Turkish-Israeli Relations Take a Major Step Forward

At the United Nations last month, Benjamin Netanyahu and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in person for the first time—an important sign of the gradual thaw between the two countries that began in 2022. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak examines its significance:

The warm hospitality Turkey’s President Erdoğan showed his Israeli counterpart [Isaac Herzog in March of last year], the growing intelligence cooperation, and the following reciprocal ministerial visits—ranging from the foreign, defense, and economic ministries to the Israeli earthquake rescue and humanitarian mission—have contributed to a fragile normalization between the two countries.

The normalization process of 2022 contrasts with the failed 2016 normalization, particularly at the level of bilateral summits, their frequency, and their public style. Notably, in 2022, we saw the Israeli and Turkish flags waving in the most visible way. Normalization was declared by the former Turkish prime minister Binali Yıldırım and Netanyahu in separate locations via video conferences in Ankara and Rome on June 27, 2016. Erdoğan preferred then not to pose next to an Israeli flag and allowed Yıldırım to take credit as the architect of the normalization.

[T]he Netanyahu-Erdoğan summit should be considered a milestone for bilateral relations if the leaderships of both countries display the political will to deepen the ties.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, 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