Turkey Vs. Israel: Will The Current Diplomatic Crisis Become A Military One?
This diplomatic crisis looks as though it very well could evolve into a military one as well with Turkey reportedly planning to deploy their navy to prevent another Mavi Marmara incident from occurring.
This is no small matter as previously the rift between Israel and Turkey was solely a diplomatic one with hefty rhetoric but no real action taken on either side.
With the release of the United Nation’s Palmer Report and Turkey’s announcement that they are going to seek legal action against those involved in the murder of nine activists in May of last year, the conflict suddenly jumped beyond the previously isolated domain of diplomatic relations.
According to the Hurriyet Daily News, the Turkish navy is now planning to significantly increase their presence in the Eastern portion of the Mediterranean Sea and one Turkish official was quoted as saying, “The eastern Mediterranean will no longer be a place where Israeli naval forces can freely exercise their bullying practices against civilian vessels,” clearly pointing to the Mavi Marmara massacre as the catalyst.
One might rightfully wonder if Israel didn’t have such an incredibly self-interested and self-righteous government, and thus had the ability to apologize for the murder of nine innocent civilians, would this conflict ever surface?
Personally, I think that if Israel could muster the humility to apologize for what were clearly illegal murders resulting from an attempt by humanitarian activists to break an illegal (even if the UN says otherwise) blockade on Gaza, Turkey might not react this way.
Unfortunately for the people of Israel and Turkey alike, Israel seems to be radically opposed to even the most minor concessions and that is why I think this diplomatic crisis could quickly turn into a military one.
Turkey is going to increase their patrols in the East Mediterranean Sea and will reportedly start implementing “a more aggressive strategy” in the region.
The most remarkable aspect of this news is that ships from the Turkish navy will now accompany civilian aid ships attempting to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
This means that if a real second flotilla was to occur, unlike the failed attempt at a second flotilla which completely collapsed earlier this year thanks to sabotage, illegal arrests and detentions and governmental threats, they would be accompanied by heavily armed Turkish naval vessels.
This is an enormous escalation and as former Conservative European Member of Parliament Richard Cottrell pointed out in his exclusive article entitled “Did Turkey just abort an Iranian 9/11?”, the fact that the Turkish Prime Minister has told his Foreign Ministry to prepare a trip for him to Gaza is quite telling.
Mr. Cottrell writes, “Since Israel would never grant him the equivalent of an entry visa, we can be sure other means would be taken by Turkish armed forces to ensure his safety.”
This visit has a very important and noteworthy purpose according to a Turkish official quoted in Haaretz, “We are looking for the best timing for the visit. Our primary purpose is to draw the world’s attention to what is going on in Gaza and to push the international community to end the unfair embargo imposed by Israel.”
Turkey, like me, is clearly not accepting the legitimacy of the United Nations whitewash report known as the Palmer Report, which determined that the collective punishment of Palestinians is legal and permissible.
The fact is that this recent escalation of hostility between the governments of Turkey and Israel is just a microcosmic example of a larger tide against Israel in the region.
The Chief of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) Home Front Command told Israeli Channel 10 that there is an increasing likelihood of an “all-out regional war in the Middle East”.
Haaretz reports that the Chief, Major General Eyal Eisenberg, told the Institute for National Security Studies that “such a conflict could potentially include the use of weapons of mass destruction.”
It is not said which side would be using these weapons of mass destruction, but one might safely assume that it would be Israel given their unchecked and unregulated nuclear arsenal and massive military presence funded to the detriment of the United States taxpayer.
Also telling is a recent column written by Akiva Eldar for Haaretz entitled, “Turkey crisis is just start of Israel’s diplomatic tsunami”, which was published today.
Eldar’s article is a fantastic glimpse into the exceptionalist thinking that has brought Israel to be the international terrorist state it is today.
However, instead of supporting this thinking like far too many columnists and pundits in Israel, Eldar seems to be taking a much more responsible approach to this issue.
He writes, “The crisis in relations with Turkey is a red alert of the attacks we’re in for on the diplomatic, security and economic fronts. It will affect the lives of 450,000 protesters and many more people who demanded social justice from their living room couches.”
He also points the finger at the regime of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by saying that if the peace talks had not eroded between Israel and Palestine then “Turkey might not have had to make such a major issue out of the flotilla.”
Interestingly, Eldar also seems to take Palestinian statehood recognition by the United Nations for granted by saying “[a]fter the United Nations fulfills the Palestinians’ request for a state” instead of “if the United Nations fulfills the Palestinians’ request”.
He also points out that the Turkish threat to confiscate Israeli goods and cease imports could deal a massive blow the struggling Israeli economy. Since only two other nations import more than Turkey, this is no small issue to be brushed aside.
If tensions couldn’t be higher and more obvious to international observers, today the Israeli news outlet Ynet News published an article about 40 Israeli nations aboard a Turkish Airlines flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul being held by local police on Monday.
The passengers told Ynet News that the Turkish officials were “disrespectful” and that an incident of this kind was “unprecedented” while also claiming that “the police officers didn’t even know what they were looking for.”
The article is pure speculation from the passengers themselves who clearly had no idea what was going on, which is unfortunate as I would really like to know what was driving the Turkish decision to detain these individuals.
However, one would not be out of line in thinking that it is an offshoot of the anti-Israeli sentiments among Turks and the Turkish government itself or even retaliation for similar treatment received by Turks at the Ben Gurion Airport in Israel.
This appears to be the preferred line of speculation among Israeli officials as well, as the above linked Ynet article indicates that so-called “Authorities in Jerusalem estimate that the detention of the Israeli passengers came in response to a recent incident during which Turkish citizens were detained for questioning by border police at Ben Gurion Airport.”
Regardless of the reasons, this is yet another example of the inflamed tensions and the crumbling relationship between the two nations.
One can only hope that this will not escalate to a full-scale conflict and that the IDF Home Front Command Chief is just attempting to flex and intimidate. Unfortunately, it currently looks like it could be more likely than unlikely that some sort of armed conflict will arise in the region in the near future.