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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Davutoglu's dreamin'

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said that Israel is 'trembling' and 'on its knees' before Turkey. Ehud Toeldano, a Turkish scholar in Israel, says Davutoglu is dreaming.
Anybody reading these two statements, and a number of related ones in between, must wonder what is going through the mind of these two prominent Turkish leaders. For almost all observers of events in the region over the past few months, such talk raises serious doubts as to how realities are perceived from Ankara these days. I wonder if anyone watching the eastern Mediterranean has seen Israel either “trembling” or “on its knees” facing a mighty Turkish power, as the following questions suggest:

How has that small, poor and weak country managed to still refuse even to apologize to Turkey, let alone pay compensation or lift the Gaza blockade? How, we may ask, has a helpless country such as Israel continued full-speed to develop its newly discovered gas fields in cooperation with Cyprus and Greece? And how, with all its trembling and kneeling, has that technologically backward country just canceled the $90 million sale of a sophisticated military surveillance system to the Turkish Air Force? Oh, yes, and a few days ago in Vienna, a trembling Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, left the hall on his knees when President Abdullah Gül rose to address an international conference, simply because he was fed up with the constant Israel-bashing by Turkish leaders.

Obviously, the realities seen from outside Ankara are quite different from those described by Mr. Erdoğan and Mr. Davutoğlu. While very strong on rhetoric and verbal provocation, results on the ground have been anything but impressive, bringing Turkey little honor in much of the international community. The Israeli prime minister has instructed his Cabinet ministers not to respond to any inflammatory statements made by Turkish leaders, and instead keeps saying that Israel respects Turkey as an important country in the Middle East and wishes to have good relations with it. I thought Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should respond strongly to every statement so that he does not leave the Turkish public exposed only to the attacks of some Turkish leaders. Looking at the results thus far, however, I am not sure if Netanyahu’s attitude might not be more suitable to the virtual world which Ankara is trying to create, without much success.
Read the whole thing. Heh.

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