In one of recent history’s supreme ironies, it took the superheated civil war in Syria to blunt Iran’s grab of Mideast dominance, threatening to form an anti-Western alliance that could have put Tehran in charge of global oil prices, as well as destabilizing Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and ousting U.S. influence from the region.
The simultaneous restoration of close economic, as well as military ties between Jerusalem and Ankara, is reestablishing a Gordian knot between the area’s only two Democratic, technologically advanced and economically dynamic nations in the world’s most volatile arena. Since the breakdown of Turko-Israel’s relations in 2010 over Israel’s military action against a Turkish ship attempting to breach Jerusalem’s Gaza blockage, the animosity emerging seemed complete and even militarily threatening.
The swiftness with which a telephonic apology from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Turkey’s Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan seemed to resolve this festering diplomatic issue, emphasized the realization of both leaders in viewing the dramatic regional disintegration in the wake of the removal of autocratic leadership from the Arab Middle East. This is true as well of the Arabs’ North African littoral, including Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria.
It also indicates that Erdogan’s original 2010 embrace of Tehran and Damascus was done in a fit of pique against Netanyahu’s Israel, bringing to a close the strong military alliance between the two most advanced econo-politico-technological republics in this most incendiary and critical world region.
But what the post-2010 evolving Turko-Syrian-Iran alliance overlooked was that economic ties between the two estranged nations, Turkey and Israel, hardly wavered, with import-exports maintaining their previous intensity. In fact, the recent upgrading of the Turkish air force by Israel’s advanced capability was never mentioned in the media, as both countries cloaked the ongoing relationship, so as not to undermine their mutual benefits.
It may be coincidental, but the recent bi-national rapprochement with Israel coincided with the Turkish pardon of a jailed Kurdish terrorist, who called for Turkey’s Kurd population, comprising 15% of that nation’s 80 million, to take their grievances into the political arena. Erdogan, a confirmed Islamist is, however, a rational world leader, who has presided over Turkey’s rise as an important global economic factor.
The Sunni-Shiite friction that has turned the Mideast firestorm into a war of supremacy between the two historical branches of Islam, are also proving a danger to Turkey’s increasing relevance as an international politico-military-economic power. This could eventually bring the threat of the extremist Moslem Brotherhood against a nation which owes its modernism to its secularist founder, Kemal Attaturk, after its post World War I revival.
If this new scenario, still in its early stages, plays out as hoped, the previously waning civilized Mideast power balance will have turned on a dime, with U.S., Turkey, Israel, along with minor powers Jordan and potentially Lebanon the beneficiaries.
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