Turkey is moving "full speed ahead" in reconciliation with Israel. Notably, that momentum began when its President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, held a summit with Russia's President Vladimir Putin on 9 August.
Last Saturday, 20 August, the Turkish parliament ratified the reconciliation agreement Ankara has already signed with Jerusalem. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced that ambassadors would be exchanged soon.
There is even mention of Erdogan visiting Israel in September.
Both Ankara and Jerusalem have quickly moved pass a sharp exchange of recriminations earlier this week. The spat was about the massive IDF military retaliation against Hamas on Sunday and Monday for a missile fired from the Gaza Strip.
Israel harshly reproved Turkey for its condemnation of the bombing campaign, publicly stating that Ankara was hardly in a position to interfere in another government’s response to terrorism.
After Jerusalem fired off the diplomatic rebuke, Erdogan uncharacteristically held silent and let Israel have the last word.
Erdogan and Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are clearly of one mind that nothing should be allowed to hinder their burying of the hatchet.
Today's Middle East is crazy slalom of events. Every few hours, new conflicts spring up and new deals are forged – only to end in tatters a couple of days later (for example, Tehran’s abrupt reversal of its permission to allow the Russia an air base in Western Iran).
In this kind of environment, bilateral realpolitik is bound to be the order of the day. Yesterday's enemy might be today's friend, and today's friend might become tomorrow's enemy.
Notably, the mercurial Turkish president initiated a series of earthshaking moves in the past two weeks. He...
✡ ...rid the strategic southern Turkish Incirlik base of the US nuclear arsenal, and is keeping the future of US warplanes there for operations in Syria up in the air. At the same time his government is talking about opening the base for the use of Russia's Air Force.
✡ ...joined Russia and Iran to establish a new Middle East alliance.
✡ ...opened a direct line of communication from Ankara to Syria's Bashar Assad. Turkish MIT Secret Service director Hakan Fidan paid a visit to Damascus. Working with Israel therefore did not stop the Turkish leader from going after a deal with the Syrian ruler at the same time.
✡ ...plans a visit to Tehran for a grand friendship photo op with Iranian leaders with the same fanfare as his summit with Vladimir Putin.
✡ ...ended an accord with Russia to prevent the Kurds from gaining independence in Syria. At the same time, and Iraq let Ankara off the leash for an all out offensive against the YPG Syrian Kurdish army in northern Syria.
✡ ...authorized the Turkish army to enter Syria in order to attack ISIS strongholds in the border town of Jarablus. This operation, begun on 24 August, intercepted a planned assault by the Kurds against ISIS in that same location.
✡ ...stepped up Turkey's interference with Egyptian and Saudi policies in the Middle East.
How does the Turkish leader reconcile his contradictory polices?
On the one hand, he initiates open friendship with Israel while, at the same time, forging alliances with its enemies in Tehran, Damascus and Gaza.
How does Israel perceive Ankara’s hostile steps against its friends and allies, the Americans, Egyptians, Saudi and Kurds?
The wily Erdogan appears to believe that he can use friendship with Israel as a fig leaf. Whenever the US or others chastise him for his negative actions, he can point out that even Israel goes along with his policies.
As for Netanyahu, he appears to have taken a leaf out of President Barack Obama’s Middle East book.
In the face of all Erdogan’s provocations and betrayals, Obama goes overboard to hold Washington’s line to Ankara in place and hold Turkey back from irrevocably quitting NATO. To do just that, he even sent Vice President Joe Biden to Ankara Wednesday, 24 August.
As a global power, the US can afford to look the other way when Erdogan goes over the top, even though it is hard to see where he is going.
Israel, however, is not a superpower. Jerusalem cannot afford to let itself be used as Erdogan’s alibi. The risk is damage to its precious ties with Washington combined with impairment of understandings Netanyahu has developed with Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It would be a mistake to try and isolate the relationship with Ankara as a purely bilateral issue without expecting a backlash on Israel’s other ties.
Stay tuned. Everything might change in a couple of hours.
This is an edited version of the original English language article published by DEBKAfile at http://debka.com/article/25627/Turkey-Uses-Bilateral-Ties-with-Israel-as-Alibi-