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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