Daily Briefing: IS TURKEY CULTIVATING WAR? (June 18,2020)

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 27JAN06 – Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey captured during the session ‘The New Comparative Advantages’ at the Annual Meeting 2006 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 27, 2006. (Source:Wikipedia)

Table of Contents:

Sovereignty Bid Will Cause another Crisis in Israel-Turkey Relations,’ Expert Warns: Ran Puni, Israel Hayom, June 14, 2020

A Cold War is Brewing in Jerusalem Between Turkey and an Israel-Saudi Alliance: Dr. Ahmed Al-Burai, MEMO, June 10, 2020

America Must Act In Libya against Turkey, Russia:  Eric Edelman and Charles Wald, Breaking Defense, June 08, 2020

Inside the Pro-Iran and ‘Islamic’ Worldview of Turkey’s Foreign Minister:  Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, June 17, 2020


Sovereignty Bid Will Cause another Crisis in Israel-Turkey Relations,’ Expert Warns
Ran Puni
Israel Hayom, June 14, 2020
A decade has passed since Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish Mavi Marmara, which was part of a flotilla en route to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, resulting in the deaths of nine Turkish activists and an unprecedented diplomatic crisis for Israel and Turkey.
Dr. Gallia Lindenstrauss, an expert in Turkish foreign policy and a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, sat down with Israel Hayom to discuss relations between Jerusalem and Ankara over the past 10 years in light of the Marmara raid, the Iranian nuclear crisis, the discovery of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean, and the Palestinian issue.
Q: In recent weeks, the Turkish media has been talking about attempts to thaw relations between Turkey and Israel. 10 years after the Mavi Marmara incident, do the Turks really want a more balanced foreign policy?
“It’s clear to both countries that relations won’t return to the honeymoon of the 1990s. Many people are saying now that that ‘honeymoon’ was unusual in and of itself. I see reports of approaching normalization as overblown.”
Q: But there are positive signs.
“Correct. One is that at the height of the coronavirus crisis, the Turks allowed the export of medical aid to Israel, which required approval from [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan. The second – an El Al cargo plane landed in Turkey and, interestingly, then transferred some of its cargo to the US. Why would an El Al plane fly to Turkey, then to the US? It’s a little awkward, to say the least. It is a testament to the traditional view that Israel has a lot of influence in Washington … An [Israeli] plane hasn’t landed in Turkey for a decade because the Turks refused to have Israeli security personnel in their territory … Another event that attracted attention in Turkey came when the head of the [Israeli] embassy in Ankara wrote an article saying that despite the lack of agreement between the two countries, there was no reason for them not to have ambassadors.
Q: Isn’t there?
“After the Marmara incident, Turkey made three conditions for restoring normal relations with Israel: An apology, compensation, and the removal of the blockade on the Gaza Strip. However, after the riots on the Gaza border started in 2018, Turkey sent the Israeli ambassador in Ankara to hold consultations in Israel, which comprised an attempt to demonstrate disapproval without creating too serious a crisis.”
“But since 2018, it’s been unclear what needs to be done to reinstate the ambassadors. No conditions have been made, and there is nothing preventing their return. The question of why there aren’t ambassadors in Tel Aviv and Ankara is always in the air. But in the end, I think that the main reason we’re hearing about normalization and renewed relations has to do with the new government in Israel. We were in an ongoing political crisis, and foreign players don’t know how to deal with us.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

