Brain Bush’s Blog

Turkish Israeli Relations

  • By : Brian Bush
  • September 9, 2011
  • 10:20 am

Hi Everyone,

Much of the media chatter here in the Middle East continues on the crisis with Israel-Turkey relations. Some Arab political analysts believe that the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to be commended for 'standing up' to Israel, others say he's delusional.

Obviously for some, he is playing up the 'anti-Israel card' that still works well amongst some in the Arab world, while others are more understanding and ask what is he is trying to achieve?

Mr. Erdogan's positions do seem to raise questions of what exactly is he thinking of…

The Turkish Government has linked the lifting of the maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel to an apology from Israel and compensation for the Marmara incident in which nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli soldiers.

One thing that has been noted is that whichever end of the Middle East one sits, the populist thinks of itself as Muslim first. This is where Erdogan 'wins' when he raises tense public statements against Israel.

Domestically, it serves his interests among the members of Erdogan's Islamist government and affects his status abroad in the Arab and Islamic world.

For Turks, who ruled this region for four centuries only 75 years ago, this is important as they seek to assume a position of leadership in the Arab-Sunni world.

Thus the Turkish Prime Minister ordered the severing of military and commercial ties with Israel and the Israeli Stock exchange reacted with sharp declines – Erdogan then is cheered.

Then Turkey announces it is forming a strategic military alliance with Egypt – Erdogan then is hailed.

And yesterday Turkey said it is increasing its naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean sailing opposite Israel, from Cyprus and Greece, and will send Turkish warships to accompany any future flotillas to Gaza – Erdogan then is applauded.

Israel is not the only responsible party in the development of the crisis with Turkey. It can be said that Turkey also has a degree of responsibility.

But what motivates Erdogan? It seems the Turkish Prime Minister has Turkish national interests in mind.

What is needed right now? Effective professional and quiet diplomatic efforts to search out and find the right formula of diplomatic language that will allow both sides to back off.

True – America has been trying to do this since the incident took place in May – but to no avail – and this makes Turkey look even better.

Going into the weekend, what both Israel and Turkey are each trying to understand is what each gains if they lose each other.

Brian Bush
Middle East Correspondent
LeSEA Broadcasting

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