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Turkey threatens to cut ties with Israel

Donald Trump’s gamble over Jerusalem/Al-Quds may be a final straw for Erdogan.

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Turkey’s anger with the United States continues to grow. After a weekend of slamming the US for attempting to meddle in Turkish domestic and international affairs, while accusing the US of effectively sponsoring the illegal Fethullah Terrorist Organisation, Turkey’s President Erdogan has now slammed proposals by Donald Trump to break with the rest of the world and recognise Jerusalem/Al-Quds as the capital of Israel.

This move is controversial throughout the world and particularly offensive to Muslims as the holy city is recognised as occupied Palestinian territory.

Erdogan has stated,

“Jerusalem is the red line for Muslims. Such a decision will be a heavy blow for all mankind. We will not leave it. We will fight to the end. We may even reach a severance of diplomatic relations with Israel. I once again warn the United States not to take steps that will further deepen the crisis in the region”.

Turkey’s relations with Israel have become strained in recent years, particularly due to Tel Aviv’s overt support for Kurdish secessionism in northern Iraq.

As I previously predicted:

“During a rousing speech, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again blasted the Kurdish secession vote which took place in northern Iraq on the 25th of September.

Most prominently Erdogan said of the referendum during which Kurds waved both Kurdish and Israeli flags,

“This shows one thing, that this administration (in northern Iraq) has a history with Mossad, they are hand-in-hand together”.

Erodgan continued to repeat his threats of pending economic failure for Kurdish seized regions of Iraq in the aftermath of a promised Turkish embargo in addition to the current no-fly zone over the area which is supported by Baghdad.

He continued in a rhetorical address to Iraqi Kurds, with whom the Turkish government once had a positive relationship. Erdogan asked,

“Are you aware of what you are doing? Only Israel supports you. Wake up from this dream!”

Erdogan is correct when he notes the connection between the Israeli secret intelligence service, Mossad and Kurdish insurgents in Iraq.

Israeli scholar Ofra Bengio wrote the following on the subject,

“In 1966, Iraqi defense minister Abd al-Aziz al-Uqayli blamed the Kurds of Iraq for seeking to establish “a second Israel” in the Middle East. He also claimed that “the West and the East are supporting the rebels to create [khalq] a new Israeli state in the north of the homeland as they had done in 1948 when they created Israel. It is as if history is repeating itself. An Arab commentator had warned earlier that if such a thing should happen, “the Arabs will face within two decades their second nakba [catastrophe] after Palestine.” These contentions speak volumes regarding Iraq’s threat perceptions of the Kurds more than four decades after the establishment of the Iraqi state. They also conceptualize Israel as the ultimate evil in the region. Such accusations are echoed today by some Arab media, which claim that Kurdistan is following in the footsteps of “Yahudistan” (“Land of the Jews”). Seen from the Kurdish and Israeli perspectives, these linkages and parallels are intended to demonize and delegitimize both while also implying illegitimate relations between them. The intriguing questions are therefore what kind of relations exist between Israel and the Kurds?”

She continued, discussing how Israel came to gradually increase support for the Kurds in Iraq after the Ramadan Revolution of 8 February 1963, which brought the Arab Socialist Ba’ath party to power in Iraq for the first time,

“One of the early Kurdish interlocutors was activist Ismet Sherif Vanly. In his memoirs, Vanly revealed that in 1964, when the Kurdish revolution was in dire straits, he suggested to Kurdish leader Mulla Mustafa Barzani that he contact Jerusalem for help. Upon Barzani’s agreement, Vanly went to Israel (with the help of the head of the Iranian intelligence) where he met Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, as well as Shimon Peres, head of the Labor party. Following that visit, the Israeli government sent a permanent representative to Iraqi Kurdistan. The Israelis also attempted to arrange meetings for Vanly with U.S. officials, but the latter refused. According to Vanly, Ibrahim Ahmad, who later would split from Barzani’s party, had at an earlier date made a secret visit to Israel. The revelation about Ahmad is important because, in later years, Ahmad’s faction leaked information about the secret relationship between the Barzanis and Israel in order to embarrass the Barzanis.

These ties, kept secret by both sides, reached their peak in the early years of the Baath in 1968-75. Barzani visited Israel secretly twice, in 1968 and 1973, meeting with high Israeli officials including the prime minister. Mustafa’s sons Masoud and Idris also visited Israel. For their part, various Israeli officials frequented the Kurdish region. Some conspiracy theories put the number of Israelis present at the time in Kurdistan in the thousands. In fact, they did not exceed three or four.

