CIA director visits Turkey: Israel, Iraq, Iran, Syria, US foreign policy and Erdogan
CIA director visits Turkey: Israel, Iraq, Iran, Syria, US foreign policy and Erdogan
Jibril Khoury and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
David Petraeus visited Turkey alongside the senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman whereby many important issues related to the geopolitics of America will have been discussed. Petraeus is the current director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and with the rocky ties of Israel and Turkey worrying Washington then this was part of his remit. However, issues related to Syria, Iran, Iraq, terrorism and a possible conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, would also have been on the agenda given the current volatility throughout the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucasus region.
The cornerstone of US foreign policy in the Middle East is the troika of Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. These nations have geopolitical significances well beyond their respective borders and many areas overlap. Turkey and the NATO angle is of great importance to Washington because of the role of this nation in the Balkans, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caucasus, energy pipelines and maintaining a firm eye on the Russian Federation. Likewise, Saudi Arabia is of strategic significance because of the richness of energy, the Sunni Islamic angle, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and the religious ideological clout of this nation in spreading Islamic conservative indoctrination.
Israel is much more complex because the special relationship appears to be based on the powerful Jewish lobby within the United States and the Judaic-Christian foundations of America whereby religion is still powerful within the body politic. Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were powerful nations for the United States which feared pan-Arabism and the power of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Therefore, nations like America and the United Kingdom supported conservative Islamic nations in the Arabic speaking world against countries which had more secular and pan-Arab ideas.
Recent events in North Africa and the Middle East have ushered in new forces which have swept aside the rule of Gaddafi in Libya, Mubarak in Egypt and likewise in nations like Tunisia and Yemen. The Syrian government is currently facing the brunt of Western political intrigues; conservative Islamic nations which desire a Sunni Islamic state to replace secularism; political opportunism on behalf of Turkey and other important factors. This reality means that international terrorism is being unleashed against Syria alongside an economic blockade, media war, supporting the proxy Free Syrian Army (FSA), spreading the Salafi indoctrination, supporting sectarianism and enticing sedition.
In short, while the Mubarak government in Egypt soon collapsed because he lacked a real powerbase when challenged; the opposite is happening in Syria. Therefore, brutal forces from outside of Syria are spreading carnage and mayhem in order to overthrow a government which obviously is supported by vast numbers in Syria. If the government of Syria lacked support in major cities like Damascus and Aleppo then clearly the writing would have been on the wall a long time ago. This reality means that outside nations throughout Sunni Muslim dominated nations in the Middle East and North Africa – alongside the usual culprits in America, France and the United Kingdom – are collectively supporting the FSA proxy, sectarianism and international terrorism.
However, despite this, it would appear that the Petraeus visit to Turkey was firstly focused on restoring strong Israel and Turkey ties which have suffered recently. This is showing the world that America is extremely worried about maintaining the backbone of its foreign policy throughout the region by maintaining the Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey troika.
It is clear that Turkey isn’t happy about the Obama administration when it comes to not supporting a no-fly-zone and FSA havens within Syria in order to defeat the Syrian government. Likewise, Israel believes that the Obama administration is hindering the threats by Tel Aviv against the government of Iran over the nuclear issue. After all, the government based in Tehran knows that the current Obama administration is against an Israeli attack against “alleged nuclear facilities” which are in the pipeline according to Tel Aviv. Given the mass complexity of the region then America is treading more carefully during election year, rather than the same nation behaved in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq and Libya. Also, the ongoing problems in Afghanistan and Iraq, alongside the knock on effect of northern Mali after intervening in Libya, means that a vast area encompassing North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus and southeast Asia, are awash with major problems.
It appears that the director of the CIA is on a mission to open strong channels between Israel and Turkey by focusing on the Mavi Marmara incident and putting pressure on Israel to apologize. Yet in 2011 the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was whipping up anti-Israeli passions and playing the “Israel card.” Erdogan stated that Israel was “perpetrating inhuman actions which would bring it to self-destruction.” Therefore, tensions between Israel and Turkey are much deeper than the Mavi Marmara incident and “painting over the cracks” will not bring about genuine mutual trust. Similarly, Israel desires to focus on energy related issues with Cyprus which also received a strong rebuke from Turkey.
The situation in Syria also shows that Iraq is refusing to be bullied by Ankara and Washington because this nation is also at loggerheads with Turkey. In a past article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “…since December 2011 relations with Iraq have continued to deteriorate because just like in Syria, the current leader of Turkey is interfering in the internal affairs of Baghdad and Damascus. This dispute erupted when Nouri Al-Maliki, the leader of Iraq, ordered the arrest of Tareq al-Hashemi who was the Vice President of Iraq. The warrant was issued because it is alleged that Tareq al-Hashemi was involved with death squads. However, Erdogan refuses to agree with the wishes of the government of Iraq and instead many verbal comments have been made in Turkey against Iraq over this issue.”
