Budget deadline looms for Netanyahu
Two recent decisions by Turkish prime minister Erdoğan make it look as though he is losing his grip.
With all the disputes and controversies swirling around the Geneva agreement between the G5+1 countries and Iran, it's easy to lose sight of other significant events taking place in the region, such as two very strange decisions made in recent days by the Erdoğan government in Turkey.
In the first place, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's decision to close the preparatory schools. A very large portion of these schools is operated by members of the Gulen community, followers of the Turkish Sunni sect leader Fethullah Gulen, who lives in exile in the United States. The Gulenists were initially strong supporters of Erdogan, but recently have loosened their ties, as he has taken steps they don't like. This measure, however, goes to the heart of the movement, since it is in the prep schools that the Gulenists fashion the future leaders they diligently insert into the government, the armed forces and the private sector.
As such, closing the schools is an open declaration of war by Erdoğan on the Gulenists, at a time when he is already confronting a large and powerful informal opposition alliance, including the secular urban middle class, the trade unions and the alevis (a large, ancient Sunni sect). His efforts to reach an agreement with the Kurds through negotiations with their imprisoned leader, have been stalled, giving rise to the possibility of adding the millions of Kurds in eastern Anatolia to the opposition alliance.
Which brings us to strange decision number two. The Turkish government has signed an agreement with the regional government in Iraqi Kurdistan to import oil from Kurdistan by pipeline. This has understandably infuriated the central government in Baghdad, since Kurdistan has no constitutional right or standing in international law to sign agreements with any foreign country. The motivation of the Kurds is obvious--if the deal stands, it will represent (1) implicit recognition of at least economic sovereignty and (2) a source of income from an export that will not pass through any other part of Iraq.
But what do the Turks get out of it? Turkey has no problem getting all the oil it needs from many different sources. Making agreements with Iraqi Kurdistan in the face of the fully predictable opposition of the Iraqi central government is at the very least an unfriendly act and is being taken as such by Baghdad. Finally, to empower Iraqi Kurdistan in this way may well encourage the other large Kurdish communities to demand ever-greater autonomy or even independence. Certainly this is true of the Syrian Kurds, who are already in full control of their region, having defeated the Islamists in open battle, but one would think that Turkey would be particularly concerned about the effect of such an agreement on its own Kurds.
In summary, Erdoğan, who operated for years very adroitly in the murky waters of Turkish politics and society, even defanging the fearsome Turkish armed forces, seems not only to have lost his touch, but to have become positively suicidal in political terms.
For Israel, the implications are obvious. Maintaining friendly relations with Turkey was long a cornerstone of Israeli foreign policy in the Near East. If Erdoğan's AKP government falls, either through elections or by some sort of Egyptian-style popular coup, it is very likely that the new government would restore friendly relations, because it would make great economic sense, and because Erdoğan's dreams of a neo-Ottoman sphere of influence have collapsed.
Should this take place, the chaos which has followed the "Arab Spring" could end up with Israel having friendly relations with almost all of its neighbors, however unlikely that would have seemed a short time ago.
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft at The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC, and a researcher at the Center for National Security Studies, University of Haifa.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 8, 2013
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013
You comment was recieved and soon will be published.
Thank you for posting your comment, which will be reviewed for publication.
Load more comments
The prime minister must make four key choices to stand a chance of passing the 2015 budget on time.
Lapid and Flug agree on dialogue but not policies
Nevertheless, the Bank of Israel and Finance Ministry are angling for compromise that will include a concession on the VAT exemption.
Cabinet approves 2% across-the-board budget cut
Some ministers objected to cuts in welfare and education but Netanyahu insisted that "defense comes first."
Former BoI Gov opposes budget cuts, 0% VAT
David Klein: The government should set priorities. This isn't a real policy.
No elections please - poll
They may grouch at the result of Operation Protective Edge, but Israeli voters see no reason for an early election.
Treasury chief sees no need for tax hikes
Yael Andorn says the cost of Operation Protective Edge can be absorbed within the fiscal framework.
Netanyahu urged to mediate between Lapid and Flug
The Prime Minister's advisors insist he must address the deepening rift between the Finance Minister and Bank of Israel Governor.
Israel, Germany increase cooperation on tax evasion
The war on unreported capital is part of a global trend being led by the US.
Karnit Flug lends support to raising deficit
But the Bank of Israel is still insisting on a tax hike.
Contractors head: 0% VAT - It's now or never
Nissim Bublil: The prime minister told the cabinet to take care of the housing crisis, but they failed.
Open-ended cease-fire begins
Shortly before the truce began at 7 pm, two Israelis were killed by a mortar shell in the Eshkol region.
Lapid, Flug spar on tax hikes
Minister of Finance: Higher taxes will ruin the chances for growth.
Netanyahu's approval rating sinks - survey
Support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has fallen sharply over the past four days.
Cease-fire talks said to be making progress
Israeli sources say a response is awaited from Khaled Mashal. A salvo of rockets was fired at Israel this morning.
Lapid promises Gaza border settlements NIS 50m aid
The government is shorlty due to present a comprehensive aid plan for the region.
Egypt promoting one-month cease-fire
An announcement is expected this evening, if Hamas agrees.
Heavy rocket, mortar fire continues
There has been heavy rocket and mortar fire at southern Israeli settlements today, and false alarms in the center.
Lightning raids likely next IDF tactic in Gaza
Targeted killings do not appear to have affected Hamas's operational capability.
State to assist evacuation from border settlements
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon promised assistance after days of constant mortar fire from Gaza.
"Jews and Hezbollah's time will come - soon"
"Globes" talked online with a US-born IS fighter, who explained how to sign up.
Gaza needs a Marshall Plan
An estimated $6 billion is needed to restore normal life in the Gaza Strip.
UK preoccupied with Palestinian underdog
Dror Feuer is depressed by the one-sided view of the conflict that he finds in London.
Gaza's cruel war of tunnels
"Every tunnel is a message to the world - the destruction in Gaza is not for nothing."
"Starve Hamas of money"
Israel must use the economic weapon against Hamas, argues Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.
Fighting according to the rules
Three experts discuss whether Israel's operation in Gaza is within the international laws of warfare.