Ongoing geopolitically intense situation in the Middle-East impacts global geopolitics as well. The big powers take different actions one after another. In this context, the official Washington noted the need to re-establish cooperation between Israel and Turkey. According to the experts, this is underpinned by significant geopolitical factors. Different commentaries are suggested. One thing they all have in common is that, Ankara and Tel-Aviv need to ensure regional geopolitical balance, in the capacity of key players in the region. With many contradictions still persisting, the implementation mechanism is yet unclear however.
Point of Geopolitical Combination: U.S. Conciliates Its Allies
Barack Obama has issued a message to both Ankara and Tel-Aviv, expressing Washington’s wish to see normalization of relations between the two. Experts believe this request made by the White House has important motives. This is not just about overall change of the situation in the Middle East but also about crucial role played by the global interests of the West. Indeed, Israel-Turkey relations are gravelly exacerbated. ”Mavi Marmara” incident is still fresh in the memories. As of then, America’s two allies in the region have lashed out at each other with mutual accusation.
Official Ankara demanded compensation from Tel-Aviv for the assassination of 9 Turkish citizens in the aforementioned incident. Furthermore, it demanded official apology from Israel and cessation to the siege of Gaza. It was at Barack Obama’s request that Israeli PM Netanyahu had indeed apologized to Ankara. Media also reported that both sides were close to reaching a deal on compensation issue but A. Lieberman’s return to the Foreign Minister post changed many things.
Lieberman publically said that he saw no further need for friendship with Turkey. He went on to say that Israel has good ties with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and other Muslim states (see: Пётр Люкимсон. Израиль-Турция: США решили вмешаться / “Вестник Кавказа”, February 21, 2014). Experts argue that failure to even mention Turkey signifies lack of interest in cooperation with the former. This assertion is difficult to agree with because quite of few of the nations cited by Lieberman enjoy good ties with Turkey. Thus, it would be naive to think that these countries would pursue their agenda at the behest of Tel-Aviv. In the meantime, given the reality, Israel-Turkey relations are associated with many factors.
In this context, developments in the Middle East have to be compared with the changes in the global geopolitics. Therefore, Obama’s message of “reconciliation” issued to Israel and Turkey in February was not really incidental. Experts agree that America’s attention attached to the issue is attributed largely to the events in Syria. Export of terrorism is a threat emanating from this very nation. And this troubles the U.S. (see previous source) because, according to the analysts, America’s allies in the region would be the first to bear the brunt. This trend is coupled with many risks in terms of Washington’s interests. Even the Saudi Arabia decided to act in combating terrorism. Riyadh announced tough punitive measures against those opting to fight in Syria. These individuals would face jail terms and hefty fines (see: Виктор Михин.Саудовская Аравия: изменение внешней политики? / “Новое Восточное Обозрение”, February 28, 2014). According to Syria’s ”Al-Watan” newspaper, diplomatic quarters close to Riyadh stress that, wary of the spread of terrorism in the country, Saudi Arabia is revisiting its Syria policy (see: Асгар Юсефи.Саудовская Аравия: смена стратегии или кадровая перестановка? / “İnosmi.ru”, February 28, 2014).
London’s ”Al-Guds Al-Arabi” newspaper reported that ”Change of former positions by Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia (with respect to Syria- Newtimes.az) indicate they no longer bid on terrorist groups” (see: previous source).
Terror ”Winds” of ”Arab Spring”: Alarm in Backyard
Arab mass media is reporting on the gradual return of the fighters in Syria to their home countries. Therefore, the persistent idea is that wave of terrorism in the Middle East is likely to engulf greater geographic spaces. Washington’s uneasiness in this regard is not unfounded.
Nonetheless, reality on the ground is not limited to this issue. There are three major factors that compel the U.S. to restore Israel-Turkey exchange. First – deepening contradictions within the Gulf Cooperation Council. Second – exacerbation of the situation around Ukraine. Third – skeptical predictions regarding the future of the European Union, including remarks of the George Soros that cannot but concern Washington and Brussels.
Serious differences among the member states have surfaced during the recent meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Saudi Arabia aspires to transform this organization into a union, while Oman, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait object this. These nations oppose Riyadh’s sole leadership. And this is the very geopolitical motive behind Saudi Arabia’s efforts. Developments in Syria, Iraq and Egypt have spurred the process. The U.S. and Israel are not at all happy about this because then, the Arabs could stand as the united front.
Another stumbling block within the GCC is the UAE and Oman, seeking closer cooperation with Iran. This is a frightening prospect for Saudi Arabia, in light of the common understanding on Iran’s nuclear program among the U.S., Europe, Russia and China. Iran’s regional relevance is growing and this may enable U.S.-Iran rapprochement. For now, this issue has been set aside owing to the situation around Ukraine, but sometime down the road, the tremors of the new process might be jolting the Middle East.
Apparently, Washington eschews the consequences of the ”Arab Spring” and thus, may designate the Israel-Turkey duo as a deterrent against leadership aspirations of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and the UAE; to establish a geopolitical balance in the region, to be precise.
Rising tensions around Ukraine has turned the Middle East into a ”backyard”. Now, Russia and the West aim to ”slow down”, to ”decelerate” the processes here. On top of that, solidification of allies’ positions there may come handy in the future. This is why Obama needs Israel-Turkey re-engagement.
“The prospect of long period of stagnation (for the European Union – Newtimez.az) has not been removed”, these words of George Soros must trouble the West (see: George Soros. It is time to stand up for the European Union / “Financial Times”, 13 mart 2014). Alliances have to be rigid for to be able to wage a geopolitical struggle in several directions. Ukraine issue overshadowed internal frictions within the EU in this sense.
Today the resources of the organization are mobilized to confront the threat at its doorstep. Nevertheless, the future of the EU is uncertain and Russia’s cooperation with the developing nations may produce negative outcome for the West. Israel and Turkey drifting towards Moscow could also provoke serious problems. Thus ”conjoining” these two nations by one geopolitical line would preclude many future constraints from becoming a reality.
Thus, Obama’s request to Ankara and Tel-Aviv is very valid. In the meantime, admittedly, geopolitical dynamics in the region and its immediate neighborhood are changing rapidly. Under these circumstances, decisions to be made by Israel and Turkey are difficult to predict. Experts believe outcome of the elections in Turkey is well-anticipated in this regard. There are still number of blurred aspects. Run-up to the elections has been controversial and intense. We may expect surprises.