Tag Archives: Turkey

Publicly, #Erdogan leaves little doubt about his expansionist ambitions

26 Oct

Turkey is an important country, both to Iran and Israel.

Until now, numerous people had accused President Erdogan of having expansionist ambitions. These days, president Erdogan is publicly validating these accusations.

According to an article entitled “Erdogan Says Current Borders Imposed on Turkey, Infuriating Neighbors” published on the 23rd of October in the Turkey Times:

Earlier in the week, he (Erdogan) cited 1920-dated Ottoman National Pact or Oath, which designated the latest shape of borders that include today’s Mosul, Kirkuk and Aleppo. With 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, Turkey conceded to loss of many territories cited in National Pact (Misak-i Milli), and agreed to relinquish control of Mosul to the UK in 1926 in Ankara Agreement that settled last territorial dispute between Great Powers, or the UK, and the young republic. (I emboldened important parts of the statement)

In the clip below, Erdogan reiterates his belief publicly that Turkey’s current borders were imposed on it, and more. Read the subtitles in English.

For now Israel has less to worry about Erdogan’s regional ideas and beliefs, but the government of Iraq, Syria and Iran would have genuine concerns. As for Putin’s reaction? Difficult to predict, yet very important. Time will tell.

Israel – Turkey: Something is up

23 Dec

First there was the news that after five years, Turkey has allowed EL AL to fly to Turkey again.

And now there is news that Erdogan’s government is:

being more flexible over Israeli compensation for the victims of an Israel Defense Forces raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla over three years ago, offering to accept a lower figure than it had demanded in the past, a senior Israeli official said Sunday.

So whats going on? Whats causing this?

Here are the top four reasons which I believe are creating this change in Turkey’s attitude:

4. Continued pressure from the Americans for the two sides to repair relations. After all, it was Obama who mediated between the Erdogan and Netanyahau, leading to Netanyahu’s apology to the Turks.

3. Erdogan is losing influence in the region, therefore his previous anti- Israel stance is losing its luster. Since Morsi is no longer in power,Erdogan has lost Egypt. Turkey’s ambassador was expelled by Al Sisi’s regime.

2. Increasing shared interest with Israel over events in Syria.

1. Israeli gas. Russia supplies 57% of Turkey’s gas supplies. After watching recent events in Ukraine and how Russia is pressuring the government there (again), the Turks are probably looking to diversify the source of their gas imports. Israel’s newly discovered gas fields could provide the answer. Gas seems to be providing the state of Israel with new geopolitical leverage in the region.

On Syria, Putin validates pessimism

20 Sep

As I mentioned five days ago, I am not optimistic about the Russian sponsored deal regarding Syria’s chemical weapons. I have great doubts that Assad will actually live up to his commitment.

My sense of pessimism only grew yesterday after Putin’s remarks at the plenary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in the Novgorod Region on the 19th of September.

First was his comment that:

“I am not 100% sure that the Syrian cabinet will comply with the US-Russian chemical weapons deal, but I think there is hope”

Putin has close relations with Assad, yet he is not sure that he will comply. This only strengthens the pessimists among us in countries who have no relations with Syria or influence over it, such as Israel.

The Russian president also stated in the same speech:

“I just want to remind [everyone] that Syria’s chemical weapons cache was built up in response to Israel’s nuclear capabilities,” said Putin, adding that “Israel has technological superiority and doesn’t need nuclear weapons.”

To me this is Putin’s way of justifying the possibility that Assad will hold some of his chemical weapons back and not declare them to the UN. Otherwise why say this? Assad has used his chemical weapons against his own people. What has Israel got to do with this?

Little chance before that Assad would give up his entire chemical weapons stock, even less now.

Is Turkey in turmoil?

4 Jun

Turkish PM has an odd way of calming what is a tense situation:

Drunkards, extremists, foreign agents and even Twitter – Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan is heaping blame on everyone except himself and his ruling party for an outbreak of violence involving a broad spectrum of Turkish society.

How long are these demonstrations likely to continue?

What are the demands of the demonstrators?

These are some of the questions which this interesting debate on Al Jazeera English tried to address today. Its a recommended watch.

Erdogan: practice what you preach

2 Jun

I am not a Turkish affairs expert. 

So lets start with things that I don’t know about these demonstrations. Chief among them is possible violence and law breaking by demonstrators. Did they unlawfully use violence against the police? did they break Turkish law in any way? I don’t know, but would like to find out.