These ties brought benefits to both partners. Jerusalem obtained intelligence as well as support for a few thousand Jews fleeing Baath Iraq. The Kurds received security and humanitarian aid as well as links to the outside world, especially the United States. The first official acknowledgment that Jerusalem had provided aid to the Kurds dates to September 29, 1980, when Prime Minister Menachem Begin disclosed that Israel had supported the Kurds “during their uprising against the Iraqis in 1965–1975″ and that the United States was aware of the fact. Begin added that Israel had sent instructors and arms but not military units.

Israeli aid was initially limited to human-itarian assistance such as the construction of a field hospital in 1966. It expanded gradually, eventually to include the supply of small arms and ammunition. Later, it encompassed more sophisticated equipment such as antitank and antiaircraft weapons. It also included training Kurds in Israel and Kurdistan.

One reliable source claimed that all training of Kurds was provided by Israel. Rafael Eytan, who visited Kurdistan in 1969 before he became Israel’s chief of staff, stated that almost all of the Israeli trainers were paratroopers. Israelis also served as advisers. In fact, Eytan’s visit served the same purpose. But it should be stressed that Israelis were never involved directly in combat and had no command role whatsoever. They also helped in activities such as propaganda campaigns in Europe, courses for Kurdish medics, and with the creation of schoolbooks in Kurdish. These ties were abruptly stopped in March 1975 following the Algiers agreement between Iraq and Iran that put an end to the Kurdish rebellion. But discrete relations were resumed a few years later and have continued for most of the time ever since”.

What is crucial to understand is that in holding the referendum against the wishes of all regional powers except for Israel and against the wishes of all international powers including both Russia and the United States, the Iraqi Kurdish regime took the calculated gamble that the lone support of Israel would be more valuable than the multitude of enemies who would be and have been galvanised by the vote.

But more interestingly, the Israeli leadership, in putting themselves out in favour of Kurdish secession for the first time (prior to this, Israeli leaders either spoke about such matters covertly or with statements laced in innuendo), Israel  put its traditionally good relationship with Turkey on the line, just as the US has in Syria by supporting Kurdish militants there.

Except for the very public row over the illegal Israeli raid of a Turkish aid flotilla bringing aid to Gaza in 2010, Israel’s relationship with the Republic of Turkey has generally been positive. It could even be fair to say that Turkey has been Israel’s closet partner in the Middle East throughout this time and certainly this has been true since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 turned Iran from a partner into an adversary.

Erdogan, both as President and before that, as Prime Minster of Turkey, has had an on again/off again relationship with Tel Aviv. Prior to the Kurdish vote, the spats Erdogan  had with Israel have either been over the Israeli raid on the infamous Gaza Flotilla, something which is still viewed as an insult to Turkey by most parties in Ankara, or otherwise due to Erdogan’s occasional statements in favour of greater justice for Palestine.

In either case, both of these related spats are due to a matter of pride and geo-political stature, rather than an issue which directly effects Turkish security. Until now, Turkey’s relationship to the Palestine issue has been generally more remote than that of the Arab world and post-1979 Iran.

This may change however, but not because of anything happening in Palestine per se. Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s support of Kurdish secessionism in Iraq, is from a Turkish perspective, the equivalent of a Turkish leader supporting the creation of a Hezbollah led Islamic Republic in southern Lebanon.

Furthermore, due to Israel’s longstanding relations with Iraqi Kurds, the analogy can be carried further. It would be as if Turkey supported Hezbollah with arms, funds and geo-political good will for decades before then calling for a new Hezbollah led state. One only needs to realise that Israel wants to essentially provoke a US led war on Iran due to Tehran’s relationship with Hezbollah, in order to know how seriously Turkey takes Israel’s stance on Iraqi Kurds, in this context.

Israel has grown accustomed to being at odds with the Arab world and Israel has exploited latent divisions in the Arab world so much so that Saudi Arabia will likely soon join Egypt and Jordan as two Arab countries that have open relations with Tel Aviv. Israel is also used to antagonising the Islamic Republic of Iran, but Israel is not used to having Turkey as an enemy, because such a thing has never occurred.

Unless Israel distances itself from Iraqi Kurds, both covertly and publicly, the world may be facing the spectre of the two most important non-Arab states in the Middle East, Turkey and Iran, both becoming adversaries to Israel.

In this sense, some individuals within the Israeli deep state may have seen Turkey’s growing relations with Iran as a threat. However, while it is not difficult to imagine some Israelis thinking like this, the logic behind such thinking is incredibly flawed to the point of being ignorant.

Like Russia, Turkey’s relationship with Iran is built on mutual economic benefits, geo-political realism, petro-politics and the need to intensify regional cooperation in preparation for the arrival of One Belt–One Road in the Middle East. Turkey is no more ideologically in-line with Iran than Russia is. Each country has a completely different state ideology and if anything, were Erdogan to fully bring Sunni Islamism to the front and centre of formerly secular Turkey, this will actually mean that Turkey will be even more ideologically different from Iran vis-a-vis a more religiously neutral Kemalist state.

