Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Exchanging places for Turkey and Israel in Washington

One year ago about this time, United States’ president Barack Obama, newly popular leader in the Muslim world, was fighting with the Netanyahu govenment in Israel to prove that he could be an honest broker to bring peace to the region.
Obama did not only deliver a speech in Cairo, 13 months ago in June, which was watched and mostly adored by tens of millions around the Muslim world, he also publicly kept pushing back against the Israeli government for a total freeze in constructions for all settlements.
Throughout the year, up until only a few days ago, it was easy to see plenty of daylight between the U.S. and Israeli positions in many areas. When Obama saw Israel was not halting the settlements, but permitting more, and had disagreements over how much emergency the Iran nuclear program requires, U.S.-Israel relations started giving some serious red lights.
Israel’s own nuclear never-acknowledged-arsenal became another issue, when all 189 parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, including the United States, called in a declaration in New York in end of last May that singled out Israel for a conference in 2012 to discuss banning weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
While Obama’s relationships with Israel were going off a cliff, he was enjoying almost perfect relations with Turkey during the first year. Obama visited Turkey as his first bilateral overseas visit, happily played a role to polish Turkey’s regional leadership aspirations and described the ties with Turkey as “model partnership”.
During the same period, Turkey, while projecting its new pro-active policies in the neighboring region, was gaining Syria’s and Iran’s close friendships quickly, and aiming to make a breakthrough in relations with Armenia, which was proved to be a poorly planned and executed policy changing discourse later on filled many miscalculations and gaps.
Obama avoided using the word “genocide” in yearly Presidential Armenian Commemoration Day statement, hosted the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his Oval Office last December to replenish the “model partnership” with creating new economic coordination teams on the both sides. The U.S.-Turkey relationship was indeed seemed to be flowing well considering a brand new American administration was in Washington.
It was confirmed by some of the leading AKP politicians, that the AKP government officials told high American diplomats in Ankara a few months ago when Iran started to be a real pain on the relationship between Ankara and Washington, the Turkish administration understands Obama better and what he wants to do in the region than his own bureaucrats.
Obama’s insistence on policy of diplomatic engagement with Iran seemed another policy convergence point to the Turkish officials during first year who also believed the diplomatic track with Iran would be the only solution going forward.
Obama actually tried to stick with his diplomatic track policy on Iran and “tough love” policy against Israel until very recently. In that sense, the flotilla crisis triggered the US Congress to prove its love and support for the current Israeli government, increased the pressure on Obama to repair the ties with Israel and its Washington friends faster as an easier choice.
Mr. Richard Armitage, a former Deputy Secretary of State, told in Studio Washington this week, a daily news program, that the roots of today’s problems between America and Turkey might have been going back to Obama’s visit to Turkey in last April. Mr. Armitage did not elaborate the point, however it was clear to me that he was referring to the high expectations that were created following such an early and extraordinary Presidential visit which eventually pushed both parties’ expectations’ to different corners.
Turkey took some big matters to its own hands as a mission of its new mutually understood regional power status during the year or tried to stuff the room that seemingly Israel was abandoning as the US’ closest ally in the region. To be fair, there were plenty of signals that seemed as Obama’s blessings to this new mission.
Alas, before too long, the Obama administration realized that there is an upcoming rout in the November elections, and saw no positive results in pushing Netanyahu to compromise, in brief the policies that have been followed for so far. Consequently, the Obama White House made its decision to take a safer route for the last few weeks with the Israeli government and cozied up with its ever powerful Jewish lobby.
Exactly at this juncture, the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington, DC this week and met with an all but ready president who has politically no other choice but to accept any offer or promise he is about hear from his guest.
While the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Serkan Demirtas, Ankara bureau chief of the Hurriyet Daily News that Turkey might cut off its ties with Israel if Israel did not apologize or acknowledge an international-impartial inquiry just a day before the Obama-Netanyahu meeting, the flotilla crisis was not even touched during the long statements of the leaders of both countries at the Oval Office.
Obama praised the Netanyahu government publicly for showing a quicker progress to ease the blockade on the Gaza people. While the whole discussions over the Gaza blockade in reality was flamed by the botched flotilla operation, Turkey could not even receive any credit on this easement policy either.
Obama’s reputation with the Muslim world took a heavy blow with his latest Israel/Arab peace process policy discourse as well. The Obama administration, from this week on, will have no leverage left over the Netanyahu government. During his most powerful and popular time in his presidency, which was the last 18 months of the first term, Obama could not get Netanyahu to agree on the important issues. It is safe to argue that there is much less chance now for Obama to apply any meaningful leverage over Netanyahu in much weaker coming months, after already back-stepping several times.
With Israel on the rise, Turkey was bashed behind the closed door meetings in Washington, according to some background talks.
Reportedly, the American administration also asked Turkey in recent days to stop mediating between the West and Iran, right after Obama signed the stronger sanctions package against Iran which passed by the US Congress earlier weeks.
This week proved that Israel is “in” Washington, and Turkey is “out”. For how long this new equation would go on, or under which circumstance that the equation would change, are the significant questions that will be analyzed in the months ahead.
