After decades of maintaining normal relations and extensive commerce, tension between Turkey and Israel has never been worse. Unfortunately, though, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems to be very content with distancing himself from Israel. Although the Turkish flotilla that attempted to break Israel's blockade of Gaza in May 2010, may well have been the impetus of a change between the two countries, it appears that Erdogan is enjoying picking fights.
First and foremost, Turkey initially indicated that it would comply with the ruling of a United Nations commission that was formed to determine what happened during the flotilla clash. The report, released on September 2, noted that Israel was within its legal rights to impose a blockade against Gaza. When Erdogan read the content of the commission report, suddenly Turkey said it did not concur with the findings and continues to demand an apology, even though Israel repeatedly has said it regrets the loss of life when its forces defended themselves.
Not only has Turkey said that it will send more flotillas, but seems to be abandoning its long-term relationship with Israel and cultivating new and problematic alliances with Egypt, not to mention other Middle Eastern nations not known for their commitment to global security.
COMMENT: When Israel's armed forces finally took military action against the Iran-backed Hamas terrorist organization in late 2008, it appeared that no one was more critical of Israel than PM Erdogan. It should also be noted that Erdogan is the first Turkish PM to go out of his way to distance Turkey from the US and the West.
Unfortunately, many political analysts far more astute than I, have determined that Turkey seems to be looking East rather than West. If this is truly the case, Israel and the US will surely unify by necessity and prove to be formidable adversaries. Erdogan may also conclude that close ties with Syria and an increasingly unpredictable Egypt make better friends, thus further escalating tension in the Middle East.
Regrettably, it is a fact that Barack Obama is not one of Israel's best friends at the moment. That being said, though, Obama's poor record of decisions during his presidency and the massive debt and high unemployment he's been responsible for suggest that Obama will assuredly become a one-term president. If that were to be the case, Erdogan could find himself outclassed.
Notwithstanding, and with the passage of time, many of us forget that in 2003, newly-installed PM Erdogan refused to permit US forces to enter Iraq by ground.
In the meantime, Erdogan's recent tour of the Middle East, threats of deploying Turkish ships, provocative speeches, criticism of both Israel and the US and a close alliance with Egypt are hardly helpful in the stabilization of the region.