Erdogan is ultimately not an ideologue, even though his language might often obscure such a fact. Erdogan is actually a pragmatist with a very loud and sometimes loose tongue. Erdogan is a man whose co-opting of Turkish civil society ought to read as a master text for leaders looking to consolidate their rule, gradually remove or placate opponents and remake civil institutions to work in one’s personal favour. Few could pull such a thing off and no Turkish leader since Ataturk has made such a profound mark on the Turkish state.

Likewise, Erdogan’s geo-politics is equally pragmatic. Erdogan has not distanced himself from NATO, the US and EU because of some desire to join ‘club Eurasia’. He has become part of ‘club Eurasia’ because he realised that this will be to Turkey’s economic benefit and that Russia and Iran are more easy to work with than the EU. The contest between an increasingly closed and economically retarded EU and China’s One Belt–One Road, which in any case will still give Turkey access to the EU through the backdoor, was not a matter of ideology, it was a matter of obvious self-interest.

Furthermore, even Erdogan’s decision to quietly shift from a position of ‘Assad must go’ to working in the Astana group and tacitly conceding that the Ba’ath party will remain in power in Damascus is a totally  pragmatic move.

Erdogan switched teams in order to join the winning side in respect of Syria. He thought he’d be able to get a piece of the Syrian pie by calling for regime change and now that he’s sensed that no regime change will occur, he’s increasingly linking himself with Russia and Iran as a ‘master peacemaker’ even though in this respect, Russia is doing most of the heavy lifting.

Here too Erodgan in exiting from the US camp over Syria , he has likewise exited the Israeli camp, though not for ideological reasons.

In this sense, Israel has acted purely on emotion with the Kurds. If Turkey cuts off access to northern Iraq, in cooperation with Baghdad, the oil that Kurds wanted to illegally sell through Israel, will never be able to see the light of day. Furthermore, in assuming Turkey’s President to be far more ideologically driven than he is, Israel has exposed its own ideological flaws and its own latent desires for illegal territorial expansion, as outlined in the 1982 Yinon Plan. Israel has not only exposed its ambition but moreover, Israel has exposed the fact that its greed has got the better of geo-strategic clarity.

With the world focused on Erdogan’s rhetoric towards Israel, people ought to focus more on Israel’s actions towards Turkey. These are actions of hostility and while Israel might not admit this, Turkey has already stated it for the world to see. By so publicly opposing Turkey at a time when Turkey’s geo-political re-orientation has given Ankara a new boost of confidence, Israel is picking a fight it will ultimately loose unless concessions and retractions are made soon.

Israel has just picked up a new enemy in the Middle East and it is the one with the Middle East’s largest and along with Iran, its  most capable armed forces”.

Israel is on the verge of turning Turkey into an enemy

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BREXIT chaos, as May’s cabinet crumbles (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 18.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the various scenarios now facing a crumbling May government, as the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is forcing cabinet members to resign in rapid succession. The weekend ahead is fraught with uncertainty for the UK and its position within, or outside, the European Union.

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If Theresa May’s ill-fated Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is eventually rejected this could trigger a vote of no confidence, snap elections or even a new referendum…

Here are six possible scenarios facing Theresa May and the UK (via The Guardian)

1 Parliament blocks Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement and political declarations

May faces an enormous task to win parliamentary approval, given that Labour, the SNP, the DUP and 51 Tories have said they will not vote for it.

If the remaining 27 EU member states sign off the draft agreement on 25 November, the government will have to win over MPs at a crucial vote in early December.

If May loses the vote, she has 21 days to put forward a new plan. If she wins, she is safe for now.

2 May withdraws the current draft agreement

The prime minister could decide that she will not get the draft agreement through parliament and could seek to renegotiate with the EU.

This would anger Tory backbenchers and Brussels and would be seen as a humiliation for her government. It might spark a leadership contest too.

3 Extend article 50

May could ask the European council to extend article 50, giving her more time to come up with a deal that could be passed by parliament – at present, the UK will leave on 29 March 2019.

Such a request would not necessarily be granted. Some EU governments are under pressure from populist parties to get the UK out of the EU as soon as possible.

4 Conservative MPs trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister

If Conservative MPs believe May is no longer fit for office, they could trigger a no-confidence vote.

Members of the European Research Group claim that Graham Brady, the chair of the powerful 1922 Committee, will receive the necessary 48 letters this week.

