World, As Seen from the most beautiful islands: Ireland and Cyprus

Turkish-Israeli relations and the Cyprus question


One of the reasons why observers do not completely ignore an improvement in relations is that Turkey and Israel have a long history of cooperation. Turkey was the first Muslim-majority country to recognize Israel, and did so in March 1949. While the initial Turkish rapprochement was inspired by the desire to gain favor in Washington and gain support for its NATO membership, Ankara and Tel Aviv soon realized mutual benefits from strengthening ties. Economically, Israel had access to crucial agricultural raw materials produced throughout Anatolia, while Turkey secured essential imports of Israeli finished products and technology, as well as valuable knowledge in agriculture and irrigation.

At the same time, Turkey and Israel sought to take advantage of each other’s considerable intelligence and military capabilities. In 1958, when Gamal Abdel Nasser’s United Arab Republic reached both borders, Ankara and Tel Aviv agreed to the highly secret Phantom Pact. The agreement, also known as the peripheral alliance, ushered in an era of unprecedented security cooperation. Turkey and Israel together sought to counter Soviet expansionism, Arab nationalism, Islamism and terrorism.

The Phantom Pact era had generated strong, pro-Israel sympathies within the Turkish Armed Forces, which enjoyed complete control over decisions in Ankara throughout the 1990s. Turkish generals and diplomats took advantage of a transformed regional calculation – with the Arab world in disarray after the Gulf War and Tel Aviv now actively in contact with the Palestinians – to openly engage with their Israeli counterparts.

To gain the upper hand in its armed conflict with the Kurdish Workers ‘ Party (PKK), Ankara quickly entered into a number of security cooperation agreements with Israel, which involved the transfer of military technology, intelligence sharing, and counter-terrorism training. These were formally enshrined in the Turkey-Israel Defense Agreement of 1996. This prompted Ankara to purchase a significant number of weapons and technology upgrades from Israeli companies, spending more than €2 billion over the following decade. The reason this ‘peripheral alliance’ was revived was also motivated by the fact that both Israel and Turkey wanted to prove their geostrategic value. After the Cold War, the United States became increasingly important in the Middle East, and both countries very clearly sided with the Americans. Viewed from the other side, Washington shared the desire with Ankara and Tel Aviv to curb regional influence of hostile regimes in Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran. This wish still exists in 2022, but now with less support from America.

In her webinar for CIDI, Professor Ofra Bengio (Moshe Dayan Centre) acknowledges the warm ties at the beginning, but also points out the cause of the change: “Erdoğan and his party developed strong ties with the Muslim Brotherhood over time in various countries in the region, such as in Egypt, the Emirates and, of course, in the Gaza Strip with Hamas. For the Muslim Brotherhood, Israel has no right to exist. The more Erdoğan moved with the Muslim Brotherhood, the more there was a need to distance himself from Israel. We can see that this is the cause of the radicalization against Israel. Prof. Bengio goes on to state “”the other major cause that badly affected relations is the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

However, the expanded cooperation between Turkey and Israel did not appear to be up to external pressure, namely Turkey’s desire to gain Arab support for its position in the Cyprus conflict, increasing dependence on Arab oil, interest in expanding its exports to Arab markets, and burgeoning domestic opposition to Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians. In 1966 Ankara’s relations with Israel were dead at the lowest level, because of a sea of pro-Palestinian foreign policy. This culminated in the recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1974 and a vote to support a UN resolution equating Zionism with racism the following year.

And Turkish-Israeli cooperation-which extended to areas such as trade, transportation, energy, tourism, agriculture, education, construction and science – lasted until the late 2000s, when then Prime Minister Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (Turkish: Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) began to take a tougher stance on Israel’s control methods in the Palestinian Territories. In 2010, Israeli soldiers killed a number of Turkish activists, who were given the names of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and a large number of people were given the opportunity to try the blockade of Tel Aviv from the Gaza Strip. However, in 2011, due to a UN report on the incident, the diplomatic relations were drastically disrupted, and they were blocked.

Avi Melamed (Inside Middle East) compares Turkey’s regional aspirations to Iran in his CIDI webinar: “in Parallel with the growing Iranian threat in the region, Turkey, led by Erdoğan, expanded its influence. This was possible due to the disorder in many Arab countries at the time. Like the Iranians, Turkey played ” the Palestinian card.””Unlike Iran, Erdoğan wanted to stand up as a leader for the Sunni Muslims. Melamed wrote in a webinar about the Turkish military and diplomacy in Senegal that he died expanding Somalia.

Melamed: “As far as Iran is concerned, the Palestinian people are ‘angry’, and the Turkish people are angry and angry. (… Erdoğan is siding with Hamas in their fight against Israel, gaining popularity not only at home, but throughout the region. The story of the Gaza Strip turned out to be a very important card that both Turkey and Iran play, precisely because many Muslims are familiar with the Palestinian freedom struggle. Both Khomenei and Erdoğan choose the Palestinians to get their hands on each other in the Arab world and in this way also ensure that their actions were no longer viewed with argumentative eyes. Indeed, over time, it turned out that this strategic positioning of both Iran and Turkey helped for its own hegemonic aspirations in the Muslim world.”
Economics and culture over hegemony?

