Palestinian-American journalist, author and former Al-Jazeera
producer, Ramzy Baroud taught Mass Communication at Australia's Curtin
University of Technology, and is Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine
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was made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a recent
speech, following the deadly commando raid on the humanitarian aid
flotilla to Gaza on May 31. According to Erdogan, Israel doesn’t adhere
to the code of conduct embraced even by the vilest of criminals.
statement alone indicates the momentous political shift that’s currently
underway in the Middle East. While the shift isn’t entirely new, one
dares to claim it might now be a lasting one. To borrow from Erdogan’s
own assessment of the political fallout that followed Israel’s raid, the
damage is “irreparable.”
analyses have emerged in the wake of the long-planned and calculated
Israeli attack on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, which claimed the
lives of nine, mostly Turkish peace activists.
“Turkey’s Strategic U-Turn, Israel’s Tactical Mistakes,” published in
the Israeli daily Haaretz, Ofra Bengio suggested Turkey’s position was
purely strategic. But he also chastised Israel for driving Turkey
further and faster “toward the Arab and Muslim worlds.”
week’s Zaman, a Turkish publication, Bulent Kenes wrote: “As a result of
the Davos (where the Turkish prime minister stormed out of a televised
discussion with Israeli President Shimon Peres, after accusing him and
Israel of murder), the myth that Israel is untouchable was destroyed by
Erdogan, and because of that Israel nurses a hatred for Turkey.”
the Davos incident is significant not because it demonstrates that
Israel can be criticized, but rather because it was Turkey — and not any
other easily dismissible party — that dared to voice such criticism.
the Financial Times under the title, “Erdogan turns to face East in a
delicate balancing act,” David Gardner places Turkey’s political turn
within a European context. He sums up that thought in a quote uttered by
no other than Robert Gates, US defense secretary: “If there is anything
to the notion that Turkey is moving Eastward, it is in no small part
because it was pushed, and pushed by some in Europe refusing to give
Turkey the kind of organic link to the West that Turkey sought.” But
what many analysts missed was the larger political and historical
context, not only as pertaining to Israel and Turkey, but to the whole
region and all its players, including the US itself. Only this context
can help us understand the logic behind Israel’s seemingly erratic
Israeli leaders appeared very confident. A group of neoconservative
American politicians had laid out a road map for Israel to ensure
complete dominance over the Middle East. In the document entitled, “A
Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” Turkey was
mentioned four times. Each reference envisaged the country as a tool to
“contain, destabilize, and roll back some of .. (the) most dangerous
threats” to Israel. That very “vision” in fact served as the backbone of
the larger strategy used by the US, as it carried out its heedless
military adventures in the Middle East.
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by the American failure to reshape the region and unquestioningly
eliminate anything and everything that Israel might perceive as a
threat, Israel took matters into its own hands. However, in 2006 and
between 2008 and 2009, it was up for major surprises. Superior firepower
doesn’t guarantee military victory. More, while Israel had once more
demonstrated its capacity to inflict untold damage on people and
infrastructure, the Israeli weapon was no longer strategically
effective. In other words, Israel’s military advantage could no longer
translate into political gains, and this was a game-changer.
many issues the Israeli leadership has had to wrangle with in recent
years. The US, Israel’s most faithful benefactor, is now on a crisis
management mode in Iraq and Afghanistan, struggling on all fronts,
whether political, military or economic. That recoil has further
emboldened Israel’s enemies, who are no longer intimidated by the
American bogyman. Israel’s desperate attempt at using its own military
to achieve its grand objectives has also failed, and miserably so.
options growing even more limited, Israel now understands that Gaza is
its last card; ending the siege or ceasing the killings could be
understood as another indication of political weakness, a risk that
Israel is not ready to take.
the other hand, was fighting — and mostly winning — its own battles.
Democracy in Turkey has never been as healthy and meaningful as it is
today. Turkey has also eased its chase of the proverbial dangling
carrot, of EU membership, especially considering the arrogant attitude
of some EU members who perceive Turkey as too large and too Muslim to be
trusted. Turkey needed new platforms, new options and a more diverse
is where many analysts went wrong. Turkey’s popular government has not
entered the Middle Eastern political foray to pick fights. On the
contrary, the Turkish government has for years been trying to get
involved as a peacemaker, a mediator between various parties. So, yes,
Turkey’s political shift was largely strategic, but it was not
uninvited Turkish involvement, however, is highly irritating to Israel.
Turkey’s approach to its new role grew agitating to Israel when the role
wasn’t confined to being that of the host — in indirect talks between
Syria and Israel, for example. Instead, Turkey began to take
increasingly solid and determined political stances. Thus the Davos
participating at such a high capacity in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, with
firm intentions of breaking the siege, Turkey was escalating its
involvement well beyond Israel’s comfort zone. Therefore, Israel needed a
decisive response that would send a message to Turkey — and any daring
other — about crossing the line of what is and is not acceptable. It’s
ironic how the neoconservatives’ “A Clean Break” envisaged an Israeli
violation of the political and geographic boundaries of its neighbors,
with the help of Turkey. Yet, 14 years later, it was Turkey, with
representatives from 32 other countries, which came with a peaceful
armada to breach what Israel perceived as its own political domain.
Israeli response, as bloody as it was, can only be understood within
this larger context. Erdogan’s statements and the popular support his
government enjoys show that Turkey has decided to take on the Israeli
challenge. The US government was exposed as ineffectual and hostage to
the failing Israeli agenda in the region, thanks to the lobby.
Ironically it is now the neoconservatives who are leading the charge
against Turkey, the very country they had hoped would become Israel’s
willing ally in its apocalyptic vision.
Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net)
is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of
PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom
Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), now available on
Amazon.com. Visit his website: www.ramzybaroud.net.
Press TV: Former Mayor of London Ken
Livingstone hosts an exciting discussion on Ramzy Baroud's book: My
Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story with authors Dr. Ghada
Karmi and Ben White. Watch: Part I, Part II, Part III.
Aljazeera: Also watch a
short documentary about the book (published by Pluto Press; Palgrave
Macmillan, 2010). The subtitled program is available at YouTube in two
parts: Part I & Part II.
Film: Then, check out this short promo (in English
about the book.
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