The Possibilities, and Limits, of Israeli Reconciliation with Turkey

Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu had planned to meet with his Greek and Cypriot counterparts, and then travel to Ankara for a summit with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but the trip was postponed due to the Israeli prime minister’s recent health problems. Both visits, however, are expected to be rescheduled. Eran Lerman assesses the possibilities of a further thaw in Israel and Turkey’s vexed relations, and how reconciliation with Ankara can be balanced with Jerusalem’s now-solid ties with Athens and Nicosia:

The recurrent hints and pressures Erdogan and his government used to persuade Israel to export the gas from its Mediterranean fields via Turkey (helping it establish itself as an energy hub) are ultimately pointless. Such a project would immediately run into conflict over the use of the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone [in the eastern Mediterranean]. Israel has no wish to become tethered to a mercurial leadership in Turkey which still harbors hostile sentiments and might turn radically against Israel at times of crisis, particularly a confrontation with Hamas. Moreover . . . there are viable alternatives.

What, then, should be on the agenda during Netanyahu’s visit to Ankara if he rejects (no matter how politely) Erdogan’s push for a pipeline to Turkey? There are, as things stand, significant other fields over which the two countries—despite the bitter differences of the recent past—can find common ground. . . . The scope of trade—distinctly skewed in Turkey’s favor—keeps growing, and may do so even more (albeit marginally) if the present Israeli government proceeds with its plans to lower the cost of living by allowing agricultural imports.

At the strategic level, Israel shares with Turkey—as demonstrated in mid-July by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s visit to Baku—a keen interest in Azerbaijan’s ability to defend itself during growing tensions with Tehran. A traditional ally of Turkey (and speaking a Turkic language), Azerbaijan has enjoyed a strong security relationship with Israel over the years and recently opened an embassy after years of hesitation and delay. Turkey may take an ambivalent position toward Iran, but in Syria—as well as over the future of Azerbaijan—Ankara and Tehran are on the opposite sides of the conflict.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Cyprus, Greece, Israel diplomacy, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy