- Turkey: Warships Will Back Next Gaza Flotilla - Sami Aboudi
"Turkish warships, in the first place, are authorized to protect our ships that carry humanitarian aid to Gaza," Prime Minister Erdogan said in an interview with Al-Jazeera on Thursday.
Erdogan also vowed to stop Israel from exploiting natural resources in the Mediterranean. "You know that Israel has begun to declare that it has the right to act in exclusive economic areas in the Mediterranean....You will see that it will not be the owner of this right, because Turkey, as a guarantor of the Turkish republic of north Cyprus, has taken steps in the area, and it will be decisive and holding fast to the right to monitor international waters in the east Mediterranean," he said. (Reuters)
The expanding crisis with Turkey "is not our choice" and Israel would gladly welcome a resolution, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday. "We respect the Turkish people and their heritage. We definitely want relations to improve."
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan accused Israel on Wednesday of not returning drones that Turkey had bought from Israel and had sent back for maintenance. Israeli defense officials dismissed the allegations. "At issue are drone engines that were sent to Israel for routine maintenance in accordance with the supply contract, and the Turks will get them back when the work is finished," a senior Israel Defense Ministry source said. "Erdogan's accusations are baseless." The 10 drones were supplied to the Turkish military two years ago. Delivery of the drones was delayed due to technical difficulties caused by the Turks' demand to install Turkish surveillance cameras, which were heavier than the original cameras. (Ha'aretz)
In Israel, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is believed to be the main obstacle that will prevent Turkey from actually following through with its threat and dispatching naval vessels to the eastern Mediterranean to confront the Israel Navy. This does not mean that Israel is not concerned with the possibility that the Turkish navy will send one of its advanced Barbaros frigates armed with Harpoon missiles, torpedoes and surface-to-air missiles to Israeli waters. (Jerusalem Post)
- Why the West Cares about Turkey's Diplomatic Conflict with Israel - Dore Gold
In a 2004 diplomatic cable revealed by WikiLeaks, an American diplomat in Turkey wrote about his concerns with Ankara's "new, highly activist foreign policy" and the "neo-Ottoman fantasies" of Ahmet Davutoglu, who today is Turkey's foreign minister. At a meeting at the main think tank of Turkey's ruling AKP Party, the American diplomat heard many saying that it is Turkey's role to spread Islam in Europe. He noted "the widespread belief" among the participants that Turkey should "avenge the defeat at the siege of Vienna in 1683" - where the Ottoman armies lost to the Hapsburg Empire.
These trends are not just a concern for the U.S., but for other countries who are doubtlessly monitoring trends in Turkey. In late 2009, Davutoglu spoke in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where he stated that "the Balkans, the Caucuses, and the Middle East were all better off when under Ottoman control or influence." For many states that were once part of the Ottoman Empire, especially in Europe, this statement undoubtedly raised eyebrows. Across Eastern Europe, from Hungary to Serbia, there are sites that are remembered as battlefields between Christian armies and the Ottoman Empire.
What Erdogan and Davutoglu do with Israel is seen as a warning sign regarding the future direction of Turkish policy. Will Turkey return to being a pragmatic ally of the West that serves as a bridge to the Middle East or will it pursue a new radical course that brings it increasingly into conflict with the countries around it? The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Israel Hayom)
- Erdogan's Temper Tantrum Should Benefit Kurds - Michael Rubin
Last month, a Turkish air raid killed seven Kurdish civilians in Iraqi Kurdistan. Surely, the Turks - by Erdogan's own definition - used disproportionate force against the unarmed Kurds - several of whom were children or infants. By Turkey's own rules, the Turkish air force pilots, their commanding officers, and Erdogan himself should be defendants in a war crimes trial. At the very least, the Iraqi Kurdish government should demand Turkey pay compensation for the Kurds killed by Turkish warplanes.
Turkey justifies its actions in Iraq because it considers the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to be a terrorist group, a definition the State Department shares. But, if it is willing to supply and support Hamas - a group that engages in far bloodier actions than the PKK - then Turkey has no moral or legal basis to continue its crusade against the PKK. The writer is a resident scholar at AEI. (Kurdistan Tribune-American Enterprise Institute)
The mentality that sent the Mavi Marmara [ship] to Gaza when there was no reason now causes great troubles for us. Now we live the pain of that. When we add "let us have the leading role in the Arab Spring" enthusiasm, relations with our neighbors are becoming very tense. When we also include Greece in the series due to Cyprus, after Syria, Iran and Israel, the "zero problems with the neighbors" policy is almost turning into a "there is no neighbor with which we have no problems" trend. (Hurriyet-Turkey-BBC Monitoring)