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Guest - gil
2010-07-12 18:29:21
 i said it once i will say it again 2 clowns rule turkey today 2 silly megalomaniac Muslim clowns better get rid of them FAST! 
Guest - American
2010-07-11 18:08:27
 You Turks need to release yourself from the colonial mentality and find respect and honor within yourself/ves. Dependents (Slaves) followers are seldom respected as equals, least of all by Europeans and/or Americans. If you want others to honor and respect you then, you must stand on your own feet build your own rock sold identity. Repeated military interventions have weakened you to the point of being confused and dependent. You can lift your skirt as high or even higher than Europeans or Americans but do not expect them to own you, for they know who they are ! Do you know who you are ? America is a rather young nation and Israel even younger and you ? Find a way to respect your own history and strengthen your own identity from within. When your Military submits itself to your civil leadership and the civil institutions, it will be difficult for your enemies/competitors to exploit you. Your competitors will look up to you and your enemies ? 
Guest - Cynic
2010-07-11 17:06:54
 It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that siding with Iran (a country which has chanted death to America for 40 yrs) rules out Turkey as a legitimate ally of the USA. The USA may continue to be polite to Turkey - praise the alliance etc - but siding with Iran is as bad as it gets. Turkey has burned it's bridges with the USA - Israel - the EU - and most of the Arab World. You made your bed - hope you enjoy sleeping in it. 
Guest - Perseus
2010-07-11 10:29:58
 Plain and simple, Turkey overestimated it's value to the USA. Turkey has done it time and again-last time was 2003 when the Turkish leadership tried to extort many Billions of dollars from the US for letting American military use Turkish bases to invade Iraq (then turned America down cold). That led to 7 years of less than pleasant relations with Washington. Now Obama comes into office, tickles the Turk leaderships ears with some praise early on and-once again-Turkey puffs up and overestimates itself. It is time for Turkey to realize you're not as important to the US as you think you are. And when it comes to a choice between Turkey and Israel, you won't even be in the race. Not even distant, DISTANT second place. 
Guest - John
2010-07-11 05:12:27
 A very well thought out article by Mr Tanir. The question I have now is this - Has Turkey severed its ties with Israel, US and the EU with no way back and now belongs in the Iranian camp? 
Guest - bluedog
2010-07-11 05:11:52
 The reality is that the USA contains a large constituency that is pro-Israel. On the other hand there is no significant pro-Turkish constituency with the US electorate. It follows that there is no point in sounding hurt or surprised when a US politician such as Obama plays the Israeli card to secure his own position. Equally, it is quite clear that the Obama Administration sees through the recent machinations of Turkish PM Erdogan who seems viscerally both anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish. By playing the anti-Israeli card, Erdogan has simply made Turkey the diplomatic enemy of the US and also a threat to Obama's own political position. If Turks regret the consequences of Erdogan's impetuous behaviour they can exercise their democratic privileges and vote him and the AKP out of office at the next opportunity. 
Guest - Aryeh
2010-07-11 04:57:47
 Abu-Mazen must not expect Israel to delay the 10 month settlment freeze if he doesnt come to direct peace talks. If he wishes to stay relevant for his people he must start direct talks before the freeze is over -end of September. If he doesnt, Netanyahu will continue building in East Jerusalem and Settlements - No US policy will stop him. 
Guest - Aryeh
2010-07-11 04:54:21
 Turkey must not try to take Israels space for it cant. Turkey is a unique country with its own positives and negatives, it must play its cards accordingly. Turkey and US have a difference of opinion when it comes to a number of critical issues. First, Turkey Israeli crises. US is not stupid, it takes note of Turkish encouragement of flotila, and recent incitement against Israel. US takes note of Turkish sympathy toward Terrorist organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah, and IHH. US takes note of Turkish movement Eastward toward Iran and Syria. These issues represent difference of opinion.While Turkey did receive the US president it should not be fooled to think US is in its hands. Turkey must act civilized if it wishes to join Western powers. If Turkey continues its defiance, and tried to gain more strategical strength while promoting sympathy and support for terrorist organizations it will pay a dear price. Dont forget US and NATO are at WAR to fight Terror. 
Guest - Aryeh
2010-07-11 04:46:42
 When Obama first came to office he wanted to take a relative hard line with Israel -so Israel would make "tough" decisions (work toward peace). It has long been argued in Washington when US takes tough stance against Israel its neighbors start thinking US and Israel are at adds. This will be a misunderstanding as we all know today. Washington's pressure toward Israel is not confrontation but encouragement. You read US-Israel strategic relationship wrong if you think Obama will force Israel to do something which will risk its security or the security of its citizens. It is important to note Israel did succumb to pressure when it came to settlement. Netanyahu freezed settelment building, removed road blocks, increased military cooperation with PLO, increased financial coordination with PLO. No prime minister Left or Right wing ever freezed settlements, this is due to Obama's pressure not Israeli willingness. But dont mistake encouragement for confrontation - US-Israeli ties are stronger! 
