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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
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Turkey Becomes Entangled

The Iranian nuclear issue and the chain of disasters that the people of the Middle East have brought upon themselves, called the "Arab Spring," have placed Turkey in a rather bleak situation.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Photo Credit: swiss-image.ch/E.T. Studhalter

Mursi said that he has achieved seventy percent of his goals. Egypt requested from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) a loan of almost 5 billion dollars in order to help strengthen the economy, and according to officials, the IMF demands Mursi to reorganize the system of subsidies as one of the conditions for the loan. The implication of this demand is higher prices, which may create tensions between the government and the people. Mursi prefers to receive the loan without exacting from the people a high price for basic food items. He blames Mubarak’s regime for corruption and stealing billions that belong to the people, but there is a limit as to how much Mursi will be able to blame Mubarak, because he was elected in order to cope with problems, not to whine about them.

For Mursi, Turkey is a model of success: an Islamic government, traditional society, developed economy, large and mighty military, strong international standing, friendly relations with both East and West. Between Mursi and Erdoğan there are differences of opinion regarding Syria, because Mursi claims all the time that foreign countries should not become involved with Syria, while Erdoğan calls for international involvement. Nevertheless, regarding what is happening in Syria, they see eye to eye and view with great distress and pain the horrors that are occurring there, recorded on video for all the world to see.

They are both Sunni Muslims, leaders of Sunni nations, and fear the role that Shi’ite Iran is playing in Syria particularly and in the Middle East in general. They are worried by the Iranian nuclear project, Iranian agitation, and the Iranian ability to undermine regimes from within and take over a country as happened, for example, in Lebanon and in Iraq.

Both of them control international waterways, the Suez Canal in Egypt and the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles in Turkey, and they both can cause disturbances in the marine traffic of the Shi’ite coalition and its supporters, Iran and Russia, on their way to the Mediterranean Sea, to support the Syrian regime. This apparently is the reason for the fact that the Turkish-Egyptian exercise was naval, and not land-based.

It is not clear if the strengthening connection between Egypt and Turkey will change the balance of power in the region, however it definitely must be taken into account when the subject is – for example – the naval blockade that Israel imposed on the Gaza Strip. What would happen if and when Mursi and Erdoğan decide to cash in on the sympathy they would earn (at the expense of Israel) by sending a shipment of “humanitarian support” to Gaza in the ships of the two navies? What would Israel do then? Would NATO do? And the United States?

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

Visit Dr. Mordechai Kedar’s blog, Middle East and Terrorism.

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.

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