious than others of "the dangers and inhumanity of ghettoes as the one we currently witness in occupied Gaza."

Gerard Araud, the French ambassador, said the death toll indicated "there was disproportionate use of force and a level of violence which nothing justifies and which we condemn."

Nawaf Salam, the Lebanese ambassador, said even the laws of war require the delivery of humanitarian aid.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 01:02:24 PM EST
I am surprised the US didn't veto.  

The Resolution doesn't require any action so the US wasn't forced into a bind?


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 01:13:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... getting into a slanging match with Turkey over this.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 02:03:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's to veto? It's a press release. Ms Rice's staff supposed to be composing a story, a defining "statement" of the conflict, for purposes of actionable Council resolution. Let's assume all the ET readers have actually read the statement. Or not. Less said about it and 70 casualties the better.

The suggestion is that US condemnation of Israel would further isolate that country, and make further peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians even more difficult.

eh? Diplomacy fanboys, how come TURKEY isn't a named party to de parlez?

The senior administration official says that President Obama spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three times on Monday. Mr. Obama pushed the notion that last night - as the United Nations Security Council met to issue a statement about the incident - was the moment when the US had maximum leverage, that the longer the statement was being debated the worse it would ultimately be for Israel.

Ultimately, as the statement was negotiated over night, the US succeeded in making it more neutral where other nations wanted it to criticize and condemn Israel. Read more...



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 03:36:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am surprised the US didn't veto.  
The Resolution doesn't require any action so the US wasn't forced into a bind?

that plus "...in this context, condemns those acts which resulted in the loss" of lives doesn't mean what we think it means.

From the viewpoint of the Israelis and US, "those acts" that are being condemned are the acts of the Turks forcing this issue.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 03:38:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, "an impartial investigation" presumably means "not run by turkey". A whitewash is in the cards.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 07:03:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
TAPPER:  And there were Americans on the flotilla.  Has there been any -- do you have any information about whether any of them were hurt?  There was an unconfirmed report that an American student lost an eye in the incident.  Do you know anything?

GIBBS:  I -- I think we're in contact with the Israelis in order to get an accounting as to whether any Americans citizens -- well obviously American citizens were -- acting as private citizens -- were -- were on some of these ships. We're working with the Israelis to determine if any of those individuals were injured, and, as the resolution says, would call on the Israelis to release both the ships and any of those people.

uhhhh baduh baduh uhhh

TAPPER:  Is the president concerned at all that after all his work to repair relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world that a situation like this destroys overnight?

GIBBS:  The U.S. relationship with the Muslim...

TAPPER:  U.S. Relationship with the Muslim world, by standing so steadfastly with Israel?

GIBBS:  No.  Again, I -- again, I would point you to I think it was a pretty clear statement by the international community that the United States...

TAPPER:  I wouldn't call it that.  I mean, it condemns acts that were taken that led to the loss of life, but it doesn't say whose acts.  It could have been the flotilla's acts or it could have been the IDF's acts.  It's not clear from that statement.

GIBBS:  Well, I think our opinion is this is a pretty clear statement and obviously...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER:  ... whose acts are you talking about in that statement?  Is it the IDF or is it...

GIBBS:  Again, we're talking about a series of facts that will be determined by an appropriate investigation, as I just said.

TAPPER:  OK.  So there's no specificity as to whose acts it's condemning?

GIBBS:  Well, it may be of information as to exactly how this went down that the rest of the international community may not be completely clear on, Jake.  But, again, I'm saying -- and let me...

Read more...



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 08:24:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was hoping that I was wrong. But it seems pretty clear from what little direct-from-the-states news that there is a power block of people who will cut Obama off at the ankles if he doesn't dither on this.

So, a cloud of dither and no veto is the gift. On suspects that Bush would have vetoed.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 02:44:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...a power block of people who will cut Obama off at the ankles...

That would seriously mess with his jump shot, dude.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 11:39:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then why do they dither?

After being Twank prompted, I listened to some Democracy Now...Hilary was dancing so amazingly well, worse than I could have believed possible in the face of reporters actually asking the right questions.

''...actions leading up to the attacks" is their operative phrase. They condemn nothing else.

I am being moved from Hope. Sad.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 05:59:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Biden's statement on this is pretty unequivocal : Israel now and forever.

