Jordan’s king said in comments published Monday that the U.S. administration seems to be focusing more of its attention on Iran and less on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying time was running out to make peace.
In an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica, King Abdullah II said the region’s hopes for peace were huge at the start of the Obama administration, but now sees the “goal getting farther away.”
“I’ve heard people in Washington talking about Iran, again Iran, always Iran,” Abdullah was quoted as saying. “But I insist on, and keep insisting on the Palestinian question: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most serious threat to the stability of the region and the Mediterranean.” [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — Having just won the Nobel Peace Prize for advancing global diplomacy, President Obama should reflect some more on how engagement really works. The United States will talk to its adversaries, Obama boldly declared before getting elected. So far so good.
But engagement is sure to lead to a dead end unless it functions effectively as a two-way street. Washington has shown its readiness to talk, but is it ready to listen? Engagement can be as boneheaded as non-engagement if it doesn’t involve listening.
Abdullah, Erdogan and others are telling the US that this administration’s approach to the Middle East is failing. Is the administration listening?
Peace cannot be established in the Middle East when the suffering of the Palestinians continues and the Gaza Strip remains a wreck, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday.
Speaking at the Istanbul Forum organized by Stratim, Seta and the German Marshall Fund, Erdoğan said the Palestinian question is at the center of all problems in the Middle East. The prime minister recalled that Turkey vocalized its disapproval of the previous year’s bombing of the Gaza Strip, adding: “We criticized steps that were serving no purpose, but which increased suffering and sabotaged the peace process. We will continue to criticize it today, too. We will criticize anything similar taking place in other areas.” [continued…]
Turkey will continue to criticize its ally Israel with “courage” if it engages in “mistakes”, Turkish President Abdullah Gül said Sunday, continuing the verbal sparring between the two countries over the situation in Gaza.
Turkey is one of the “rare” countries to have good relations with both Arab countries and Israel, Gul said during an interview with public teleivision TRT.
“But this does not mean that Turkey will not raise its voice against errors if they are made. We should not think that Turkey will keep silent,” he said. [continued…]
…in Israel’s eyes, Turkey is seen as two states – one in the form of the military, twin sister of Israel, the other political, leaning toward Islam and making friends with Syria and Iran. Thus, insolent Israel decided in a typical manner not to take Turkey’s politicians seriously and to adopt the Turkish army. Israel was also certain all these years that Turkey, backward and poor, needed its sole friend in the Middle East because it was not accepted in the region due to its Ottoman history and close ties with Israel and the United States, and therefore could not do without Israel.
So in Israel, people have been quick to conclude that “something went wrong” in Turkey. Suddenly the government rules the army instead of the army, Israel’s loyal friend, telling the government what to do. Israelis did not think for a minute that the Turkish army might also have had enough.
Turkey has changed; inwardly, for the most part. In a long and difficult process it has become a more democratic country. The army is still dominant, but less public in its role in the civilian domain. Turkey has overcome most of its economic problems and has been transformed into a regional economic power. It is a real strategic asset for the United States, increasing its importance after the Iraq war. It has also developed a different regional strategy.
Whoever reads what Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says recognizes that Turkey aspires to become an influential player not only in the Middle East but also in the Caucasus and Asia. It is involved in the fighting in Afghanistan, is forming an economic alliance with Iraq, plans to invest billions of dollars in Egypt, and its annual trade with Iran stands at $9 billion, with Syria at $1.5 billion.
And here is the paradox. This is the only Muslim country that is not harshly criticized, whether by Iran or any Arab state, for having such close ties with Israel. As such, it could have served as an excellent mediator between Israel and the Arab countries had Israel not considered it an obvious satellite state. [continued…]