May 1, 2005


Turkey's Leader Visits Israel to Improve Ties (VOA News, 01 May 2005)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrived in Israel Sunday for a visit aimed at bolstering Turkey's relations with the Jewish state and giving Ankara a role in Middle East peace efforts.

Mr. Erdogan is to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Moshe Katsav in Jerusalem during his two-day visit, and he also will sign a research and development agreement. The Turkish leader is expected to travel to the West Bank for talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, as well.

Before leaving Turkey, Mr. Erdogan renewed an offer for his country to join Middle East peace mediation efforts. He says Turkey is ready to help, if asked.

Fortunately the Turks have a longer strategic view and understand the Axis of Good better than those petulant hawks who think they should have ignored their own national security concerns during the Iraq War.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 1, 2005 7:30 AM

They were wrong and it cost lives and treasure. We would be fools to ever trust them again without verification.

Posted by: Petulant Hawk at May 1, 2005 11:54 AM

They were right, for them.

Posted by: oj at May 1, 2005 12:01 PM

Turkey could have participated and got the Kurdish state most amenable to its needs, just as the current version of Armenia is no threat to Turkish interests. As the banking and educational center of the region, Turkey would naturally dominate any independent Kurdistan with the Kurdish middle classes of Turkey playing a prominent ombudsman role.

Instead, the Turks decided to piss off the Americans and the Israelis, to ingratiate themselves with the Euros and the Arabs, both of whom will hate them no matter what they do. The policy is doomed to failure, and once again the elected leadership of Turkey seizes an opportunity to fail to seize an opportunity.

Posted by: bart at May 1, 2005 4:14 PM

The Turks for some reason have their heart set on joining the EU and need French and German support. Maybe they'll be a better ally after that delusion passes. Anyway, for us it wasn't that big a deal, so why hold a grudge.

Posted by: pj at May 1, 2005 4:18 PM

Of course Kurdistan is a threat to Turkey's integrity--it will include portions of Southern Turkey eventually. They knew they could snub us and get away with it because of their importance to us. Worked.

Posted by: oj at May 1, 2005 5:13 PM

The Turks, who are in a constant battle with the Greek and Armenian lobbies here, lost street cred they can never get back. Their biggest allies were among the strongest backers of the war, and their betrayal will not go unnoticed or unpunished. Had they merely held out for the sun, the moon and the stars before caving claiming that they got screwed after Gulf War I, people would have been OK with that. But now, they've cast their lot in with the worst of the worst and will pay a penalty. There are lots of folks around DC who believed in a US-Turkey-Israel alliance against terror. Now that role will probably be played by Iraq. The American military presence in Turkey, a major boost to the local economy, will likely be eliminated, and Turkish officials shouldn't hold their breath when the next World Bank loan applications get sent in.

Southern Turkey is not going to secede and there are more Kurds in and around Istanbul today than in Southern Turkey. It is a very integrated minority population and disengaging them from Turkey would be effectively impossible.

Posted by: bart at May 1, 2005 5:37 PM

We need them more than they need us.

Posted by: oj at May 1, 2005 6:54 PM

Turkey is bankrupt, and we're the only real source of funds. Europe won't ever open its doors to them, while it would be a simple matter for them to dollarize and have a Free Trade Agreement with us.

The importance of Turkey in the Cold War was its location on Russia's Southern Front. Since we are not going to be in a land war against Russia for at least a generation, that importance no longer exists.

To the extent that Turkey had importance after the Cold War, it was as a counterweight to Iran and Sunni extremism, especially in the Turkic-speaking former SSRs. Turkey's weak economy and its really dopey decision not to back us in the Gulf War II have made it necessary to seek other alternatives, like a more direct connection between the US and Uzbekistan for example. Should Turkey decide to pursue an Islamist path, a likely scenario given their leadership's complete inability to read tea leaves since the days of Ataturk, we would have to abandon them anyway.

Posted by: bart at May 2, 2005 8:29 AM

No, we won't. We'll always be able to use the fact that they're Turks.

Posted by: oj at May 2, 2005 9:01 AM

If Iran gets rid of the mullahs, even that won't matter any more. In the three sided war among Arabs, Turks and Iranians in Central Asia and the Northern Middle East, we'll be on the side of the one with the most money and the greatest upward potential. The Turks will be trapped in their sclerosis and the Arabs will continue to be what they are.

Posted by: bart at May 2, 2005 11:41 AM
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