mercredi 9 juin 2010
On the Background of the Israeli Attack on the Turkish Ship
The Israeli leaders have made a big blunder. Sending special troops to take over the blockade-bustering ship led to the bloody clash, and a major diplomatic disaster for Israel and particularly its present government. It would have been better to send to the ship a police force with real experience of dealing with violent crowd without making use of live ammunition. But I doubt very much that the present pre-cold-war relations between Turkey and Israel are mainly the result of actions taken by the present and previous Israeli governments that certainly irritated Ankara. I am inclined to think that there is more theatre than sound political talk in the angry rhetoric of the PM Erdogan. He wants to gain more votes for his party and more sympathy from the street in the Near East. But most probably the rift between Israel and Turkey would have opened sooner or later. Distancing himself from Israel is just one step in agenda aiming at islamization of Turkey and asserting Turkey's role as a regional superpower. I wouldn't be astonished if the incident weren't even pre-arranged. It helped Erdogan to achieve one of his aims: to neutralize the military who were his main adversaries. After the clash on Mavi Marmara it would be nearly impossible for the Turkish generals to stage a coup or even put much pressure on the ruling Islamists. Erdogan and his entourage have already clashed with the military arresting several generals who are accused of subversion, of preparing a coup against the ruling party. Thus, the fight between the Israeli special troops and the would-to-be martyrs was also a fight between the Turkish military and Islamists. The process of islamization of Turkey goes on for many years already, and has resulted in introducing some changes in the society: more segregation between men and women, more Islamic propaganda, more agitation in favour of Muslim brethren in other countries, and redefining the national interests of Turkey taking less into account those of the US or other Western countries. It has also resulted in creating more tensions between the majority Sunni Muslims and minority Alevis, Christians and secularist intellectuals. One result of this tension is the recent murder of a Catholic bishop in Turkey, an act that has not raised much protest in the West. The incident on the "humanitarian" ship was Erdogan's spectacular PR victory, and certainly helped him to move on with both his Islamic and nationalist agenda. But it put him on a collision course with Iran who is fearing to lose his monopoly as the Big Brother or the oppressed and humiliated Muslims in the region. This is not necessarily good news for Israel: the competition between the two would-to-be Big Brothers certainly means there will be more attacks and provocations against Israel in next months and years, maybe even some small-scale wars between Israelis and Iranian proxies on the other side of the border. But I am more or less sure that neither Turkey or Iran will be careful enough not to burn their own fingers in the flames they are fanning.