A Cold War is Brewing in Jerusalem Between Turkey and an Israel-Saudi Alliance 
Dr. Ahmed Al-Burai
MEMO, June 10, 2020
Back in 2017, two Israeli advisors to the Jerusalem Municipality, David Koren and Ben Avrahami, shared their concerns about Turkey’s increasingly visible role in the Holy City. These two figures oversee all of the municipality’s interactions with Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem. They are fully aware of the fine details of the incongruous interests, discrepancies and tensions among all segments of the local population.
Their article, “Eastern Jerusalem Arabs between Erdogan and Israel” was a wake-up call for Israeli decision makers regarding what they called “countervailing toxic trends in Jerusalem” and a warning about the symbolism of the Turkish flags flying across East Jerusalem and, especially, on what Israelis call the “Temple Mount”, the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa. They argued that the Turkish presence is intended to weaken Israel’s hold on the city. Hence, Koren and Avrahami recommended Israel to shield itself by not only limiting the Turkish presence but also by thwarting the “Turkish incursion to Jerusalem”. Since then, Israel has reportedly spared no effort in developing plans to obstruct the Turkish presence in Al-Aqsa and East Jerusalem.
Interestingly, media reports have revealed discussions between Israel and Saudi Arabia about limiting the role of Ankara in Palestinian affairs and replacing it with Riyadh. The two now apparently friendly states have recently held secret talks to discuss having Saudi representatives in the management of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, which is currently under the custodianship of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
There is no doubt that US President Donald Trump’s foreign policy decisions have started yet another phase in the Middle East’s most chronic conflict in Israel-Palestine. The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating the US Embassy to the city was definitely a game changer. It brought an ancient rivalry to the forefront of the Muslim world: the custodianship of the third holiest site in Islam after Makkah and Madinah, Al-Aqsa Mosque Sanctuary.
As the custodian of the holy sites in occupied Jerusalem, King Abdullah II of Jordan discovered last year that he faced pressure to change his position regarding the status of the sites. Interestingly, King Mohammed VI of Morocco announced an enormous grant for the refurbishment of Al-Aqsa Mosque and its compound. Turkey is increasing its presence in the city. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

America Must Act In Libya against Turkey, Russia
Eric Edelman and Charles Wald
Breaking Defense, June 08, 2020
Turkey’s recent intervention in Libya is intensifying a proxy war and regional energy competition that threaten vital U.S. interests, while Washington mostly observes from the sidelines.
As fighting grows in the Mediterranean country, the United States urgently needs to assume an overdue leadership role to end or mitigate this spiraling conflict.
The time has come for the United States to assert a crucial leadership role in addressing the Libyan conflict and forestalling Turkish and Russian influence over this strategically-located, energy-rich country on Europe’s doorstep.
Fundamentally, the Eastern Mediterranean must once again become a critical focus for U.S. grand strategy. An enhanced U.S. naval presence in the region and stronger defense cooperation with Greece would be tangible demonstrations, and could help balance Turkey’s aggressive projection of power.
The United States also must appoint a Special Envoy for the Eastern Mediterranean. He or she should work with the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum of pro-U.S. countries in the region to develop major recent energy discoveries and create a counterweight to Turkey’s own disruptive offshore claims.
An envoy also should lead diplomatic efforts on a negotiated solution to end or mitigate the Libya conflict and establish a non-Islamist regime that serves Libyan national interests. A viable settlement would have to tackle the military drivers of instability, first and foremost the Turkish and Russian interventions that have intensified the violence over the past year. To the extent possible, the United States should convince fellow NATO members to adopt a unified approach in supporting a negotiated solution.
America’s current backbench approach to Libya reflects a broader lack of strategic focus on the region since the end of the Cold War. Significant geopolitical realignments are underway that demand renewed attention.
The region is home to major offshore energy discoveries, and is a main artery for mass migration to Europe and other areas. High-stakes geopolitical rivalry has returned with Moscow’s permanent presence in Syria and growing influence in Libya – including its recent deployment of warplanes to that country.
The profound transformation of Turkey’s strategic posture under President Erdogan is another factor. Once a reliable ally, Ankara’s gunboat diplomacy, support for the Muslim Brotherhood and increasingly close relations with Russia put it increasingly at odds with traditional partners like the United States, Europe, Israel and Egypt. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.[

