What was billed as President Obama's great foreign policy triumph on his last Middle East tour involved arm twisting Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu into an 'apology' for the killing of nine IHF 'activists' onboard the Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla of ships backed by Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan and the Islamist government of Turkey that was trying to breach the Israeli blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The men were killed after they ambushed and attacked IDF Naval commandos boarding the ship with knives, iron bars, clubs and firearms, and Erdogan used it as an excuse to break off relations that had been steadily worsening since he and the Islamist AKP took over Turkey.
In exchange for the apology by Netanyahu and an agreement to pay compensation to the families of the dead 'activists', something they had offered to do before, Erdogan agreed to exchange ambassadors again, to restore relations, to end legal action against a whole slew of Israeli military and political figures and to meet with the Israelis for what was billed as 'reconciliation talks' aimed at restoring the former relationship.
The ObamaMedia trumpeted this as the greatest U.S. diplomatic achievement since Nixon went to China.
As I predicted at the time, the celebrations were just a little premature.
Just the week before, Erdogan referred to Zionism as 'a crime against humanity' at a U.N. conference in Vienna, comparing it to Naziism. And that was hardly an isolated instance.
As an Islamist, he's not only an 'anti-Zionist' but an anti-Semite, as evidenced by his continued championship of the genocidal Hamas.
And sure enough, within two days, Turkey walked back every one of its supposed commitments.
First, after bragging in the Arab media about how he'd gotten the Jews to do exactly what he wanted, Erdogan said Netanyahu's apology wasn't good enough. He said there would be no exchange of ambassadors or restoral of relations yet, unless Israel continues to 'move forward in the right way', which means lifting the blockade on Hamas.And the court cases are going to continue. Turkey's Erdogan was quite blunt about that.
The final blow came today, when Turkey announced that the reconciliation talks were being 'postponed' . The Israeli delegation was not going to be received in Turkey right now because - wait for it - Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç explained that he and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had scheduled a trip to the Kyrgyz Republic!
Let's translate this into the Islamist frame of reference. Erdogan already had the Jews coming to him rather than the other way around. And to further rub in the humiliation, he had his number two call to cancel because of a trip to the Kyrgyz Republic, a way of letting the Israelis know their place as supplicants in a not very subtle way. Not only that, but the humiliation also reflects on the U.S., because of President Obama and new Secretary of State John Kerry's role in setting this up:
Ahmet Varol, a journalist present on the Marmara, said the Turkish were demanding Israel provide a time frame for removal of the blockade in Gaza, and that it allow Ankara to examine the process. “Nobody wants compensation, and although the apology has diplomatic meaning, it carries no meaning for the victims.”
During a Sunday press conference with the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, US Secretary of State John Kerry pleaded with the Turkish leaders to fully renew diplomatic relations with Israel. Kerry said that it was important that Israel and Turkey agree to completion of the reconciliation agreement, but emphasized that the US would not impose a deadline on the two countries to return to normalization.
In other words, President Obama's great diplomatic coup amounted to nothing more but a PR stunt to provide President Obama with a win and burnish his image as a foreign policy genius.And to do it, he has the Secretary of the United States literally begging Turkey, a country who has been instrumental in helping Iran evade sanctions over its illegal nuclear program.
It's a futile exercise in any case.Nothing is going to substantially change Israeli-Turkish relations at this point, which deteriorated once the Islamist AKP regime headed by Erdogan took over in 2003, long before the Mavi Mamara incident.The Turks are making it clear they have no intention of abiding by any agreement to normalize relations with Israel, and as they showed Kerry, Netanyahu's apology was just a wedge for them to demand further concessions for the Hamas friends.
In this part of the world, this is the diplomatic equivalent of wearing a 'kick me' sign.