Analysts are warning the U.S., and its ally Israel, about the instability they see in Turkey, where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called Israel the biggest impediment to Middle East peace, has demanded Israel apologize for defending itself, and has suggested his nation’s military might enable blockade runners to move against Israel’s weapons blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Heritage Foundation foreign policy analyst Ariel Cohen believes that Turkey is not only setting itself up for confrontation with Israel, but with the U. S. as well.
“This is a headlong collision because the Obama administration does not want recognition of the Palestinian state at the U.N.,” Cohen said.
American Enterprise Institute’s Middle East analyst Michael Rubin says Turkey’s actions and closer alignment with the Islamic world in recent days demonstrate that Turkey is not a good fit for the freedom-focused North Atlantic Treaty Organization, of which it is a member.
“While Turkey was an important Cold War ally, increasingly Turkey has become a liability to the United States and NATO,” Rubin said.
“The issue is not Israel and the current conflict: Rather, the more Erdogan reaches out to China and Iran, and the more he controls the military, the greater the risk to the United States and NATO of the leakage of our most important defense technologies and secrets to our enemies,” Rubin explained.
WND has reported that human rights activists and other analysts have said Turkey’s increasingly close ties to radical Islamic states also make the Asia Minor country unfit for membership in the European Union.
International Christian Concern’s Jonathan Racho said Turkey’s radical Islamic activism will open Europe to a freer flow of potential terrorists.
“There’s been an increasing Islamization of Europe through immigration of Muslims from Muslim nations. If Turkey joins, then the EU rules would allow the free movement of Turkey’s Islamists throughout Europe,” Racho said. “This possibility is a clear reason for Europe to deny Turkey’s admission into the EU.”
Another dynamic is the coming United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood. Cohen says that Turkey’s aggression is perfectly timed to coincide with the UN vote.
“Turkey is not just supporting it on a vote basis, but they’ve pulled out all the stops to escalate this issue and make it the defining issue in the Muslim world,” Cohen said.
“Under its leadership, Prime Minister Erdogan berated Arabs for not doing enough on this issue and this is a very worrisome and disconcerting development,” Cohen added.
Listen to an interview with Cohen:
Regarding the vote on Palestinian statehood, in a Hudson Institute conference call, former Israeli ambassador to the United States Dore Gold said the Palestinian bid for statehood is a direct violation of the Oslo accords.
“The Palestinian move at the United Nations is a violation, I’ll even go further, it’s a material breach of the Oslo agreement. How everyone reacts will have to wait until the act,” Gold said.
“We’ve (Israel) made it clear however that it’s a fundamental violation and that Israel is free to act as it sees fit,” Gold said.
Gold emphasized that European countries who signed the Oslo accords should re-evaluate their support for Palestinian statehood.
“The Europeans are witnesses to the agreement. They put their names on it. So, are they going to vote for or against an agreement that they supported?” Gold said.
Rubin said that Turkey’s actions are timed to coincide with the U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood and that there is a relationship between Turkey’s actions and all of the events in the Middle East.
However, he said Turkey’s ambitions go beyond Israel and the U.N. vote. Turkey is deliberately aiming to destabilize the entire region, he charged.
“As for the U.N. vote on the Palestinians, this is simply the latest example of Turkey’s efforts to undermine the Middle East Peace Process and is evidence
of how Erdogan’s behavior is sacrificing the security of the region for his short-term political interests,” Rubin said.
Cohen agrees and he said that evidence of Turkey’s ambitions as a Middle East power are illustrated by overtures to other major Middle East players.
“Beyond that, Turkey is in a confrontation with Iran over Syria, and it is reaching out to Egypt,” Cohen said.
Cohen says that Turkey’s overtures to Egypt add another dimension.
“Reaching out Egypt is significant because Egypt itself is in a state of flux, and there is a competition between Iran and Turkey over who is going to influence Egypt more,” Cohen said.
“So now the Turks are winning and I think the Turks will win,” Cohen continued.
“What we are witnessing is a frenzied policy of building up Turkey as a leader in the Muslim world and competing with Iran over who is going to hate Israel more,” Cohen added.
Cohen said Turkey’s actions undermine what he says is the remaining portion of Obama’s Middle East policy.
He said Turkey’s alliance with Hamas is also contributing to a breakdown of the peace process.
“Hamas is recognized by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization and Turkey is betting on Hamas, so Turkey is supporting a jihadi organization in the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Cohen observed.
Cohen said that Turkey’s actions are also aimed at Cyprus and the Mediterranean natural gas fields.
“The saber-rattling does not only address Israel, it also addresses Cyprus because Turkey said that it will interfere with energy developments – offshore gas developments in the Israeli Exclusive Economic Zone and the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone,” Cohen explained.
“This is a threat of aggression because the location of the Israeli gas fields is not disputed by any country, not even by Lebanon,” Cohen said.
“There were threats by Hezbollah but Hezbollah is a terrorist organization,” Cohen added.
Israeli officials haven’t been completely silent because the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports Israel will defend its natural gas rights if Turkey increases patrols in the Mediterranean.
The BBC reported Erdogan says Palestinian statehood is a necessity and that Israel is the barrier to peace in the region.
The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Israeli government officials haven’t made any public statements about the host of media reports that Turkey intends to engage Israel militarily.