September 2, 2005


Pakistan and Israel deal Iran a blow (Safa Haeri , 9/03/05, Asia Times)

The meeting between Silvan Shalom of Israel and Khurseed Mahmoud Kasuri of Pakistan, described by many observers as historic, was the fruit of secret efforts by the pro-Islamic Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to help diffuse Middle East tensions.

The three countries involved in the meeting are Washington's close strategic allies, while Turkey has deep military and security cooperation with Israel.

"It is no coincidence that this meeting took place here in Turkey, this great Muslim democracy, and Israel's long-standing friend," Shalom observed, adding, "Israel's relations with Turkey are proof that Israel can enjoy good and mutually beneficial relations with our Muslim neighbors."

"The meeting between Pakistan and Israel is a great blow to the policies of the Islamic republic based on an unabated antagonism with Israel and the 'Palestiniation' of its diplomacy which, in the past two decades, were the cause of many crises in Iran's foreign relations and increases in tensions with the United States, resulting in huge damage to our national interests," commented Iran Emrooz, a Persian-language Internet news website based in Germany.

So far, there has been no comment from Tehran, but a source close to the new government of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said, "They are shocked to the point of being choked off," referring to the Iranian leaders. [...]

The sole Muslim regime to have openly made the destruction of the Jewish state a pillar principle of its foreign policy, Iran is now more isolated than ever before in the region, in the Muslim community and in the world, as Israel has diplomatic relations with most Muslim nations in Central Asia. It is also recognized at different levels by most of the Persian Gulf sheikdoms and has a presence in Afghanistan and also in Iraq, thanks to the traditional ties it enjoys with the Kurds.

The Sunni will always hate Iran, but the Shi'a have so much in common with Jews their enmity makes no long term sense. Good rallyoing point for a nascent revolutionary regime, bad geopolitics for a stable republic.

Pakistan Reaches Out To Israel at Meeting: Envoys' First Talks Follow Gaza Pullout (Kamran Khan, September 2, 2005, The Washington Post)

A senior Foreign Ministry official said Pakistan had informed Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, of Musharraf's decision to open a dialogue with Israel and that Abbas, in particular, was "very supportive of this idea." [...]

Musharraf is a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, and his overture to Israel is in keeping with his pro-Western foreign policy. Moreover, many Pakistanis, including some in the upper ranks of the army, privately admire Israel both for its military prowess and for its success in forging a modern state based on religious identity, an example they would like to emulate.

"It is wrong to assume that General Musharraf has taken a huge risk," said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst. "This is a calculated move because a majority of Pakistanis do not support an extremist religious view of Pakistan's relations with Israel."

Musharraf's aide described Thursday's meeting as part of a broader initiative. The meeting could soon be followed by an official visit to Gaza by a Pakistani delegation, officials said.

"Pakistan believes that by engaging Israel diplomatically, it can help resolve the Middle East crisis," Kasuri said in a telephone interview from Istanbul.

Israel and Pakistan make 'a huge breakthrough' (Steven Erlanger and Salman Masood, SEPTEMBER 2, 2005, The New York Times)
The foreign ministers of Israel and Pakistan on Thursday met publicly for the first time, a diplomatic breakthrough brokered by Turkey that appeared to be a first payoff for the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Gaza Strip.

A jubilant Silvan Shalom, the Israeli foreign minister, called the meeting at an Istanbul hotel historic and "a huge breakthrough."

"This is the time for all Muslim and Arab countries to reconsider their relations with Israel," he said. "We think it will be a very positive signal to Israeli and Palestinian public opinion that there are some fruits from this withdrawal from Gaza." [...]

The administration of George W. Bush, which is Israel's closest friend and has strongly supported the Gaza withdrawal as an important step in the peace process, may have encouraged Islamabad to step forward, Israeli officials suggested.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 2, 2005 8:38 AM

And Pakistan has no desire to see Iran destabilize Afgahnistan, which it sees as its sphere of influence. And Pakistan has no desire to see India and Israel become overly chummy.
It is in Pakistan's national interest to behave in this fashion.

Posted by: Mikey at September 2, 2005 9:25 AM

Too late--India and Israel are already in bed.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2005 10:07 AM

Of course they are, OJ. I read and know that. But still, if Pakistan makes nice-nice to Israel, they might just be in a position to state their case to an audience with some sympathy.

See what I said about "overly chummy"?

Posted by: Mikey at September 2, 2005 12:03 PM

The Bush administration encouraged them?

Bbbbbbbbbut, I though W was on vacation for the last month, golfing, lolling in the hammock, devising torture devices for NYT columnists and the like.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 2, 2005 8:38 PM