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Monday, April 22, 2013

The price of appeasement, Part 3

From the Kerry and Hagel trips here this weekend, it appears that the Obama administration is finally beginning to understand that Israel holds the key to helping the United States contain both Iran and Syria. The administration would apparently like to see Turkey get with the program, and play a role alongside Israel.

But after four and a half years in which President Obama declared Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan his 'best friend' in the region, that seems unlikely to happen. Erdogan has gotten too used to getting his way from the United States, and is likely to react like a spoiled child who has his candy taken away if things start to go otherwise.
Repairing ties between Turkey and Israel would allow both countries to work with America to combat threats from Iran and Syria, United States Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday at an Istanbul press conference.

Kerry spoke in advance of Monday’s meeting in Ankara between an Israeli delegation led by National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror and Turkish officials, who hope to find a way to fully restore diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Kerry asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to delay his planned trip to Gaza at the end of May in order not to undermine reconciliation efforts between Turkey and Israel, as well as Washington’s renewed drive to rekindle frozen Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

If allies such as Israel and Turkey put aside differences, they can stand up to mutual threats – one of which is Iran, Kerry told reporters.

“Without any question, this rapprochement puts us in a position to be able to not allow us to be divided on something of as enormous consequence as the potential of a nuclear program in Iran, which still has not been adequately answered,” he said.

Similarly, he said that there are “extremists who have come into Syria, they could threaten Israel, they could threaten Turkey, they could threaten simply the integrity of the state of Syria,” Kerry said.

“We have great mutual interests – Turkey, the United States and Israel – in that security arrangement,” Kerry said.

“So there are huge reasons why it is beneficial for this rapprochement to be completed as soon as possible, because it meets all of our strategic needs and interests,” he said.
Kerry's words seem to be falling on deaf ears.
On Sunday, according to Hurriyet Daily News, Ankara rejected a report in London’s Sunday Times that the Israeli delegation currently in Turkey would ask to use a Turkish airbase to train for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

“We have already said that the normalization of our relations will be step by step. Talking about the prospects of a military cooperation at this stage would be irrelevant. We are not there yet. We haven’t even yet appointed a new ambassador to Israel,” the Turkish official told Hurriyet.

During the press conference, Kerry twice ducked questions about the Sunday Times report and spoke instead of the need for Israel and Turkey to reestablish ties.

To that end, he said, it would be best if Erdogan delayed his Gaza trip, noting that such a visit could also have a negative effort on attempts to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which have been largely frozen since December 2008.
Read the whole thing

It's going to take an awful lot for Turkey to come around - including probably the realization that there will be real consequences to its relations with the United States if it does not reconcile with Israel. But so far, the Obama administration has been unwilling to even intimate that such consequences might exist.

What could go wrong?

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