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Sunday, May 13, 2012

State Department unwilling to pressure Turkey on Israel

In testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip H. Gordon tried to minimize Turkey's veto of Israeli participation in NATO activities, while avoiding putting pressure on Turkey to drop its outrageous demands (Hat Tip: Joshua I) (Frankly, the title of the article at the link is wishful thinking).
When asked a question by Utah Senator Mike Lee, concerning whether there would be any softening of Turkey’s objection to Israel’s participation in the summit within 10 days, Gordon replied that there was a misconception about this issue. “NATO had not envisaged inviting Israel to the Chicago summit. Israel is an important partner of NATO, certainly an important ally of the United States. It is a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, one of NATO’s manifold partnership arrangements. But the Chicago summit was never going to have a meeting of every single one of those partnerships, simply as a matter of logistics and time,” said Gordon.

Agreeing with Gordon on the misconception about the issue, a senior Turkish diplomatic source told Today’s Zaman that Turkey didn’t veto Israel’s participation in NATO’s upcoming Chicago summit due to take place from May 20 to 21, an important diplomatic summit to be hosted by US President Barack Obama.

The same diplomatic source emphasized that Israel was not invited to the Chicago summit, but if it had been invited, Turkey would not hesitate to veto its participation in the summit.

Gordon also underlined that there was no particular invitation to Israel for Turkey to block. Meanwhile, some Jewish leaders who spoke to Haaretz did not find this statement credible.

He said that the relationship between Turkey and Israel was fraught, which the US deeply regrets. “One of the most positive aspects of the Middle East was the deep cooperation between the two countries. And we’ve invested a lot of diplomacy in overcoming that, and we regret that partnership activities at NATO with Israel are not proceeding because of Turkish objections,” said Gordon.

The assistant secretary stated that the US would not accept any member country bringing bilateral disputes into the alliance, underlining that the US was very clear about this point.

“If an ally is going to block the partnership with one country, then, the US will not accept that partnership,” said Gordon, stating that the situation had reached that point currently, and the US was not going to allow discrimination against a particular ally.

The countries that are members in the Mediterranean Dialogue, a NATO outreach program with seven non-NATO nations, were Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Mauritania, Tunisia, Jordan and Israel.

Gordon concluded by stating that the US would not allow certain countries to be blocked and others to go ahead with their participation.
In other words, the Obama administration, led by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's BFF isn't going to put any pressure on Turkey, except to say that if Israel is out, so are all the Muslim countries who are not members of NATO. Does NATO really want to be allied with Egypt, Tunisia or Jordan right now anyway? Wouldn't that alliance be up for review anyway in light of the events that have occurred over the last eighteen months?

If the United States wanted to pressure Turkey to change its behavior, it could. But under Obama, the United States only pressures real allies like Israel, like Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and like Honduras. In doing so, the Obama administration projects weakness to the macho Islamic countries like Turkey, Iran and Syria.

Unfortunately, the damage that Obama has done to the United States overseas cannot be reversed overnight. And nothing could make things worse than four more years of it.

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