According to Stratfor, Turkey and Israel are close to reach an agreement, in order to normalize their relations. See “In the Middle East, a Long Dormant Alliance Re-Emerges”, March 2016.
I have also read various Turkish articles making the same claim, but these claims are in practice refuted by the Israeli diplomatic moves. All the Israeli diplomatic make clear that the Israelis consider Russia as more important than Turkey for their national security. Remember that at the end of January 2016 the Israeli Minister of Defense accused Turkey of funding ISIS by buying its oil. See the Russian state-owned news agency RT (Russia Today) “Israeli defense minister says ISIS funded with Turkish money”, January 2016.
The Israeli Minister of Defense repeated what Vladimir Putin had said about Turkey a few days earlier. I guess because he wanted to prove to Putin that it is Russia and not Turkey that is Israel’s number one priority. A few days later, while attending the Munich security council, the Israeli defense minister said that the Israeli and Saudi officials secretly meet and shake hands, because they both worry with the rise of Iran. This statement infuriated the chief of the Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki al Faisal al Saud, who replied that shaking Israeli hands never did any good to the Palestinians. See Haaretz “Ya’alon: Israelis Secretly Meeting With Officials From Gulf States”, February 2016.
It is true that the Israelis and the Saudis have a common enemy, i.e. Iran, and they have to cooperate against it, but the Saudis have never recognized Israel, and they are not at all happy for having to cooperate with it. It is impossible that these two rude moves against Turkey and Saudi Arabia were mistakes made by the Israeli Defense Minister. We have to assume that they were very well calculated diplomatic moves, in order for the Israelis to prove to Russia that Russia is for Israel more important than Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Actually there is no question that Russia is more important than Turkey and Saudi Arabia for Israel’s national security. See the following map.
Map 1 Israel
At the above map you can see the threats faced by Israel. At the south there is Hamas in Gaza, supported by Turkey, Iran and Qatar. The naval blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel and Egypt does not allow Turkey and Iran to adequately arm Hamas.
At the north there is the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Shiite organization supported by Iran and Russia. Russia and Iran can very easily arm Hezbollah through Syria.
At the north-east (Golan Heights), there is Iran. But at the Golan Heights Iran is not as well armed as Hezbollah, because the Israelis, with Russia’s tolerance, target in Syria the Iranian arms shipments to the Golan Heights. Actually the Israelis could end up facing ISIS at the Golan Heights, if ISIS prevails. Nobody knows what will happen in the future. What is important for Israel is that at the Golan Heights there is not a fire power similar to the one of Hezbollah at Southern Lebanon. Over the years the Iranians have sent thousands of rockets to South Lebanon and Hezbollah. A war between Israel and Hezbollah would make the wars between Hamas and Israel in Gaza look like kids stuff.
At the east the danger for Israel is coming from Jordan and the West Bank. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have entered Jordan, and ISIS has increased its influence in Jordan and the West Bank, and that gives Turkey leverage over Jordan. The West Bank is controlled by Fatah, the socialist Palestinian organization founded by Yasser Arafat, which is presently led by Mahmud Abbas. It was Saudi Arabia that had influence over Fatah, but recently Iran and ISIS are also increasing their presence in the West Bank. See Jerusalem Post “Iran Infiltrates the West Bank”, February 2016, and Reuters “Iran to pay families of killed Palestinians – ambassador in Beirut”, February 2016, and also Wall Street Journal “Islamic State Lured a Son of Jordan’s Elite”, December 2015.
How will things turn out at the West Bank, Jordan and the Golan Heights remain to be seen, but what is clear for now is that Hezbollah, at Southern Lebanon, is presently the deadliest danger for Israel. That means that indirectly Russia is for Russia the deadliest threat.
Because the problem with Hezbollah becomes much more important for Israel in case the Russians decide to cooperate with Hezbollah and Iran against Israel. The Russians have brought to Syria their most modern aircrafts, radars, and anti-aircraft missiles. Even without Russian involvement, there would be a bloodshed during an Israel-Hezbollah war. But if the Russians actively support Hezbollah during an Israel-Hezbollah war things would be very different for Israel. It is one thing for Hezbollah to fight with Russian arms, and another to have Russia’s active support. It is one thing for Hezbollah to be supported by Iran, and another to be supported by Russia.
Also note that the United States have reduced their presence in the Middle East, and they have improved their relations with Iran. Moreover Barack Obama, the American President, is a politician from the center-left, and also of Muslim origin, and therefore he sees Muslim people in a very positive way. Remember that Barack Obama recently visited a radicalized mosque in the United States. A mosque that in the past has been associated with terrorism. That does not mean that Obama supports terrorism. It simply means that he is of Muslim origin and he sees Muslim people in a more favorite way than American presidents normally do. See Fox News “Baltimore mosque set for Obama visit has controversial ties”, February 2016.