In the same article it was also stated that “Turning back to Iraq, Nouri Al-Maliki stated that Turkey is a “hostile nation” which is bent on spreading sectarianism. The leader of Syria would also agree and so would all minorities including the Alawites and Christians. Therefore, tit-for-tat recriminations have been on the increase between Iraq and Turkey but this fallout began because of Erdogan. Once more, you see the complete hypocrisy of the current leader of Turkey. After all, on the one hand he supports the military of Turkey entering northern Iraq from time to time to crush Kurdish PKK bases. However, when Iraq demands that Tareq al-Hashemi should be sent back to Iraq from his hideout in Istanbul, then clearly he ignores the leader of this country and then levels accusations against Nouri Al-Maliki.”
Iran also is continuing to build strong bridges with Iraq and many allegations are being leveled against the government in Baghdad for allowing Tehran to send military arms and other forms of assistance to Syria. At the same time Iraq is disillusioned by American energy companies bypassing the central government and dealing with Kurdish leaders in the north of Iraq. Iraq also fully understands the brutality of sectarianism and terrorism whereby the majority of international Islamists were Saudi nationals. The Shia dominated government in Iraq now looks over the border in Syria and notices the same ratlines linking Saudi Arabia and Qatar with international terrorism and sectarianism. Even today Iraq is blighted by international terrorism and Salafi indoctrination which thrives on spreading sectarianism and challenging the central state.
Overall, it is clear that the Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey troika isn’t working smoothly together. Likewise, the influence of Iran is viewed differently between all the above nations. Saudi Arabia and Israel will have much more in common towards the government in Tehran. Meanwhile political tensions and sectarianism continues to be felt strongly in Bahrain and gradually more information is reaching the outside world about similar problems spreading in Shia parts of Saudi Arabia. Yemen also continues to witness terrorist attacks, outside meddling and you have a sectarian dimension because Sunni Islamists and the government of Saudi Arabia fear the Shia angle in parts of this country.
At the same time the nation of Syria continues to bravely fight against outside meddling, international terrorism and nations which are spreading sectarianism. Washington appears confused because the domino scenario in Syria isn’t going according to plan despite all the vile deeds by outside nations like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France and the United Kingdom. The Erdogan government is itching to dismantle the power of the current Syrian government but without America giving Turkey the “green light” then Turkey is being seen to be “a paper tiger.” Without the support of America and NATO, then Erdogan appears to be at a loss and the Kurdish PKK is highlighting the bankruptcy of the current government of Turkey.
Sinan Ulgen, former diplomat of Turkey, stated about Erdogan that “It is his posturing that has led to crises with our neighbors. If he hadn’t approached matters in a polarizing, black-and-white fashion, we wouldn’t have lost the ability to manage these relationships.”
“Instead of being the last person to intervene, very often he is the first to react. What he says then becomes policy, and limits Turkey’s room for maneuver; it corners us and policy becomes ossified.”
Turkey and Israel relations are worrying elites within Washington but it is difficult to believe that the two current political leaders of Turkey and Israel can find common ground given their recent history. At the same Iraq is also disillusioned with America and Turkey – and clearly political elites in this nation are alarmed by the policies being enacted against Syria. It is therefore abundantly clear that neither the governments of Damascus and Tehran are isolated throughout the region. Likewise, the troika of Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey is clearly not working smoothly.
The people paying the terrible price of outside meddling and political intrigues are the people of Syria whereby sectarianism, international terrorism and economic destruction continues because of the brutal polices of outside nations. Internationally, it is now clear that sectarianism and terrorism are policies which are openly being supported and encouraged by political elites in Washington, Riyadh, London, Ankara, Paris and Doha.
Every day people can read about terrorist attacks and sectarian killings in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and now Syria. Alongside this you have mass instability in Libya and northern Mali. At the same time Egypt remains volatile and Salafists desire to challenge the secular threshold in Tunisia while Bahrain is mainly ignored because it doesn’t suit the political agenda of Riyadh, Washington and London. The daily deaths and terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and now Syria have a familiar pattern. This applies to the brutal meddling of America and Saudi Arabia alongside the wagging tail of the United Kingdom. However, the results of all this meddling is chaos, failed states, terrorism, sectarianism, religious persecution, deteriorating rights of women, poverty and other unsavory facts. Despite all this, the concern in Washington is to maintain the troika of Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East irrespective of the body counts, carnage and resulting terrorism. In this sense, the visit by Petraeus was “a ghost visit” whereby the brutal reality of failed policies is not on the agenda. Instead, the troika must be protected while Damascus, Aleppo, Baghdad and other parts of the world burn because of the forces unleashed by self-interested parties in destabilizing a vast region.