Friday, January 30, 2009

Cracks in the Pro-Israel Alliance

At Davos, Erdogan evidently became fed up with the pro-Israeli bias of the global elite and voiced his outrage in undiplomatic terms. Killing babies from jets is one thing, but speaking rudely at an elite meeting. Shocking!

However, before concluding that Turkey, which is offering itself as a "neutral" mediator between Hamas and Israel, is about to break its close ties with Israel, it is worth considering the nature of Turkey's self-professed neutrality.

  • Last I heard, Turkey recognizes Israel but not the rule of Hamas, which won that only democratic election Palestine has ever had (January 2006).
  • Turkey has long maintained close military ties with Israel, which--last I heard--it has not abrogated since Israel's attack on Gaza. If anyone has evidence that Turkey has similarly close military ties to Hamas, please send me the evidence!

These points just go to show how extraordinarily biased the world is on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

It is clear that the barbarity of Israel's attack has shaken up the frozen heights of Mideast diplomacy, but it will take a lot more than the righteous indignation of Erdogan to reshape Mideast alliances. After all, he is just a politician in a country that has an enormously powerful (in the political sense) military that is both conservative and, shall we say, not averse to using its arms against ethnic minorities.

Stay tuned. This story is just beginning.

Indicators of Movement in Israeli-Turkish Relations to Watch:
  1. Interactions between Hamas and Turkish officials. The Turkish government took the politically courageous step of inviting Hamas to visit in 2006, and Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan recently called Hamas "a reality" and called on it to choose politics over arms, a step Hamas officials have in the past few days indicated they were prepared to do, though certainly only the context of an end to Israeli pressure.
  2. Turkish-Iranian ties. Turkish-Iranian trade is already rising rapidly, and a huge Turkish trade delegation plans to visit Iran soon. Iran welcomed Erdogan's Davos remarks.
  3. Turkish-Israeli military ties. Turkey is planning to take delivery of Israeli-made military drones in the near future.

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