Inside the Pro-Iran and ‘Islamic’ Worldview of Turkey’s Foreign Minister
Seth J. Frantzman
Jerusalem Post, June 17, 2020
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was all smiles greeting his Iranian counterpart on Monday. He called Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran “my brother” and tweeted lovingly about the hope for increased relations between Ankara and Tehran. He said Zarif’s was his first meeting in the “new normal” of the COVID-19 era.
Turkey and Iran are signing a memorandum of understanding on diplomatic and consular premises. Ankara stands against the Trump administration’s “unilateral sanctions on Iran” and the foreign minister said that the pandemic shows why the two countries must cooperate and have solidarity.
Cavusoglu’s comments pour cold water on the theory that some US diplomats and commentators have put forward that see Turkey as a NATO partner that will join |America to work against Iran.

Today, Turkey and Iran are increasingly becoming allies. This alliance is partly about their shared worldviews, which are rooted in political Islam. Turkey’s AK Party has origins in the Muslim Brotherhood, while Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979 turned the country into a theocracy. The guardians of Iran’s Islamist revolution, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, held a secret meeting in Turkey in 2014 to coordinate policy against Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the two other major Islamic countries in the region that they are hostile to.
At the center of the worldview advanced by Turkey is the foreign minister and his attempts to portray some Islamic countries and people as “brothers” while sidelining or denigrating other countries. For instance, Pakistan gets the “brother” treatment, as do Kosovo, Somalia, Palestinians, Qatar, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Sudan, Oman, Azerbaijan and Serbia. Serbia appears to be the only non-Muslim country whose foreign minister he saw as a “brother.”
WHY IS Turkey hostile to Egypt and the Saudis? Egypt, where al-Azhar University is situated – the center of Sunni Islamic-learning – and Saudi Arabia, the home of Mecca, are key parts of the Muslim world, but they are not currently linked to the Brotherhood. This is an important and complex distinction. Suffice it to say that regimes such as Turkey’s, or Doha in Qatar and Hamas in Gaza, have a shared worldview that transcends myths about historical competition between the Ottomans and Persians, or between Sunnis and Shi’ites. …. [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

For Further Reference:

Ankara Cultivates War: Al-Ahram Weekly Editorial , Ahramonline, June 17,  2020 — To anyone following developments in Libya it is obvious that Turkey has gone on the rampage, unrestrained by the US, influential powers in NATO, the EU and needless to say, the UN.
Turkey Vows to Mobilize ‘Islamic Ummah’ Against Israel’s Annexation: Seth J. Frantzman ,Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2020 — Turkey’s Minister of Religious Affairs Ali Erbas vowed over the weekend that “our struggle will continue until Jerusalem is completely free.”
Turkey Drew up Plans to Invade Greece and Armenia – Secret DocumentsJerusalem Post Staff, June 16, 2020 — Turkey developed a plan for a possible invasion of Greece named after an 11th century Turkish military commander, Nordic Monitor reported citing secret documents.
 Amb. W. Robert Pearson on the “Imperial Ambitions” of Erdoğan’s Turkey in Libya:  Marilyn Stern, Middle East Forum Radio, June 14, 2020 — Amb. W. Robert Pearson, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey (2000-2003) and director general of the U.S. Foreign Service (2002-2006), spoke to Middle East Forum Radio host Gregg Roman on June 10 about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s “imperial ambitions” in Libya.
Are China, Russia, Iran & Turkey Exploiting The ‘Collapse of the US’ Amid Violent Riots & COVID-19 Pandemic?:  Eurasian Times Desk, June 10, 2020 — The United States has enjoyed the position of the global superpower ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its satellite states in 1989. Since then, countries such as Iran, Russia, China and Turkey have on lurking in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment to strike i.e. when the US is at its weakest.
 Ready For War: Turkey Sends Powerful Message to Egypt, Greece in Massive Military Exercise AMN, June 13, 2020 — The Turkish Ministry of Defense announced in a statement issued on Friday that the maneuvers were held in international waters in the Mediterranean, with the participation of units of the leaders of the Air Force and the Navy, and were run from operations centers in Turkey.