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U.S. Should Pressure Turkey on Israel

Frayed relations could perhaps be restored with appeal to interests, Syria

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Prime Minister Erdogan and President Obama last September.(Allan Tannenbaum-Pool/Getty Images)

Tensions in the Israel-Turkey relationship are now leaving at least one Israeli defense firm in a tricky position with Boeing, the U.S. defense giant. It’s just the latest example of how the unraveling of what was once a strong alliance—for much of the past few decades, Turkey was Israel’s closest friend in the Muslim world—has harmed Israeli interests, particularly as the United States has continued to experience a strong relationship with Turkey (in part, ironically enough, over shared interest in checking Iran).

The complicating factor here is that while you could certainly point to instances in which Israel has gone out its way to antagonize Turkey (ahem), the deterioration of the relationship is primarily the doing of Turkey and its hugely popular leader, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Going back to the 2010 flotilla, and perhaps before, and all the way up to the present—this week, Erdogan called the Israeli response to rockets from Gaza “state terror,” “massacre and bloodshed”—Erdogan has viciously demagogued on Israel.

Dexter Filkins published a long article recently in The New Yorker on the growth of Turkey under Erdogan’s moderately Islamist Justice and Development Party. There is much on Ergenekon, Turkey’s rumored, heavily military “deep state,” and the ways in which Erdogan and his allies have used fears of it and prosecutions related to it to solidify their hold on power; it quotes at length Gareth Jenkins, who wrote about the so-called Sledgehammer prosecution for Tablet Magazine. Turkey jails journalists. And so on.

What’s called for is a good deal of private U.S. pressure. Turkey shares a very long border with Syria, whose implosion has strained its relations with Iran as well. It needs powerful friends right now. It is in the U.S. interest if Turkey is more on the same page with the other main U.S. ally that borders Syria, Israel. Filkins’ piece makes clear that while Erdogan is a deeply unappealing, Putin-esque leader, he and his Foreign Minister, the Kissinger-esque Ahmet Davutoglu, are creatures of realism.

President Obama has reportedly cozied up, personally, to Erdogan. That’s not an inherently damning thing—not if it moderates Turkey and eases tensions with Israel. But that’s what needs to start happening then.

Strained Ties With Turkey Hurt Israeli Defense Contract with U.S. Firm [Haaretz]
Turkey’s Erdogan: Israel Must Stop ‘Massacre of Palestinians in Gaza [Haaretz]
Turkey Struggles in the Role of Mideast Power During Syria Crisis [LAT]
Related: The Deep State [New Yorker]
Sledgehammer [Tablet Magazine]

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Davyd says:

At this time, the responsibility to repair Turkish ties rests squarely with Israel. The Netanyahu administration has done everything in it’s power to antagonize, humiliate, and insult what should be it’s strongest regional alley. How can you call out Erdogan for his comments when Avigdor Lieberman spouts his hateful rhetoric and you say nothing? The Netanyahu administration is destroying the soul and fabric of Israel and this is sadly only one of the ways in which it is doing it.

PINAR says:

Turkey will look after Turkey’s interest and Turkey’s national security. Turkey will not be a puppet to Israel. Israel massacred 9 innocent turkish peacekeepers on their way to deliver food to starving Gaza. We Turks will go back to dealing with Israel once israel hands over 9000 Jews for us to kill like it killed 9 innocent Turks in cold blood. Do not mistake us Turks for Arabs.
1000 Israelis are not worth the life of 1 Turk. We do not forget or forgive those that massacre innocent Turks in cold blood

John 1947 says:

The US should mind its own business. Turkey is a sovereign state and knows what is in its own best interest. If Israel feels enough pain it may modify its behavior. The US should stop enabling and protecting Israel from the consequences of its actions.

MethanP says:

You still make the liberal mistake of believing that Obama (and his administration) have Israeli/Jewish interests at heart. Study his background, it’s quite public. Study the backgrounds of most of his advisors, including the Jewish ones. They are not our friends. And they certainly never, ever, risk a second term for the sake of Israeli survival. And a PS: Obama has resisted every serious effort to stop Iran. He fought the sanctions tooth and nail and only accepted when forced by Congressional resolution.

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

The US could and would pressure Turkey, but would Mr. Obama…??

Perhaps the following should give us a clue:

PINAR says:

As the only democratic country in the middle east, Erdogan answers to us turkish voters. 80 million turks wants turkey to nuke Israel, the evil cancer of the middle east. All those that think US can pressure need to visit Turkey to see what a real democratic country looks like. Obama needs to stop all aid to evil murderous Israel that gets a pleasure out of blowing up the brains of sleeping palestinians children. you jews are so evil, hitler saw the true evil nature of you jews. A world controlled by Jews would be a world of consact evil wars and terror intigated by you jews. The only way to bring peace to middle east is to nuke israel and get rid you cancerous israel


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U.S. Should Pressure Turkey on Israel

Frayed relations could perhaps be restored with appeal to interests, Syria

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