Monday, January 03, 2011

Wikileaks: The beginning of Turkey's change

From a Wikileaks cable dated October 13, 2009:

Turkey understands and partially shares U.S. and international concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions, but is hesitant to use harsh language in public statements, in part due to its dependence on Iran as an energy supplier and as a trade route to Central Asian markets. PM Erdogan himself is a particularly vocal skeptic of the U.S. position. Turkey believes international pressure against Iran only helps to strengthen Ahmadinejad and the hard-liners. However, it continues to press Iran quietly to accept the P5 plus 1 offer. The GOT is a strong partner in our non-proliferation efforts, with several significant results. Politically,Turkey will try to position itself on Iran between wherever we are and where Russia is. In a pinch or if pressed, the Turks will slant to us.

While the Foreign Ministry and the Turkish General Staff agree with us that a strong Turkey-Israel relationship is essential for regional stability, PM Erdogan has sought to shore up his domestic right political flank at the expense of this relationship. His outburst at Davos was the first in a series of events the results of which we and his staff have sought to contain. The latest of these was Exercise Anatolian Eagle. Erdogan canceled Israel's participation hours before the exercise was to begin. With an Israeli strike - across Turkish airspace - against targets in Iran a possibility, Erdogan decided he could not afford the political risk of being accused of training the forces which would carry out such a raid. Through some remarkable work with Allies and with the inter-agency, we engineered a public "postponement" of the international portion of the exercise, but the relationship has begun to sour.
At the time, the State Department seemed to regard Erdogan's anti-Israel stance as more political than strategic, and that his opinions were not in concert with his foreign ministry and general staff.

It would be interesting to know if the State Department still believes this.