Note: This will be too lengthy a study to develop in one post, so I will break it up a bit into more digestible portions. This is the first in a three part series entitled “Turkish Connection”. When finished with this post be sure to read II and III.
Will Turkey Replace Israel as America’s Chief Ally in the Middle East?
The evidence confirming that possibility is becoming too great to ignore and I intend to expound upon it from a couple of different approaches.
After several months of hinting to Israel that the newest American administration may not be so supportive of the Jewish State, recent weeks have clarified that point with stark contrast to previous administrations going all the way back to Harry Truman and the declaration of Israel’s independence in 1948.
President Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with Joe Biden, James Baker and others in the Cabinet, have made it clear that Israel can no longer depend on the backing of the US Government.
The Left in the United States has long been known for its anti-Israel sentiment, even to the point of parroting “Palestinian” propaganda demonizing the Israeli response to repeated terrorist attacks upon civilians in schools, café’s , buses, and nightclubs not to mention random “potshots” by Palestinian rockets numbering in the thousands before Israel finally responded. The standard sentiment in the media is ‘Jews are fair game but Israel is not allowed to respond’. The Jewish State of Israel has become the “redheaded stepchild” of the West, and world leaders are loathe to utter a sincere sympathetic statement or any such moral support on her behalf.
The “Palestinian problem” is now Israel’s to solve unilaterally. The problem is not Israel’s handling of the situation. Nothing she does will be acceptable. The problem is this. Israel exists.
This sentiment is exhibited by most of Europe, South America, Africa, and all of Islam. Never mind the historical fact that the “Palestinians” were mostly Jordanian or Egyptian citizens prior to the invasion of Israel by five surrounding Arab states the day after she proclaimed independence. The UN Partition Plan would have forged two states; one Jewish, the other Arab. The Jews agreed. The Arabs did not and vowed to “drive the Jews into the Sea.” The only real change is where the lines are, and that only the result of Israel’s own security provisions.
That Partition Plan of 1947 was the result of much discussion, planning and compromise which characterized the expiration of the British Mandate issued by The League of Nations back in 1922 after the breakup of the 600 year old Ottoman Empire at the end of World War One. The Mandate charged Britain with governance of the territories from the Mediterenean Sea to Mesopotamia which included Palestine, Transjordan, and modern Iraq. It also reinforced the Balfour Declaration of 1917 citing Palestine or a portion thereof to become recognized as a future Jewish State. By the end of WW2 the Jews were more than glad to relocate to their ancient homeland of King David where Israel and Judah had prospered two millennia prior. The Jewish Diaspora expired.
The Ottoman Empire had been the seat of the Islamic Caliphate for 400 years. After the Ottoman’s (Sunni Muslim) conquered the Fatimid Dynasty (Shia Muslim) beginning in the 14th century and reaching its own zenith in the 16th century, Sunni Islam became the dominant school of theology, pushing Shiism into small pockets and containing it to Persia (Iran) where it continues to be dominant. The Ottoman Empire, allied with Germany, came to a close after the end of World War 1 when Great Britain was successful in driving the Turks from Palestine, Transjordan, Syria and most of the Arabian Penninsula., with the help of the Arab tribes who were loosely unified by Sir Thomas Edward Lawrence.
With the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Revolution, a new Republic of Turkey was established and under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Caliphate was abolished and a new secularized government began to develop a prosperous economic and political player on the world stage. Turkey managed to remain neutral during most of WW2, finally joining the Allies in 1945. The new Eurasian country became a strategic ally to the United States and Europe during the Cold War and has maintained good relations with the West for the most part since its inception.
Many have extolled the success of Turkey as a model for the Islamic world to emulate, successfully balancing an Islamic culture with a modern secularized government. It has, thus far, been the most Westernized Islamic country in the region.
However, a recent movement is afoot in Turkey to Islamize the government. This is not, for the most part, a radical militant movement such as Al-Qaida or Hamas, but a more subtle movement that is better served by maintaining a peaceful appearance and a smile, extending the hand of friendship and unity while educating the opponent and his children. This movement has a leader who has opposed a secular government in Turkey since the 1960’s and was arrested by the Turkish authorities in ’71 for “clandestine religious activities” after which he was harassed occasionally. He has met with Pope John Paul II, Greek Orthodox and other Christian leaders, as well as Jewish Rabbi’s in an effort to moderate, and “build bridges” between Islam and the West.
Fethullah Gulen, a Sunni Imam, has become a major figure in the United States since his ‘migration’ here in 1998, reportedly to seek treatment for diabetes. According to Rachel Sharon-Krespin writing for Middle East Quarterly, his “absence also enabled Gülen to escape questioning on his indictment in 2000 for allegedly promoting insurrection in Turkey in a series of secretly-recorded sermons.” It is also reported that although he has not lived in Turkey for the past 12 years, he has had tremendous influence there to the point of “Islamizing” the Turkish government, so much so that all government employees are Muslim. So much for secular government in Turkey…More on that…
(Continued on next post)