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Turkey, Israel and the US in the Wake of the Gaza Flotilla Crisis

The questions about the direction of Turkish foreign policy have been voiced once more following the flotilla crisis between Turkey and Israel, which coincided with Turkey’s vote in May against a UN Security Council resolution on Iran. Is Turkey turning its back on the West? In the unfolding debate, one can see that such questions are being asked in order to send a tacit message of intimidation to Turkey or to give it a warning, rather than to conduct an honest inquiry into Turkey’s foreign policy direction. To explain the recent changes in Turkish foreign policy, this commentary, instead, proposes to look at the transformations in the US role in the Middle East. It argues that ignoring the fundamental change in the global order while treating Turkey’s every attempt to adapt to the new conditions as a form of “axis shift” are efforts to analyze Turkish foreign policy with parameters of a bygone time.

 

The Gaza Flotilla crisis and the diplomatic entanglement that ensued brought to light the competing visions on how to achieve a stable and peaceful Middle East. This crisis has shown, once again, that Turkey and Israel’s strategic relationship does not necessarily mean that the two countries see eye to eye when it comes to regional security. Furthermore, this incident has put the US in the difficult position of having to make a choice between two of its strongest allies in the Middle East. Turkish-American relations have already been evolving and taking on new dimensions as a result of the new global dynamics in the post-Cold War era. This change, recently characterized by the concept of “model partnership,” has been in the making for some time.

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