Despite this long-standing diplomatic deadlock, many analysts still believe that rapprochement for both sides is interesting. A number of political scientists want to end up with a common concern about the exploitation of natural gas in the Middle of the country and because of the lack of stability over the borders in Syria. They recently came together to provide Azerbaijan with logistical, technical and operational support during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. Other analysts point to strong collaborations when it comes to transport and tourism, with Turkish Airlines being the most popular foreign airline in Israel. At the same time, economic cooperation has remained unaffected by the deterioration of bilateral relations, with trade levels skyrocketing from almost €4 billion in 2008 to €6.5 billion in 2020.

The cultural ties between both countries are often overlooked. More than 75,000 Israeli citizens are of Turkish-Jewish descent and remain strongly attached to Anatolia. Israelis generally have a strong appreciation for Turkish cuisine, the typical Turkish soap operas and Turkish seaside resorts. Across the Mediterranean, there are over 15,000 Yods who still call Turkey home. Sephardic traditions, histories and cultural contributions are gaining more and more national prominence in the country thanks to projects such as Netflix’s “Külüp” and the Izmir Jewish Heritage Project.

While these bands are undoubtedly less influential than the concerns of realpolitik, they always have a solid foundation laid for warm bands. We can’t help you to change the way you like it, because the cultural connections have been made and the policy has been changed. Most of the momentum came fully died in december when president Erdoğan met with other members of the Sephardic clergy in Turkey and other regional Jewish leaders for Hanukkah. All the analysts, like Nazlan Ertan, a journalist from Izmir who has written about the Turkish politics and culture and has written about the Sephardic community in this country, are interpreting it as a signal to officials in Israel. Ertan told the FPRI that ” Erdoğan is trying to ‘balance‘ his attacks on Israel with good ties to the Jewish community in Turkey”, noting that “his involvement with the group, and his repeated vows to fight anti-Semitism, are always of symbolic importance to the Turkish Israeli gangs”.
Anti-Zionism is doing well in Turkey

Erdoğan’s true opinion on such ties will be clarified in the next eighteen months: the next presidential elections in Turkey are scheduled for June 18, 2023 (although they may have been shifted to an earlier date). Not as in other democracies during election season, the foreign policy decisions of incumbent leaders are dictated by “what it does right” among their own electorate. This is not different for Erdoğan and the AKP. This effect is not yet announced in Turkey, due to a controversial referendum in 2017, the president of the country will make a final decision that will not be effective. There are many changes that will be made later, and the Turkish foreign policy will be offended by Erdoğan’s own impulses rather than the recommendations of the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

In the short term, this policy structure poses serious obstacles to Turkish-Israeli rapprochement. With the past, the past has been a long time ago, and the past has been a long time ago, and the past has been a long time ago, and the future has been a long time ago, and the current term has been a long time since then, and it has been possible to reduce the popularity of the. One of the most important things about Israel is that it is risky for you, because Erdoğan’s career has opened the door to make anti-zionist comment and retains broad support for his scathing condemnations of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians. As Ertan notes, ” Israel was an easy target for Erdoğan – not only because of the rather pronounced anti-Semitism of his power base, but also because of the pro-Palestinian tradition of left-Turkey“” Now a large number of Arab states are concerned with the normalization of relations with Israel, the president’s continued solidarity with the ‘Palestinian cause’has only strengthened his reputation among such voters.

Despite the possible costs, Erdoğan can still determine that rapprochement brings significant benefits, namely the ability to improve his position in Washington. The door is closed to all banks and investors who are able to manage their investments in the economic management of the Turkish economy. In return, the president appeared to be concerned about the relationship with Hamas. This relationship is a crucial point of contention with Tel Aviv, which believes the fundamentalist Palestinian group is using its offices in Istanbul to organize attacks on Israeli territory. Because of the current state of affairs, it is possible to suffer from the current ACP voters defecting to opposition, the vast majority of Erdoğan’s base is more concerned about the current economic crisis in Turkey. “The summer months can be a great time for us to work together in the right way to change the dead Israel and the closing of the Hamas movement, because we have a lot of problems for Erdoğan.”This is the reason why the president of the United States has already announced that he has decided in favor of Egypt, which he has repeatedly protested.
Israel’s indecision

Israeli Prime minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid have been appointed as Erdoğan. The city of Ankara is located on the inland part of the country. The two Israeli leaders share a history of supporting anti-Turkish offend; both bankrupt for their ties with Greece and Cyprus, and for their actions in the Knesset to acknowledge the Armenian genocide (this is especially true of Lapid). So they will have to make a turn.

Written by: Liam O'Reilly

Liam O'Reilly is the founder of the publication, a former analyst at a major reputation agency in the UK, who chose Cyprus as his home.

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