Avi Shlaim: ‘Israel needs Turkey more than Turkey needs Israel’

Professor Avi Shlaim became one of the best-known names worldwide during the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza, which killed more than 1,300 people — almost half of them civilians.

His popularity skyrocketed after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was interrupted while trying to refer to his now famous article, published in The Guardian on Jan. 7, strongly condemning the Israeli operation.

An Oxford professor, Professor Shlaim is not an ordinary Jewish academic. He is an insider, in a way, as he served as a soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the mid-1960s.

In an exclusive interview with Today’s Zaman, Professor Shlaim strongly argued that Erdoğan was right in his reaction in Davos, roundly lambasting Israeli military actions and the behavior of Israeli President Shimon Peres. Stressing that the perception of Erdoğan’s reaction in Davos was generally favorable in the West, Professor Shlaim said the Turkish head of government is seen as someone who stood up against the Israeli aggression. [continued…]

Be careful what you wish for

There is something blissful about the growing support for Avigdor Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beiteinu. There is something appropriate about it. Something right. Something we deserve. Because we can no longer deny that Lieberman is the State of Israel’s most accurate depiction.

This is exactly what Israel looks like. These are its values, its voice, and its hopes.

A Lieberman state does not deserve to have a well-groomed, polite, coherent and false face. It needs to get the face it deserves. To look just the way it is. Just the way we are. Because evil, just like justice, must be seen, not only be done.

Nonetheless, here is a small note to cool the excitement. Many Lieberman supporters seriously take their leader’s foolish words about “loyalty,” “citizenship,” and “enlistment.” They poke each other slyly and are certain that if only they demand that the Arabs pledge allegiance to the State and join the army, the Arabs will blatantly refuse, thereby enabling us to kick them out of here. [continued…]

Nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan is freed from house arrest

Early yesterday, the Pakistani scientist at the center of one of history’s worst nuclear scandals walked out of his Islamabad villa to declare his vindication after five years of house arrest. “The judgment, by the grace of God, is good,” a smiling Abdul Qadeer Khan told a throng of reporters and TV crews.

Moments earlier, a Pakistani court had ordered the release of the metallurgist who had famously admitted selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Through years of legal limbo, Khan, 72, had never been charged, and now he never will be. “The so-called A.Q. Khan affair is a closed chapter,” a Pakistani government spokesman said.

In Washington, the news sparked criticism but little surprise. It was a jarring denouement to what had been one of the most celebrated successes against nuclear weapons trafficking in decades — a victory that has been increasingly tarnished by government failures in the aftermath of the ring’s breakup. [continued…]

Iran did not lose the provincial elections

It is being alleged by US pundits that the outcome of the provincial elections in Iraq, as far as it is known, indicates a defeat for the religious parties and for Iran.

This allegation is not true. In the Shiite provinces, the coalition of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and the Islamic Mission Party (Da’wa) will continue to rule. Both parties are close to Tehran, and leaders of both spent time in exile in Iran. Da’wa appears to have become more popular than ISCI. But Da’wa was founded in the late 1950s to work for an Islamic republic in Iraq, and current leader Nuri al-Maliki has excellent relations with the Iranian leadership.

Da’wa is more “lay” in the composition of its leadership, which is made up of lawyers, physicians and other white collar types. ISCI has more clerics at the top, though it also comprises technocrats such as VP Adil Abdul Mahdi. But Da’wa will need Iranian economic and development aid just as much as previous governments did. [continued…]

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