Monday, October 19, 2009

The Turkish Syndrome : Appeasement at its Worst.


by Raphael Israeli


We have become accustomed at  being outrageously bashed by countries whose standards of international behavior  leave much to be desired, when the same matters concern them, they cynically and hypocritically  absolve themselves but criticize Israel as if she were an international outlaw. We are not talking about  Arab and Muslim countries, from whom no one expects correct standards of conduct, but about some of the closest friends of Israel like the US, Britain and lately Turkey :  On the same day that  the US (erroneously) murdered 40 civilians in a wedding ceremony in Western Iraq, it had the nerve to attack Israel for defending its life in Rafah and even let a Security Council resolution pass which harshly criticized Israel for the destruction of houses which sheltered terrorists. Apparently, the destruction of real estate has become more condemnable that the loss of life. And official Israel  swallowed  the outrage and said nothing.


Prior that, it was Foreign Secretary  Jack Straw of Britain, who as Home Secretary had let thousands of terrorists take shelter in his country, and now as a member of the government which has eliminated hundreds of innocent civilians in Iraq, that had never remotely threatened the security of his country,  came out harshly against Israel who had dared to defend itself against armed terrorists who threaten her, day-in-day-out on her very border. America and Britain, who have been seeking, arresting, incarcerating, trying and eliminating leaders of terror, are reproaching  Israel  for acting  similarly, when eliminating heads of terror, in what Israel persist to call "targeted assassination" implying a criminal offense, while their destruction of entire villages in search for Bin Laden and his likes, and their (non-targeted) murder of hundreds of innocent people in Afghanistan and Iraq, goes down as a "collateral damage", not worth mentioning. Again, Israel appeases and keeps quiet in the face of this outrage.


And now it is the turn of Turkey to bash Israel for its "mistreatment" of the Palestinians and for behaving like a "terrorist state" because of the  Rafah  events, which involved the killing of  "innocent civilians" and the destruction of their houses. That those innocents were armed or that their houses served as bases  of terror, or that it was the Palestinians who declared the Intifadah, is of no consequence to the Turkish government, who have demolished hundreds of Kurdish villages, deprived the Kurdish people of their freedom for a hundred years and eliminated thousands of them brutally, not to speak of the Armenian genocide which remains as  a stain on their national conscience, and which they continue to deny instead of repenting, paying indemnities and  beg for forgiveness. They have even threatened to recall their Ambassador from Israel, as if his presence here were a favor and grace.


Israelis should be aware that the Turkish alliance with Israel is not iron-clad. Its revival in the 1990's, after decades of cold shoulder relations, was prompted by  a rare convergence of strategic and economic interests, that were bolstered by the generous assistance that Israel  poured on the most hard-hit areas of Turkey during the 1999 earthquake. But Turkey is a Muslim country, in spite of its commitment to maintain secular rule. No one could foresee the rise to power of Necmettin Erbakan precisely in those years of the summit in the honeymoon, but no one could forget either, that the army swiftly removed him  and banned his party when he  imprudently came too close to Iran. The army, who remained the arbiter of the correct behavior of the government, could by the same token threaten Syria with invasion and war if the latter did not desist from its support to Kurdish Turks.


The Islamic movement took a new name, and under Erdogan it won a sweeping majority, giving it a command of the government, the Parliament and the country, an indication of the depth of Islamization there, in spite of the illusory mitigations that we hear from all sorts of experts who assure us of the tenacity of the alliance between Turkey and Israel. For starters, the new government did what President Ozal would not have dared to do a decade earlier, when Turkey was a main base of attack against Iraq in 1991, when it refused American troops the opening of a second front during the 2003 war, something that shocked the Americans and forced them to revise their war plans and to alter their schemes.  They could not break with Israel by the same breath, because the army prevailed on them and threatened them that their fate might be similar to Erbakan's if they went too far and trashed the strategic collaboration with Israel. But they also understood that they could not interfere brutally with Erdogan who was elected in such a landslide, as long as he swore allegiance to the West-NATO-EU and he maintained the close relationship with Israel.


But now Erdogan is getting stronger, well-established and unchallengeable. IN a few years, after a new command is constituted of newly nominated officers loyal to the Islamic regime, the time will come when the Islamic Party under its new garb, will be able to dare a foreign policy independent of the military. And although for the moment economic and strategic interests are still serving as a glue in maintaining the ambiance of alliance and cooperation, the warnings are ominous when a country that threatened to invade Syria in the past is attempting to mend fences with it, dubs Israel, its "close ally" a  "terrorist state", elects to see Yassin ravage Israel with terrorism than to see him go, openly and blindly takes the Palestinian side in any conflict with Israel, and has been frantically busy to improve relations with the Arab and Islamic world. The Islamization of Turkey will be pursued, not blocked, under the Islamists, not only under pressure of the populace, but mainly because Islamization has been part of the political platform of  that party. Appeasing Turkish rulers, by passively absorbing their bashing in silence, will not alter their growing hostility anymore than the same passivity has served Israel's relations with the US and Britain.


Raphael Israeli

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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