Op-Ed: Turkey needs an Israeli/Saudi Alliance ASAP
On May 5, 2013, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted angrily to the pro-Assad militia’s massacre of at least 62 Sunni civilians and wounding of as many as 200 in the Syrian coastal towns of Banias and Baida. (May they rest in peace.)
PM Erdogan stated “If God permits, we will see this criminal, this murderer [Assad], receive his judgment in this world, and we will be grateful to [G-d] for it… Hear me, Bashar Assad. You will give an account for this. You will pay a very, very heavy price for [only] showing the courage you cannot show others to the babies in the cradle with soothers in their mouths. G-d willing, the lamentations of these children will fall upon you as blessed revenge. For our Syrian brothers who are asking when G-d’s help will come, I want to say: G-d’s help is near.”
On May 11, 2013, twin car bombs exploded in the Turkish border areas near Syria murdering over 46 Turkish civilians. (May they rest in peace.) The Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler was quoted on public TV TRT as saying the perpetrators “were linked to the Syria regime and intelligence agency.”
Turkish PM Erdogan has a really big problem. Instead of working with both Israel and Saudi Arabia on common ground in Syria, he appears to be destroying the nascent partnership by supporting an Islamic-Muslim Brotherhood Post-Assad Syria. In his stupidity, Erdogan is creating a problem from nothing, and insuring Assad murders another 100,000 Sunnis. To turn things around, Erdogan has got to recognize 3 things.
First, PM Erdogan has to understand that President Obama isn’t going to lift a single finger to do Turkey’s “dirty work,” and take out Assad. Erdogan is under a delusion that Obama will repeat his Libyan decapitation attack, and “no fly” zone, and Erdogan will just ’innocently’ sit there, and pick up the Syrian chips. An Obama Syrian attack will never happen because Obama already promised Iran, in the nuclear talks, that he won’t ever touch Syria. The Erdogan takeaway: Turkey needs Israel and the Gulf countries, and fast!
Second, a post-Assad Syria has to be a win for everybody including the Syrian people, all of Syria’s neighbors, and especially for Israel and Saudi Arabia. Only a Turkish coalition with Israel and Saudi Arabia enabling a moderately secular post-Assad Syria (or a three-canton Syria) will be able to quickly remove Assad without significant direct American military help. The problem has been: Erdogan wants an Islamic Syria, and the Israelis and Saudis want a secular Syria.
What’s Erdogan’s game? It’s simple words: Oil and gas pipelines. Money, money, money. Cash, cash, cash. Turkey is oil/gas resource poor, and oil/gas pipeline rich. And, Turkey wants to keep it that way.
Erdogan knows an Islamic Syria will insure wars in Syria forever against all the ethnic groups. Erdogan wants Syria to be a permanent low-level battlefield because otherwise, a Syrian westward vector hydrocarbon pipeline will be a natural competition against Turkey’s parallel westward vectoring hydrocarbon pipeline just to the north. So, a post-Assad-Syria-at-war represents a ka-ching, ka-ching for Turkey. In practicality, a post-Assad-Syria-at-peace means Turkey’s pipeline will go begging for gas transit fees.
Erdogan has to decide: does he want peace and a pretty valuable Turkish pipeline, or war and a super-valuable Turkish pipeline. He should choose peace because whatever extra added-value Turkey’s pipeline will garner on the front-end with endless post-Assad Syrian fighting, Turkey will lose on the back-end because of all the fighting.
Third, most importantly, Erdogan has got to understand that Turkey needs Israel and Saudi Arabia, not only against Syria, but also against Iran. Erdogan should remind himself of one thing: “If Obama is afraid of his shadow with Assad, Obama will run like the dickens away from Iran.” Therefore, if Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel don’t get their act together, Turkey will have a nuclear Iran on its doorstep by 2014. Does Erdogan see the mostly bankrupt countries of NATO rushing to deploy to fight with Turkey against Syria, does he? No! They’re not there now with Turkey against Syria, and they certainly won’t ever be there with Turkey against a nuclear Iran. Memo to Erdogan: NATO was meant as an anti-Soviet alliance, not an anti-Iranian alliance.
And with an Iranian nuke, all of Saudi Persian Gulf oil is immediately opposite Iran to the south, not near Turkey way to the north. And, a nuclear Iran will be totally cash-strapped because of the sanctions. So, Turkey might find itself all alone with an Iranian nuclear-superpower who has seized all of the Persian Gulf oil for itself. Turkey could never survive such a neighboring threat, let alone survive as a self-imagined regional Neo-Ottoman superpower. Therefore, if a nuclear Iran gains the Trans-Mesopotamian-Iraq-Syria pipeline to the Mediterranean it covets, Erdogan’s hopes for exporting Iranian gas westward will die anyway.
In conclusion, PM Erdogan should forget his delusions about being a modern-day Ottoman pasha, and get back to the reality of stopping a nuclear Iran. Only an alliance between the big 3 - Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel will produce decades of peace and prosperity for the region. Erdogan better understand “G-d’s help is near” with Assad if, and only if, he recognizes everybody has got to work together to rid the Middle East of the current Shiite crazies, and not replace them with newer Sunni crazies.
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