Guest - javier
2010-07-11 04:27:12
 Wow! What is the title of Mr Ilhan Tanir article "Exchanging places for Turkey and Israel in Washington'? It sounds very flattering for Turkey to be exchange for Israel in Washigton! In Washigton, Turkey never ever was counted to be on same line with Israel! Israel was, is , and will be number 1 priority on Washigton mind! The today`s problem is that Turkey forgat her place and Washigton pointed where is it! 
Guest - kwell
2010-07-11 03:38:57
 Obama doesnt care about his rating in the Muslim world, but in America.. so, as long as his ratings are down here, he needs rich Jewish donors, lobbies and strong jewish opinon makers.. so, nobody should be surprised by Obama's U Turn.. Camon! 
Guest - EtherHaman
2010-07-11 02:00:55
 This just goes to show you how much the Zionist infiltration in our government has affected our leadership role around the world and a 6 million Zionists have put the world only super power in their back pocket. The days that our policies were determined independently by our own analysis is over and we are being manipulated by what we have created. watch and see your country being stolen from right underneath you. It doesn't feel right to me. 
Guest - Rupert
2010-07-11 00:49:06
 Turkey has proved for it´s former allies (Israel & U.S.A.) that it has gone from a trustworthy friend to almost a foe. It is very clear for EU & U.S.A. that Turkey is more loyal to Iran than to anybody else.. 
Guest - kologlu
2010-07-11 00:11:17
 Well ! Mr. İLHAN TANIR as far as I understand your point is that Turkey overestimated its meaning for Washington and overplayed her hand! May be that is true. I think that the USA needs Turkey until she protects Israel! The Turkish blunder and miscalculation with Gaza scared APIAC! Now finally Turkey must take in the mind who is the boss in Washington and navigate carefully! The Gaza icident needs to be solved quietly without rude rhetoric and noise! And everything needs to be done in Washigton in order do not let APIAC join the Armenian "genocide" bullies! If it happens we gonna lose America for good! 
Guest - Murat
2010-07-10 20:05:01
 Is it possible that standing of Turkey in the Middle East, in its own neighbirhood and among its peers is more important than its standing among the US Senators and congressmen who are mostly known to be pions in the hands of powerful lobbies? Problem is NOT AKP or Turkey, it is the cancer of ME conflict which Turks did not start. Solutions are NOT in DC or EU, they are in ME. Sooner or later Israel will come to realize it but it may be too late already. 
Guest - andy From DC
2010-07-10 18:08:02
 So Mr Obama tried to be Turkey's best friend, and Mr Erdogan responded by stabbing him, and the USA, in the back. That will be remember for a long long time. 
Guest - donha
2010-07-10 18:02:10
 Looks like Turkey is in the dog house these days and will remain there for a long time. The AKP under front man ol’ RTE en his cohorts the FM and president, have very little credit left in the West. Have the powers that be decided on regime change in Turkey? 
Guest - sb
2010-07-10 16:44:06
 Mr.Guy fails to admit Israelis Zionist policy in Arab lands has been the main cause of why Palestinians feel the way they do and teach their kids not to forget who the aggressor is.So, Mr.Guy, I advice you to write a letter to Bibi and plead with him to stop illegal construction in east Jerusalem and west Bank and allow Palestinians to establish their own independent state with no strings attached.Only then you will see the Palestinians negative attitudes against the Jews changing for the better. 
Guest - Bill
2010-07-10 06:31:39
 If Turkey is "out" it is not by chance, but through the deliberate activities of the AKP. Just 2 of the most recent glaring examples ("fixing the Iranian bomb problem for the US and the pathetic Flotilla grandstanding) are indefensible in both the US Congress and to the American "street" 
Guest - B. Baronian
2010-07-10 05:27:22
 I am going to tell you guys one more time...There is no Muslism World..There are countries whose religion is Islam. Which planet does the Muslim World Live on? Please let me know...the phrase Muslim World is what your leaders are banking on to remain in power and to enslave you forever. 
Guest - M&M
2010-07-10 01:41:08
 Well, it's a doggy dog world out there, bribery, politics, elections they all go hand in hand. Turkiye has nothing to fear, stick to your guns and stay neutral, they should have the attitude you're not there for me, I won't be there for you either when I am needed. Let the supportes of USA line up when help is needed, but I don't see anybody lined to help good old USA. With USA's double stabbing policy, USA, is going down and Israel will follow. Let's not forget there are more muslims in these world then any other, and Turks will be supported by them. So wake up USA and Israel be true and a good friend of Turkey, because you will be needing them desperately(Turkey). If anybody who is going to bring any stability in the middleast, it will be Turkey. Regards to all, stop trashing Turkey it's not working anymore. 
Guest - David Guy
2010-07-10 01:20:45
 Where both Obama and Hurriyet get it wrong is the assumption the problem is one man called Netanyahu. The problem is around 5.5 million Israelis who see the Palestinians openly calling for their destruction, declaring all of Israel is a settlement, indoctrinating their children to kill Jews and in the case of the Palestinian Authority saying peaceful things in English and immediately calling for war in Arabic, although to be fair Hamas calls on Arabs to kill Jews in both languages. Prove to the Israelis that their total lack of trust in the Palestinians and those like the Turkish Government who support the Palestinians is not rational, prudent and realistic and Netanyahu will be no problem.

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