Jack Snow interviewed the reptilian Mark Regev on British television and the interchange is something to behold. Snow throws off normal British journalistic decorum and takes out after Regev hammer and tong. Regev doesn’t rise to the bait until the end when Snow reveals the astonishing information that Turkey’s prime minister told his parliament that the next convoy of Gaza aid may have a naval escort.
Regev reacts with stupefaction and smugness: “You mean that Turkish ships are intending to attack Israel??” Which isn’t at all what Snow had said. But this is precisely how the Israelis view any infringement on their hegemony: as a declaration of war.
I’m trying to get a reader from Turkey to confirm that Erdogan made this statement. The only thing I can find in the English language media is this via CNN (India):
Ankara warned that further supply vessels will be sent to Gaza, escorted by the Turkish Navy, a development with unpredictable consequences.
While I’m no expert on Turkish politics, I’ve been listening to and watching Erdogan’s speeches for some time. This is a formidable person both as friend and foe, which is precisely what he warned Israel when he said:
“No one should dare to challenge Turkey or test her patience for that the strength of Turkey’s animosity is as strong as the value of its friendship.”
Bibi Netanyahu is no match for the likes of Erdogan. I think if Turkey does decide to send a military escort for the next convoy then all bets are off as to what the future holds. Certainly, the Gaza siege will soon fold as Israel will be seen as empty suit with no ability to withstand a confrontation with a power its own size (cf. “go pick on someone your own size”).
But I also think this could have further repercussions for the overall Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Until now, the Palestinians have had no serious allies. With Turkey taking a more active role in representing their interests, everything changes. The U.S. must take notice. And Israel, reluctantly, must take notice as well.
I think Turkey has grown sick and tired of Israel running roughshod over the interests of everyone in the region. Somewhat reluctantly I think it’s being drawn into playing the role of regional power to compete with Israel. That is why the agreement the former negotiated with Iran is also so important. Turkey got that nation to do something that the U.S. and all the other nations had been trying for so long, but had failed to do.
Turkey has proven that it can get results. And I think it wants a certain degree of stability in the region for the sake of its own economic and development goals. This is where Israel interferes with its constant wars and instability. I just hope that Barack Obama is smart enough and bold enough to figure out how to collaborate with a newly emboldened Turkey on the project of bringing Israeli-Arab peace and a more stable Middle East.