Turkey is gonna be isolated on this unless they suddenly wanna go rabble-rousing the middle East; which will get them precisely nowhere. I think they'll stfu in a couple of weeks frankly as reality collides.

I see this disappearing from the Western media in 3-2-1... in the next couple of days. I wouldn't suggest any 20 something blond girls visit Aruba for a bit.

As for the rest of the world, cheney's epithet applies

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 06:32:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I noticed this in Likud's press release Biden's statement;

Joe Biden: Well, an investigation run by the Israelis, but we're open to international participation, just like the investigation run on the sunken sub in -- off the coast of Korea. That was run by South Korea, but the international community joined in that investigation.

It is consistent with his Likud-like that the ships, which were in international waters, were the aggressor party, entitling Israel to claim self-defence. By that logic though, South korea would have had to havesunk the N Korean submarine.

Or, if you look at who attacked whom,Turkey, as the injured party, should be running the investigation.

Or his statement is just complete insulting bollocks from a US Govt desperate to find a fig leaf to hide Israel behind. I suspect this more than anything else.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 07:05:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Everything I read here about Turkey Israel spat over gaza was interesting but I would like to note that we are at its very early stage. If this conflict escalates into something serious it will take time, at least weeks, maybe months. So we need to emphasize that most versions presented here are highly hypothetical.

I agree that Turkey was very important ally of US and won't tolerate usual handling of "Muslim allies" at the hands of Western Powers which treat them second rate, Israel always first rate.

Another possibility which we may speculate about is "regime change" in Turkey, what if US will instigate military takeover in Ankara? How EU and NATO will react to coup?

by FarEasterner on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 01:26:39 PM EST
I sincerely hope the US doesn't try "regime change" in Ankara.  That course of action would be foolish at the outer bounds of foolishness.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 01:33:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Likely explosive. The only plausible candidates are the now discredited "secularist" generals and colonels.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 05:30:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A few years ago, something like this was the subject of a best-selling novel in Turkey.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 05:46:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who said anything about "trying?"

Turkey already has Ergenekon.

It's not like the USA would have to do much to apply pressure.

by Upstate NY on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 11:58:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be a catastrophe of the highest order.  The US can't pull-off "regime change" on a country as large, complex and stable as Turkey.
by paving on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 05:47:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure it could.

Turkey has so many many pressure points.

All around it.

Greece, Cyprus, the Kurds, even Syria.

by Upstate NY on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 11:59:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You see how our half-assed work in Iraq is going?  
by paving on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 12:21:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkey has had one coup over another over the years.
by Upstate NY on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 12:27:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a significant difference between tossing your own governments (the military in Turkey is more popular anyway) and having the Empire meddling in your business.  I see no evidence that the US is capable of engineering a proper coup in the present era, look at the mess in Honduras.  Turkey is a universe more challenging.
by paving on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 02:58:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm of course referring to the Turkish military. It's coups have had tacit US support, and it's been only recently that the USA and EU have applied pressure on Turkey to prevent the military from having political interference.
by Upstate NY on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 09:11:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the noises we're hearing from Turkey is that the military is entirely on board with Erdogan on this issue.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 02:31:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, on this issue.

All I'm saying is that if the USA applies certain pressure points to Turkey, the generals will see an opening.

by Upstate NY on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 06:58:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does that mean the government of Turkey counters by ramping up the threat of war?

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 08:00:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think Erdogan gets himself into that kind of mess where he has to back down and lose face.
by Upstate NY on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 11:04:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, Erdogan has offered to forget the whole thing (more or less), provided Israel lifts the Gaza siege.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 12:06:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Today's Süddeutsche has an article about the murder of Luigi Padovese in which they mention in passing some plans that were uncovered this year of a plot to murder Christians, pin the blame on Islamists, and use this as an excuse for a military coup. Does anybody know anything about this? Is is just fantasy, or is there anything to it?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 04:36:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Haaretz: Israel: We will not apologize to Turkey over Gaza flotilla deaths
A top official in the Foreign Ministry, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the Turkish demand for an official apology was mainly an excuse to allow Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's to cut diplomatic ties with Israel.

The foreign ministry officials said that they were surprised by the request for an apology which came from Turkey's Ambassador to Washington Namik Tan, as the demand was not relayed through any other diplomatic channels.

Tan, who was Turkey's ambassador to Israel before his U.S. appointment, was known to be a supporter of Israel, the officials said.



By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 5th, 2010 at 06:16:16 PM EST


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