Random Thoughts On The Turkish-Israeli Entente

The Turkish-Israeli Entente was in dire straits after Operation Cast Lead. Today it is dead. (It’s not a formal alliance, nor was it ever, it was a confluence of interests leading to a temporary understanding and alignment of acitons. The key benefit to Turkey was Israeli pressure on Syria in regards the Kurds in the late 90s. The key benefit to Israel was a friend in the Muslim Middle-East.)

Appended are some random thoughts of consequences for the Turks and Israelis:

The Israelis need Turkish airspace to train flying over rugged mountainous terrain (think Iran and the Zagros). The Turks had prevented them from training in Turkish airspace after Operation Cast Lead. This will be the final nail in the coffin for Israeli airforce training in Turkey. No surprise, also, that the Israelis have deployed a nuclear armed sub in the Persian Gulf.

The Israelis sold a lot of high-tech weaponry to the Turks as well. The Turks were a sizable market for Israel generally, as well. Some of this might continue.

But this attack really puts the Turkish generals in a box. They had been the faction largely driving the Entente. And now the AKP can continue to implement its soft-shoe version of Islamism in Turkey–as the secularists don’t have an ultimate trump card in the military. This has long been a project of the AKP, to chip away at the strength of the generals.

Turkey will probably draw closer to Syria–after all it doesn’t need Israel to pressure Syria to kick out the Kurds as it did back in the late 90s. This benefits Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah. I’d also say much of this is largely a consequence of our invasion of Iraq, too.

This also really complicates our relationship with Turkey. And ‘complicates’ is really an understatement. As Ian writes:

Does Israel want a war with Turkey? They can’t win it, short of using nukes, and Turkey is a NATO member, if Israel attacks NATO ships, Turkey can invoke Article V (in fact, they can invoke it already, since the ships were attacked by a non NATO power on the high seas.) If Turkey does so, of course NATO nations will refuse, but doing so will break NATO.

So, in this action Israel has done the following: put America and NATO in a very difficult place. It’s emboldened the Islamists in Turkey and weakened the generals in Ankara. It has also forced Turkey closer to Syria.

Quite the strategic win for the Israeli strategic genius, ain’t it?

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Sean Paul Kelley

Traveler of the (real) Silk Road, scholar and historian, photographer and writer - founder of The Agonist.

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  • “The Israel Defense Forces had little trouble explaining the naval commando raid yesterday to the Israeli public. The troops slid from helicopters into a violent crowd, which attacked them with sticks. It’s no wonder the troops opened fire in self-defense.” Haaretz, June 1

    “It’s no wonder…” How sorry it is that the supposed voice of reason in the Israeli press, Haaretz, adopts this type of logic. Had the ship not been boarded, there would have been no need for “self defense.. It’s reasonable to assume that the people on board were terrified. They certainly weren’t beckoning the Israeli commandos to board the ship for a fight.

    Here is the question. Balance the minor gain of boarding the ship headed for Gaza versus the risks of losing the most productive relationship Israel can have in its neighborhood, as you called it, the entente with Turkey. It’s an easy choice but apparently not for the current Israeli government.

    Israel has lost an important relationship and it has complicated the U.S. position. How? The administration offered a tepid response that equalized the two sides, thus offending Turkey.

    Petraeus was right. Israel is a danger to U.S. policy (of course, I don’t agree with Petraeus’ policy aims but, nevertheless, he’s right).

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