A vote could be held as soon as early next week. All Tory MPs would be asked to vote for or against their leader. If May wins, she cannot be challenged for at least 12 months. If she loses, there would be a leadership contest to decide who will become prime minister.

5 General election – three possible routes

If May fails to get support for the current deal, she could call a snap general election.

She would table a parliamentary vote for a general election that would have to be passed by two thirds of MPs. She would then set an election date, which could be by the end of January.

This is an unlikely option. May’s political credibility was severely damaged when she called a snap election in 2017, leading to the loss of the Conservative party’s majority.

Alternatively, a general election could be called if a simple majority of MPs vote that they have no confidence in the government. Seven Tory MPs, or all of the DUP MPs, would have to turn against the government for it to lose the vote, triggering a two-week cooling-off period. May would remain in office while MPs negotiate a new government.

Another route to a general election would be for the government to repeal or amend the Fixed-term Parliaments Act which creates a five-year period between general elections. A new act would have to be passed through both the Commons and the Lords – an unlikely scenario.

6 Second referendum

May could decide it is impossible to find a possible draft deal that will be approved by parliament and go for a people’s vote.

The meaningful vote could be amended to allow MPs to vote on whether the country holds a second referendum. It is unclear whether enough MPs would back a second referendum and May has ruled it out.

 

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Brexit Withdrawal Agreement may lead to Theresa May’s downfall (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou

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The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been published and as many predicted, including Nigel Farage, the document is leading to the collapse of Theresa May’s government.

During an interview with iTV’s Piers Morgan, remain’s Alistair Campell and leave’s Nigel Farage, were calling May’s Brexit deal a complete disaster.

Via iTV

Alastair Campbell: “This doesn’t do remotely what was offered…what is the point”

“Parliament is at an impasse”

“We have to go back to the people” …”remain has to be on the ballot paper”

Nigel Farage:

“This is the worst deal in history. We are giving away in excess of 40B pounds in return for precisely nothing. Trapped still inside the European Union’s rulebook.

“Nothing has been achieved.”

“In any negotiation in life…the other side need to know that you are serious about walking away.”

“What monsieur Barnier knew from day one, is that at no point did Theresa May intend to walk away.”

“Fundamental matter of trust to the electors of our country and those who govern us.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and why the deal is a full on victory for the European Union and a document of subjugation for the United Kingdom.

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Coming in at 585 pages, the draft agreement will be closely scrutinized over the coming days but here are some of the highlights as outlined by Zerohedge

  • UK and EU to use the best endeavours to supersede Ireland protocol by 2020
  • UK can request extension of the transition period any time before July 1st, 2020
  • EU, UK See Level-Playing Field Measures in Future Relationship
  • Transition period may be extended once up to date yet to be specified in the text
  • EU and UK shall establish single customs territory and Northern Ireland is in same customs territory as Great Britain

The future relationship document is less than seven pages long. It says the U.K. and EU are seeking a free-trade area with cooperation on customs and rules: “Comprehensive arrangements creating a free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition.”

The wording might raise concerns among Brexiters who don’t want regulatory cooperation and the measures on fair competition could amount to shackling the U.K. to EU rules.

As Bloomberg’s Emma Ross-Thomas writes, “There’s a clear sense in the documents that we’re heading for a customs union in all but name. Firstly via the Irish backstop, and then via the future relationship.”

Separately, a government summary of the draft agreement suggests role for parliament in deciding whether to extend the transition or to move in to the backstop.

But perhaps most importantly, regarding the controversial issue of the Irish border, the future relationship document says both sides aim to replace the so-called backstop – the thorniest issue in the negotiations – with a “subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.”

On this topic, recall that the U.K.’s fear was of being locked into the backstop arrangement indefinitely in the absence of a broader trade deal. The draft agreement includes a review process to try to give reassurance that the backstop would never be needed. Basically, the U.K. could choose to seek an extension to the transition period – where rules stay the same as they are currently – or opt to trigger the backstop conditions. In fact, as Bloomberg notes, the word “backstop,” which has been a sticking point over the Irish border for weeks, is mentioned only once in the text.

As Bloomberg further adds, the withdrawal agreement makes clear that the U.K. will remain in a single customs area with the EU until there’s a solution reached on the Irish border. It’s what Brexiteers hate, because it makes it more difficult for the U.K. to sign its own free-trade deals, which they regard as a key prize of Brexit.

Predictably, EU Commission President Juncker said decisive progress has been made in negotiations.

Meanwhile, as analysts comb over the documents, Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, has already written to Conservative lawmakers urging them to vote against the deal. He says:

  • May is handing over money for “little or nothing in return”
  • The agreement treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the U.K.
  • It will “lock” the U.K. into a customs union with the EU
  • It breaks the Tory election manifesto of 2017

The full document…

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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