Fixing The Western Alliance - Israel's Apology



Benjamin Netanyahu's telephoned apology to Recep Erdogan of Turkey, in respect of the deaths of nine Turkish citizens on the Marmara in 2010, provided a dramatic ending to Barack Obama's visit to Israel.

Erdogan has declared this a victory for Turkey's "principled stand" over the past three years.

Netanyahu is linking this apparent Israeli back-down to events in Syria.

Commentators are referring to Obama pressuring Netanyahu - pointing out that Obama personally spoke first on the phone with Erdogan, and then closed the Netanyahu/Erdogan conversation after the apology was delivered and accepted.

In 2009 and 2010,  Erdogan set his nation on a collision course against Israel,with a series of attacks, including the 2009 Davos diatribe against Shimon Peres, Erdogan's vitriolic & hostile rhetoric against Israel - climaxing during the Gaza War in 2010, and saber rattling with threats to set Turkey's navy on Israel's gas exploration rigs around Cyprus.

A lot has changed regionally since then and I suppose that's why Netanyahu agreed to apologise (beyond the previous statements of "regret"), and why Erdogan accepted (short of his demand that Israel remove the blockade on Gaza).

Turkey's attempts to become a regional power have floundered; and Turkey's budding relationships in 2009 with Iran and Syria, have gone very sour. Even Turkey's attempts to woo the Arab Spring resulted in fewer friends for Turkey, not more.

But the most powerful logic to the kiss-and-make-up between Turkey and Israel is the need for the USA to have a united alliance in the middle east.

With Iran and Syria top of the US foreign policy worry-list, the USA needs a concerted and reliable front of  allies.

Having Turkey at Israel's throat, US interests - and of course, also Israel and Turkey's interests - were not being served.

Obama's successful effort to bridge the gap, getting both sides to swallow some pride (that seems to be the extent of the obstacle), can have substantial dividends in the USA actively and practically confronting the evil regimes of Iran and Syria.

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