Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
The latest blow-up between Turkey and Israel concerning the Turkish exposure of an Israel espionage ring operating against Iran out of Turkey may well signal the true end of a remarkable relationship between the two countries over the past 50 years. As reported first by David Ignatius in the Washington Post, the Government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan was clearly making a statement when it was reported and then of course denied that Turkey had outed this major spy ring which the Turks had aided and abetted for years. This spy ring apparently benefitted not only the Israelis but the Turks as well as they both sought to maintain a secure position against the erratic regime in Teheran, as well as its other not so hospitable neighbors. Turkey gave Israel the necessary cover and presumably Israel shared much of the intelligence it developed with the Government on Ankara. Now that Endogen appears to be moving more and more into the Islamic world, his exposing of the Israeli operation only adds to the credibility of the commitment to separate itself from Israel and perhaps much of the West as well. (One need only consider the implications of the continuing stories about Turkey’s pursuit of Chinese weapons systems rather than American or even Israel options and alternatives.)
Another dimension of the latest strange geo-political moves in the Middle East was the decision by Saudi Arabia to reject a seat on the U.N. Security Council to which it had become entitled. The fascinating part of this decision—beyond the obvious affront to the international body and the five permanent Council members—was that part of the rationale presented by the Saudis was that the U.N. had failed to adequately comprehend the regional and global threat being posed by a potential nuclear Iran. Regardless of the accuracy or immediacy of the threat, the Saudis are frustrated by the unwillingness of the U.N. to adequately sustain sanctions against Iran so as to insure that a genuine nuclear threat abates.
In both of these situations, Israel is a critical player. Have lost or is rapidly losing its cuddly relationship with Turkey, Israel now seems to have a new found comrade in arms (hardly a friend) in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. While the Saudis have both historical and religious conflicts with the Iranians, nevertheless Israel and the Saudis continue to be on the same page as Israel with respect to a nuclear Iran. It was reported some time ago that the Saudis had cleared over flights by the IAF if it were engaged in a bombing run to Iran. If the Saudis maintain this strong vigorous attack on the weakness of the West’s negotiations with Iran, it is quite conceivable that the Saudis will have even greater influence on U.S. negotiating positions than will the Netanyahu Government.