Ever since the Gaza flotilla incident, in which several Turkish citizens were killed after a boat headed with supplies to the Palestine (with full politically correct details still being ironed out on who attacked whom and all that), was attacked, relations between Turkey and Israel have been horrendous, and deteriorating rapidly. Demonstrating just how seriously Israel is concerned with the Turkey (which also happens to be a NATO member, and in possession of lots of ultramodern things that go boom) relations hit, is today's first ever visit by Netanyahu to Athens, where he is scheduled to meet with Greek counterpart and country's opposition leader, to streamline Israel's relationship with Turkey's traditional antagonist, wisely driven by the principle of "the enemy of my enemy." (More on Netanyahu's historic visit via Haaretz). Yet where it is getting very dicey, is the just released report from the FT, which notes that "President Barack Obama has personally warned Turkey’s prime minister that unless Ankara shifts its position on Israel and Iran it stands little chance of obtaining the US weapons it wants to buy." And more: "One senior administration official said: “The president has said to Erdogan that some of the actions that Turkey has taken have caused questions to be raised on the Hill [Congress] . . . about whether we can have confidence in Turkey as an ally. That means that some of the requests Turkey has made of us, for example in providing some of the weaponry that it would like to fight the PKK, will be harder for us to move through Congress." It is unfortunate that the administration still believes intimidation is the best policy course when it comes to resolving latent (and soon to be bilaterally uranium-enriched) middle-east conflicts. Should this path of "negotiation" be insisted on, Obama may soon alienate a critical NATO-member and the country located at the most strategic location at the Europe-Middle East nexus. And this does not even account for the political unrest that is sure to develop should the country's 72 million disgruntled citizens decide the US (and its Middle East interests) are not their ally.
More from the FT:
Washington was deeply frustrated when Turkey voted against United Nations sanctions on Iran in June.
When the leaders met later that month at the G20 summit in Toronto, Mr Obama told Mr Erdogan that the Turks had failed to act as an ally in the UN vote. He also called on Ankara to cool its rhetoric about an Israeli raid that killed nine Turks on a flotilla bearing aid for Gaza.
While the two men have subsequently sought to co-operate over Iraq’s efforts to patch together a coalition government, the US makes clear its warning still stands.
“They need to show that they take seriously American national security interests,” said the administration official, adding that Washington was looking at Turkish conduct and would then assess if there were “sufficient efforts that we can go forward with their request”.
US law requires the administration to notify Congress 15 days ahead of big arms sales to Nato allies such as Turkey. Although technically such sales can proceed – unless Congress passes legislation to stop them – resistance on Capitol Hill can push administrations to abandon politically unpopular sales.
Turkey has sought drones for several years. But its drive has taken on greater urgency both because of the continuing US withdrawal from Iraq and the tensions with Israel, which has provided Ankara with pilotless Heron aircraft.
Turkish officials characterise the military relationship with the US as very good but declined to comment on specific procurement requests. The administration has not notified Congress of any big arms sale to Turkey to date this year.
All in all, more news that should merely propel stocks to new record highs, now that global thermonuclear warfare and homo sapiens Extinction Level Events are firmly priced in.
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