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Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey wants return to Ottoman-era influence - and no Israel (Ma'ariv)

Iranian-style rhetoric from Turkey, from Ma'ariv, translated by Coteret via Islamo-nazism blog:
Turkey – “Israel will not be able to remain over time an independent country, and a bi-national state will be established on all of the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River in which Jews and Palestinians will live,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a number of meetings that he held with journalists and academics, including a number of Israeli academics. Davutoglu’s vision, which he revisited a number of times, is for Turkey to become a dominant force in the Middle East and further, that it will be the protector state of the above-cited bi-national state within a number of years.

Davutoglu, a professor of international relations, is considered to be the principal ideologue of the AKP, the party that is headed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the course of the meetings with academics and journalists, which were held prior to the eruption of the recent crisis between Turkey and Israel in the aftermath of the flotilla to the Gaza Strip and the killing of nine Turkish nationals on board the Mavi Marmara, Davutoglu said he did not believe that Israel would be able to sign peace agreements with its neighbors, including the state that is to be formed in the area of the Palestinian Authority.

The central idea that was put forward by Davutoglu, which he has been trying to promote by means of a number of journalists and Turkish government officials, is that Israel as an independent state is illegitimate in the region and, as such, is destined to disappear. That assessment is rooted in a deeper ideology that aspires to restore to Turkey the historic influence it wielded during the era of the Ottoman empire, which ruled the Middle East for close to 400 years. Davutoglu said on a number of occasions that he believed that peace would be restored to the Middle East only in the wake of deep and substantial Turkish intervention.

In other words, Davutoglu and Erdogan aspire to set a new regional order — Erdogan by means of populist rhetoric and closer ties with Turkey’s neighbors, Syria and Iran; Davutoglu by means of promulgating the ideological basis. This new order, as noted, has no room for Israel as an independent state. Both Erdogan and Davutoglu have been advancing a policy that promotes closer ties with Syria and Iran, and moves away from the West. Davutoglu added in his meetings with the journalists and academics that the historic [colonial] powers, (Britain and France) which conquered the Middle East from the Ottomans, are the ones that are responsible for the difficult situation that currently reigns in the Middle East, since they drew the borders in a way that suited their own political and military interests, without taking into account the demographic affiliation of the region’s residents.
Sounds like an ideal candidate for the EU, doesn't it?

Iran and Turkey are now jockeying to become the major players in the Middle East because they perceive the weakness and fragmentation of the Arab world and the perceived reticence of the US to throw its weight around in that region outside of pressuring Israel. Iran's ambition is actually greater than Turkey's, as it seeks nothing less than world domination based on Islam, but both of them are trying to take advantage of a vacuum of power in the Middle East.

Maybe Israel should enter that vacuum as well.

After all, Iran's rush to become a nuclear power is not necessarily to use it against Israel immediately - it is to cow the Muslim nations into its orbit, as they lose faith that the US would protect them. Iran sees nuclear weapons, and long-range missiles that can hit most of Europe, as its ticket to being a superpower. Turkey longs for a return to the regional influence it used to have and any alliance with Syria and Iran strengthens its position against more moderate Arab states. Fear is a powerful factor in diplomacy.

Israel already is a nuclear power and has a very good army. We already see that Arab states, especially in the Gulf, are more concerned with Iran than with Israel.

What would happen if Israel offered to protect Gulf states from any Iranian aggression?

Instantly, by the logic of the Turks and Iran, Israel would become a regional superpower. Notwithstanding their rhetoric about Jewish expansionism, Israel has been happy to keep things local unless it is threatened from afar. A move like that would make Turkey and Iran think twice before writing Israel off.

And if Israel would threaten to show some Muslim-style diplomatic muscle, the US might be persuaded to properly take its role as the world's real superpower - something that it needs to do a lot more publicly in the Middle East. Behind-the-scenes maneuvering does not engender respect from Arabs. If stability is what is desired, only the US can achieve that - and it requires acting like a leader.