Both Turkey and Israel are losing their influence
Followers of this column may have read numerous times how important Turkish-Israeli relations are. Recent developments have further highlighted the significance of this relationship. Those experts who are especially attentive are aware of how Israel’s influence in the region is gradually decreasing.
An Israel not backed by Turkey, which cannot establish a dialogue on certain topics, regardless of its military power, regardless of the fact that the United States backs it, nevertheless feels isolated in the region, or at least is perceived that way.
Israel, just like us, is bound to wrestle with the major issues of the region.
The process of regime change in Syria has begun, and it is Israel that ponders most who will rule after Bashar al-Assad. It is their biggest concern that the Muslim Brotherhood or a radical religious party may take power. A new Syria that will resort to aggressive politics unlike al-Assad’s will increase the issues Israel has to tackle. In such a case, the only country that could back Israel is Turkey. But Israel cannot exchange information or cooperate with Ankara, the closest address to the developments in Syria.
No one can calculate where the “Arab Spring” is heading. It has become obvious that the “democratization” hoped for will take many years to achieve. While so much ambiguity exists, is there any other country but Turkey for Israel to confer with or act in solidarity with?
The subject of the “nuclearization” of Iran is a much bigger problem than all the rest, and the target of the cannon is Israel. Soon, this debate will expand and the tension will climb further. On the subject of Iran, Turkey is the country that Israel would feel the most need to act in solidarity with in the region.
You may have noticed that I have not even included in this list the probability of the separation of Iraq or the Palestine issue.
Netanyahu must decide
Despite all these facts, the arrogant stances of [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and Foreign Minister [Avigdor] Lieberman on the subject of the Mavi Marmara [flotilla incident] are not changing. Lieberman’s statements to Turkish journalists especially demonstrate that they still insist on their old stances. This is too bad.
To overcome this problem and to bring the relationship to a re-negotiable point, diplomats from the two countries have negotiated for 15 months. They have reached an agreement three times, and each time it has been vetoed by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Lieberman for political reasons.
Israel should make a decision now. What will better serve its interests, normalizing relations with Turkey, or not doing so? Will it be beneficial to open dialogue with Turkey, or not?
Turkey without Israel
Looking at the other side of the coin, the scene is not any brighter. It is not only Israel that loses because of being at odds. Turkey is also harmed.
One important factor we should not ignore is that a Turkey that has no dialogue with Israel is not as interesting as it used to be in the eyes of the countries of the region. As a result, [Foreign Minister Ahmet] Davutoğlu is not able to shuttle, is not able to establish dialogues among sides as he used to.
When he made his famous “One minute…” exclamation, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was raised up above shoulders, his posters were hung everywhere. But today, that mood does not exist anymore.
The change in the Arab world is also reflected in Turkey. And Turkey, involuntarily, has lost its former influence. Everyone knows now that no Middle East policy can be conducted without Israel. It is also obvious that in the chess game of the Middle East, one cannot go anywhere with only Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf countries, or be influential just by forming a Sunni front.
Turkey also should make a decision now. Paths in diplomacy never come to an end; there is always an exit.