Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

What Happens to the Israeli-Turkish Alliance Now?

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

What Happens to the Israeli-Turkish Alliance Now?

Article excerpt

An informal alliance between Turkey and Israel has been a fact of life in the Middle East for several years. Israel has received contracts to maintain or upgrade Turkish military equipment, and there has been talk of building pipelines to bring fresh water from Turkey to Israel.

Given Israel's harsh treatment of the Palestinians, the alliance of the two nations has not been popular with the overwhelmingly Muslim Turkish public. The arrangement was satisfactory, however, to the Turkish generals who run-or ran-Turkey, for the Israeli connection meant that a friendly U.S. would be receptive to Turkish aid requests supported by Israel.

The newly elected Turkish parliament, however, eventually turned down Washington's request to base American military forces in Turkey in order to open a northern front against Iraq. The inducement to allow U.S. forces into the country was immense: $6 billion in American cash and as much as $24 billion in loans. However, polls indicated that 95 percent-or more-of Turks did not support this scenario.

Perhaps the most outlandish example of the Turkish-Israeli (plus U.S.) alliance involves the oil pipeline from Baku, Azerbaijan to Ceyhan, Turkey. Oil companies operating in the Caspian area were opposed to this route because it would be shorter and cheaper to pass through Iran. Furthermore, Azerbaijan turned out to have only "disappointing" amounts of oil, while Baku-Ceyhan would require production of up to a million barrels a day to be economically feasible.

President Bill Clinton made a special trip to Istanbul as a witness to sign an earnest document that Baku-Ceyhan would be built. Last year, U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham traveled to Baku, where he helped lay a symbolic first section of the pipeline, and read a laudatory message from President George W. Bush.

Viewed from Washington, the Israeli-Turkish alliance shows every sign of prospering. Douglas Feith, now neo-con Zionist number three at the Pentagon, in the past has received Turkish lobbying money. The Prince of Darkness himself, Richard Perle, long has enjoyed close business relations with Turkey.

To procure Baku-Ceyhan for Turkey, Iran had to be kept out of the picture. With that intent, a Zionist media campaign began claiming that Iran was arming itself in such a manner that Western interests were threatened. …

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