What I do know more is that Erdogan has been gaining a reputation as a politician who more and more believes in “my way or the high way”. Yes he was democratically elected. Yes Turkey is a democracy. But what kind of democracy? Just because you are a democracy that does not mean that you can jail your own journalists because you don’t like what they are saying. But Erdogan does that. In case you didn’t know it:

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey leads the world in jailing reporters and is engaged in “one of the biggest crackdowns on press freedom in recent history,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Erdogan must be held to account for the excessive violence used against the demonstrators. First and foremost to the people of Turkey. And so do any protesters who used unlawful violence.

And this is bad for us in the region.

Why? I hear you ask.

Because Turkey is supposed to be an example of democracy in the region, and through his actions, Erdogan is setting the wrong example.

An example which says that despite the sacrifices for democracy which people have made, democratically elected leaders can still get away with clamping down against free speech by jailing journalists whose opinion they don’t like. They can use violence against protesters.

And this is anything but democratic. If anything, this is using democracy as a cover for what is essentially oppression and denial of the right to air grievances and criticisms.

Dear Mr Erdogan you need to change your ways.

And until you do, you have lost the right to lecture anyone else in this region about the need to treat other people with respect and dignity.

Start by practicing what you preach and spare me the lectures.

Just look at the video below. This is shameful, brutal behavior by your police against innocent bystanders in Izmir. Is this what you want to teach to the people of Gaza when you visit them in mid June?


Israel: Stealing Turkey’s Gas Market From Iran?

14 Feb

Benjamin Netanyahu has recently been busy, and not just with elections .

According to an article in today’s Israel’s Calcalist publication, over the last few months his government has been carrying out secret negotiations with the Turkish government over the sale of Israeli gas to Turkey.

The deal being discussed involves the construction of an undersea pipe line from Israel’s Leviathan gas field all the way to Turkey.

According to the deal which is being discussed, Israel would sell gas to Turkey. Furthermore, Israeli gas would also be transferred to Europe via Turkish territory.

The Calcalist article goes on to say that the Turks are interested because the price which Israel is offering them is lower than that of Russia which is currently supplying gas to Turkey.

It also says that Iran’s gas supply to Turkey has suffered from interruptions.

Although Netanyahu’s office has denied that a senior member from the Prime Minister’s Office has traveled recently to Turkey to discuss this deal, the Calcalist believes that the Prime Minister is a strong backer of the deal, not only because of economic reasons, but also strategic ones.  The article also mentions a positive response from some Turkish officials and at least one Turkish energy company.

This is still not a done deal. Relations between Israel and Turkey are tense. Nevertheless its good news that economy is bringing the two countries closer together. And if Avigdor Lieberman is jailed then Netanyahu may use his incarceration as an opportunity to repair relations with the Turkish government of Erdogan. This is something which Netanyahu previously wanted to do but was stopped by Lieberman.

Such a deal would serve Israeli interests on several fronts. I am sure hurting Iranian economic interests by replacing Iranian gas with Israeli gas in Turkey is one of them. Lets see what happens.


Will Iran Attack Turkey To Defend Syria?

5 Oct

Today Turkish forces bombarded positions inside Syrian territory for the second day in a row. 

According to AP:

“Although both sides moved to calm tensions, Turkey’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill allowing the military to conduct cross-border operations into Syria — making clear that Ankara has military options that do not involve its Western or Arab allies.”

In the middle of all this melee we should not forget that Iran and Syria have a defense pact which they signed in 2006.

The exact details of this pact are not well-known, but at least in one occasion in January 2012 an Iranian official warned that if Syria comes under attack from the US Iran would “act” as part of its 2006 defense pact with Damascus.

The question which must now be asked is: now that Syria is officially under attack from Turkey, will Iran come to its rescue by either attacking Turkey or alternatively through an increase in its support for Assad?

The answer in both cases is unlikely. Iran is not in a position to attack Turkey because of Syria. Not now, and almost certainly not ever. Perhaps only in the case of a full unjustified Turkish invasion. I emphasize the word perhaps.
There is also no guarantee that Iran would significantly increase its financial and military aid to Assad. If Assad is to receive anything, it’d be limited. Iran is currently going through a severe financial crisis. More than ever, it needs its dollars at home.
With an economic crisis brewing at home, Syria is likely to drop from Khamenei’s list of priorities, and fast.