Erdogan’s hopes for a new Mideast have been given a boost by…Israel! But as the dispute deepens, its long-term impact becomes more difficult to calculate.
Insisting on its right to murder opponents in international waters, Israel dismissed Turkish demands for a clear apology. What did Israel care? It was supreme in the region. Then, the Arab spring cracked the foundation of Israel’s strategic plans. Ignoring the shift, Israel killed several Egyptian policemen. What was Israel thinking – that they were just Lebanese? So now Israel finds itself having wrecked ties to Turkey precisely at the moment it has infuriated Egyptians, nicely setting the stage for the Turkish-Egyptian summit, where Erdogan wants to discuss a possible Turkish-Egyptian alliance that could reshape the Mideast.
Cairo surely wants to avoid angering Washington, its U.S. military aid being treasured far more than justice for eight dead Turks. But the protesters are in the streets tearing down the wall Israel put around its Cairo embassy, not attacking the military rulers of Egypt, and the rulers of Egypt would just as surely like to keep it that way. Israel has made Erdogan’s task much easier than it might have been.
And Israel’s response? Just to ensure that Erdogan does not lose momentum in his campaign to unite his country behind him, Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman is planning a revenge campaign of supporting anti-Turkish terrorism! Responding to diplomatic moves by launching a terrorist campaign may be a bit much even for Netanyahu, but Lieberman’s brilliant reposte is now openly known so the point made by Israel’s piracy against the Mavi Marmara has been underlined: cross Israel and you will be attacked.
While Israel’s tactics may at first glance appear curious, they do have at least one logical explanation: provoking international tensions can be relied upon, as always, to freak out Israelis and win votes for the extremist ruling clique, not to mention even more military aid from the obedient U.S. Congress. The hidden agendas, both at the party and individual levels, contributing to the rising state-to-state tensions will make controlling Egyptian-Israeli-Turkish relations increasingly difficult.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to be a fly on the wall when Erdogan sits down with the Egyptian generals!