April 7, 2013


Why Israel Needs Turkey (and Turkey Needs Israel) (Mike Giglio Apr 7, 2013, Daily Beast)

Relations between the two countries, once strong allies, have been in tatters since May 2010, when Israeli troops raided a flotilla of ships carrying aid from Turkey to Gaza. The raid killed nine Turkish citizens and prompted the Turkish government to expel its Israeli ambassador and recall its own from Israel. The countries' two powerful militaries, once close partners, began to regard each other as hostile forces, and lucrative trade dried up. Even the number of Israeli tourists to Turkey, who once flocked there, dwindled amid fears that the country was no longer safe for travel.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, failed to ease the tensions, increasing them instead with a bitter war of words. As recently as late February, on the eve of Kerry's last Turkey visit, Erdogan made international headlines when he referred to Zionism as "a crime against humanity."

The two leaders "are both stubborn in their own ways," says Yossi Mekelberg, a Middle East scholar at Chatham House in London. "Instead of dealing with things quietly and behind the scenes, these are politicians who like to hear their own voices and make great statements. And that's escalated the situation over the last few years."

Yet Mekelberg says there are pressing issues that seem to have convinced the two sides to drop their guard--namely, the crisis in Syria, and the fact that the continued spat has hurt each country's regional concerns. "It's important for them to work with one another, as opposed to against one another," Mekelberg says.

The final push for reconciliation came from America.
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Posted by at April 7, 2013 8:34 AM

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