Erdogan-Peres Spat at Davos Israel Realises What It Means by Losing Turkey

Israel seems to have realised what will be the impact of the loss of friendship with non-Arab Turkey. The spat at the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland on January 29 between the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli President, Shimon Peres, over the Gaza attack is a diplomatic blow to the…

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SOROOR AHMED

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Israel seems to have realised what will be the impact of the loss of friendship with non-Arab Turkey. The spat at the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland on January 29 between the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli President, Shimon Peres, over the Gaza attack is a diplomatic blow to the Zionist state. Erdogan termed the Israeli action in Palestine as barbaric and stormed off stage during an angry exchange with Peres and returned home to a heroic welcome by thousands of people at Istanbul airport, who justified his speech. He was, in particular, disturbed by the organisers who stopped him only after 12 minutes of speech, when 25 minutes were allotted to the Israeli leader.

“I know the reason behind raising your voice is because of the guilty psychology,” Erdogan said to Peres. “My voice will not be that loud. You must know that. When it comes to killing – you know killing very well. I know how you hit, kill children on the beaches.”

“From now on, Davos is finished for me,” he said before leaving.

Realising the danger of getting isolated Peres played cool and on the very next day rang up Erdogan in a bid to mend fences with the Turkey, which till 1916 was the master of almost the entire Arab land including the present day Israel and Palestine.

A day after the heated exchange, Peres disclosed to the international Press that he and Erdogan did not take spat personally. He said he had an amicable telephonic conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “I called him up and said, yes, it’s nothing against you, nothing against Turkey. We consider you as a friend.”

Though nothing had been heard from Erdogan, the Israeli leader claimed that the Turkish PM reciprocated. “I didn’t take it personally. I didn’t go for a personal fight. I answered unfounded accusations. It was my duty. And they didn’t change my mind,” Peres said.

Sunni Turkey and Shia Iran were the two non-Arab big powers of the region which till a few decades ago were very close military and economic partners of the Zionist state. Turkey recently mediated indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria.

However, while Iran turned anti-Israel and anti-America after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the public opinion in Turkey started becoming anti-Zionist after the emergence of Islamists in that country sometimes back. The people were furious over the 22-day non-stop bombardment on the helpless Palestinians. The loss of Turkey as a friend may cost Israel dearly. Surprisingly, the non-Arab Muslims are getting anti-Israel when the front-ranking Arab states are found wanting in even speaking out against Israelis loudly.

The Israel-Turkey ties have a chequered history. Israel would not have come into existence had the Arabs not betrayed the Ottoman Turks in 1916-17, that is, at the high time of the World War-I.  They literally welcomed the Christianised British-French armies in the Holy Land for which the Muslims fought at least seven bloody crusades.

That was the time when, notwithstanding fighting at various fronts, the morale of the Turk army was relatively high. They had single-handedly beaten back the combined armies of Great Britain, New Zealnand, Australia and Canada at Gallipoli, a port city of Turkey. The armies were led by Admiral Winston Churchill, who later during World War-II became the PM of Britain. The Turks inflicted 1.25 lakh casualties between April and December 1915 on the Allied armies foiling their attempts to enter the Turkish mainland. The defeat was humiliating for the world power Great Britain, which pumped lakhs of soldiers from the British India to fight the war.

As the main purpose of the World War-I was to dismember the huge Ottoman Empire, which notwithstanding late 19th century reverses, was still a great power. Seeing that the Turks were impregnable the British drew the strategy of whipping up the Arab revolt. The stupid Arabs were carried away by the western propaganda that Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless and greet him) was an Arab, the Qur’an was revealed in Arabic and so on. They were provoked to revolt against the non-Arab – though Muslim – Turks.

The Arabs revolted against the Turkish base in Medina, which was then directly linked by railway line to Ankara. The Turkish army was taken aback with the similar Arab betrayal in Palestine. And by 1917 the fate of the Ottomans was sealed.

Some of the Arab leaders like Sheriff of Makkah, the grandfather of the present Jordanian King Abdullah, were rewarded. A few years later Turkey went into turmoil and Mustafa Kamal Pasha took power and abolished Khilafat – or whatever it may be. He made Turkey a secular state and de-Islamicised the society, especially the army. The cheated Turks distanced themselves from the Arabs and befriended Israel when it came into existence in 1948.

Turkey always had some Jewish population. During the 19th century Theodore Herzl, the ideological founder of the concept of Zionism, even visited Turkey and requested the then Ottoman Emperor to give some land for the Jewish homeland. The Ottoman Emperor flatly refused. Even the Jew officials, who were highly placed in the Turkish empire – Daud Effendi was one among them – advised Herzl, against dreaming any Jewish homeland.

However, after three decades of occupation of Palestine, Syria and Lebanon after the World War-I, the British and French finally withdrew in 1940s, but not before creating a new Zionist state called Israel on May 14, 1948. In the 30 years of their occupation they brought Jews from all over the world, especially Germany where they were persecuted.

Today, if the Turkish or even for that matter the Iranian government has turned hostile to the Zionist state it is not because out of love for the Arab leadership. They have been doing so for the larger sake of Islam and Bait al-Maqdis, the third holiest shrine of Islam.

The Israelis know the importance of its friendship with Turkey, though it is waning. Turkey is essential, both for Israel and the United States, for their future plan for Iraq and Iran. Therefore, in spite of the verbal duel to be followed by the media blitz against Turkey the besieged Israeli president deemed it fit to win over Erdogan. But the damage has been done.