Monday, November 04, 2013

Israel, Turkey and Syria

Israel has an established and public policy not to allow high-end munitions to be transferred from Syria to Hizbollah in Lebanon. As the Syrian regime of Pres. Assad comes under more and more fire from the inusurgents it has taken to trucking some of its assets over the Lebanese border to Hizbollah. Last week there was an attack against an air base near Latakia in north-east Syria that destroyed a large cache of missiles in huge explosions. There were various reports about how this attack took place and it was revealed by the US State Dept. that this was due to an IAF air strike. They reported this as a matter of fact, although it might have been because they were miffed that Israel carried out this attack on the same day that is was announced that all the facilties for the production of chemical weapons in Syria had been destroyed by the UN Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons under the agreement between the US and Russia that was ratifed in Security Council Resolution 2118. However, this does not yet include the destruction of the actual CW products that Syria still holds, the largest such hoard in the world.

In Istanbul, there was a public celebration of the opening of a train tunnel from the European side to the Asian side of the Turkish city. This fulfils a dream that the Turks have always had to cement their hold on the European side of Turkey to their Asian mainland. It is not coincidence that this very expensive project has been completed during the the term of PM Erdogan, whose AK party is a so-called "moderate" Islamist party. Erdogan has had anti-Israel policies for years now, especially since the Mavi Marmara incident when the Turkish ship tried to break the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza. This anti-Israel policy and this tunnel are both manifestations of Erdogan's drive to re-establish Turkey as a major inhfluential power in the Arab and the wider Islamic world. So far he has not had much success in this, since the Arabs well remember the repressive imperial control Turkey once exercised over them. But, being anti-Israel is a good way to appease the Arabs. In a recent move that indicated the degree to which Erdogan is willing to go, it was revealed that the Turkish Security Minister had passed the names of Iranian spies for Israel who had met their Israeli handlers in Turkey on to the Iranian authorities. Presumably they were all arrested, tortured and executed. I suggest in response that Israel should reveal the names of Turkish spies it knows in Greece to the Greek government, with which Israel now has friendly relations.

Ironically, Israel and Turkey, as well as the Sunni Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Gulf States, have parallel interests in seeing that Assad is defeated in order to reduce the influence of Iran in the region. So far Assad has not responded to any Israeli attacks against military convoys destined for Hizbollah and his responses against Turkish support for the insurgents has been very limited. It would be a strange situation if Israel and Turkey found themselves on the same side actually fighting in Syria against the Assad regime, but stranger things have happened.


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