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Strange Bedfellows
Grand Bargain Afoot Between Turkey, Israel, and Gulf Arabs?

Relations between Turkey and Israel took a turn for the worse in 2010, when an IDF raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara left nine dead. The ship was trying to get past Israeli’s blockade of Gaza. But things may now be warming a bit between the two countries as Jerusalem contemplates a ceasefire with Hamas, a move which was reportedly in the works as of last Friday. The Times of Israel:

“The negotiations surrounding Marmara are proceeding gradually and are interlaced with Hamas’s negotiations on a ceasefire,” Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglo, told Hamas daily al-Resalah, which called the Gaza blockade “a Turkish matter.” […]

In the extensive al-Resalah interview, held on the heels of a visit by Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal to Ankara last week, Aktay said Turkey is discussing with the government of Greek Cyprus the establishment of a waystation sea port, meant to deliver goods to the Gaza Strip under international supervision. He predicted that an agreement would be reached early next year.[…]

He noted that Turkey has committed itself to building Gaza’s seaport and airport once Israel agrees to their construction.

Something’s afoot. Negotiations for a truce between Israel and Hamas appear to be gaining momentum, and now we have the prospect that the truce could lead to improved Israel-Turkish relations. The big losers here would be Iran and its Assad clients. With Saudis also warming to Hamas, the elements of a regional anti-Iran coalition are coming into focus.

This would be very tough to pull off—it would not be just herding cats, but herding cats and dogs together. How, for instance, would the putative grand coalition manage cooperation between the Egyptian and Turkish governments, who loathe each other? Much less, how would one square years of virulent anti-Israel propaganda among the populations of Turkey and the Arab nations with the sharp pivot to Israel. It’s a sign of how worried the region is that something so-far fetched is being considered.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Hang together or hang separately?

  • wigwag

    “This would be very tough to pull off—it would not be just herding cats, but herding cats and dogs together. How, for instance, would the putative grand coalition manage cooperation between the Egyptian and Turkish governments, who loathe each other?” (Via Meadia)

    Surely Via Meadia must realize that Muslims in general and Turks in particular consider dogs to be vermin. It’s as doubtful that the Turks will commence hearding dogs as it is that Turkey’s Government will start allying with Jews (whom they also consider to be vermin).

  • rheddles

    Wow! Sunnis and Jews uniting against Iran. Whodathunkit?

  • FriendlyGoat

    Players in the region are beginning to notice that there are many things far worse than Israel. About damn time.

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    • InklingBooks

      Yes, Obama-Hillary-Kerry have made such a hash of the Middle East, that Israel and the more sensible (typically Sunni) countries in the region are finding a common cause in fighting for stability—even Hamas. Who would have thought that?

      • FriendlyGoat

        Obama-Hillary-Kerry did not make Islam false, nor they did not make radical Islam even more false—AND—difficult to refute from Islamic scripture since all of Islam is false. Those who once thought they must hate Israel more than anything have suddenly found that they have absolute crazies in their own closets who make Israel look quite sensible and reliable by comparison.

  • Episteme

    When the Iran Deal was announced, my first thought was “the only good that may of this is in the relationship of Israel and the Sunnis.” It’s fortuitous timing in a way that you have King Abdullah in Jordan, King Salman in Saudi Arabia, and President al-Sisi in Egypt – all former defense heads who have the cover of former official relationships with the Israelis. Meanwhile, Hamas has lost their Muslim Brotherhood allies in Egypt and had more of a falling out with Fatah, so Turkey remains their last main ally. Given the geopolitics going on in Syria and Iraq and involving ISIS, coupled with the premise of an Iran about to receive new finances and recognition, it makes perfect sense for Turkey to deal with an Israeli-Sunni grouping on trying to make some sense of the Middle East, and convincing Hamas to play along is likely part of that (with Israel having good relationships with the elements of the Kurds, there might be some other talks at that end as well?). Between the current status of events in Syria and the countdown to Iran’s probable growth, the timetable seems to be working in favor of the various nations burying hatchets at least temporarily.

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