From all the above it is clear that Russia is more important than Turkey for Israel. That’s the reason the Israelis do not hesitate to insult the Turks and the Saudis in order to please the Russians. A few days ago the President of Israel, encouraged by Netanyahu, canceled his visit to Australia, in order to visit Russia instead. See Jerusalem Post “Rivlin cancels Australia trip, to meet Putin in Russia instead”, February 2016.
The Australians were very angry. I do not think that the Israelis insulted the Australians by mistake. Remember that the Australians are big producer of natural gas, and they wanted to play a role in the Israeli natural gas fields. See Times of Israel “Top Australian company buys into Israeli natural gas”, December 2012.
It is also a well-known fact that the Israelis have given the Russians stakes in their gas fields. See Reuters “Why Russia may be a smart business partner for Israel”, February 2016.
Again the Israelis prove to Russia they value more their national security rather than their natural gas, and Russia is very important for the Israeli national security. Since Russia is so important for Israel, why Stratfor, which is a good site, says that the Turks and the Israelis are near an agreement to normalize their relations? I think there are two possibilities. The first one is that the Turks and the Israelis have a common enemy, i.e. Iran, and they want to establish a limited partnership against Iran. The Israelis are already cooperating with the Saudis against Iran, and maybe they could cooperate with Turkey too against Iran. The Israelis are also cooperating against Iran with the Shiite Muslims of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a Turkish ally. See Jerusalem Post “Azerbaijan: Israel’s secret Muslim friend”, February 2015.
However that’s the good scenario for Israel. The bad scenario for Israel would be if Russia and Iran were to reach a complete agreement over their energy policies. Because even though it is clear that Russia is more important than Turkey for Israel’s national security, it is not clear that Israel is more important than Iran for Russia’s economic interests. Actually the contrary is true. If the Iranians promise the Russians they will not send natural gas to Europe, or that at least they will not send it through Turkey if they do send, but rather through Syria, and an Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, which would be constructed by Gazprom, then Iran will be a lot more important than Israel for Russia.
Actually the Iranians could promise the Russians they will only sell natural gas to Asia. An anti-aircraft coverage against the Israelis in Syria and Lebanon could be among the Russian gifts to return Iran the favor. The Russians and the Iranians already announced in February 2016 that they will upgrade their military cooperation, but I do not know what they agreed about Israel. See the French state-owned France 24. See “Russia, Iran ready to ‘reinforce’ military cooperation”, February 2016.
If the Russians and the Iranians agree to cooperate against Israel, the Israelis will have to cooperate with Turkey and Saudi Arabia against Russia and Iran. The problem is that it will be difficult for the Israelis to cooperate with Turkey, because Turkey supports many Sunni Islamist groups i.e. ISIS. In Iraq the Sunni Islamists of ISIS are the ex-people of Saddam Hussein. See “Saddam Hussein : The Father of ISIS in Iraq”?
The people of Saddam Hussein were Israel’s lethal enemies, with many terrorist attacks against Israel. How can the Israelis cooperate with the Turks, when the Turks support all these Jihadist groups that hate Israel so much? Moreover how can the Israelis cooperate with the Turkish Islamists, while the Turkish Islamists are enemies with the Egyptian socialists, and the Egyptian socialists cooperate with Israel against Hamas?
What I am trying to say is that it would be a very bad scenario for the Israelis if the Russians and the Iranians agreed to cooperate against Israel, but it would be even worse if they decided to cooperate against Israel, while at the same time the Israelis and the Turks could not cooperate against Russia, due to their own differences.
According to Stratfor Turkey and Israeli have reached a formula. But what exactly does Stratfor means by that? Does it refer only to a cooperation against Iran, or a cooperation against Russia too? And does this agreement between Turkey and Israel includes Egypt too or not?
The good thing for the Israelis is that the Russians would like to have them as a hidden ace in their sleeve against Iran, in case the Russo-Iranian cooperation turns sour. The Iranians might promise Russian various things, but can the Russians be sure about the Iranians? Not only the Iranians are very rich in oil and gas, but they have also improved their relations with the United States. Are the Russians so sure about the Iranians in order to be willing to help wipe out Israel? I don’t know.
“In the Middle East, a Long Dormant Alliance Re-Emerges”, March 2016
“Israeli defense minister says ISIS funded with Turkish money”, January 2016
“Ya’alon: Israelis Secretly Meeting With Officials From Gulf States”, Feburary 2016
“Islamic State Lured a Son of Jordan’s Elite”, December 2015
“Iran to pay families of killed Palestinians – ambassador in Beirut”, February 2016
“Rivlin cancels Australia trip, to meet Putin in Russia instead”, February 2016
“Top Australian company buys into Israeli natural gas”, December 2012
“Key factor in sharply-improved Putin-Netanyahu strategic ties? The Obama White House”, December 2015
“Azerbaijan: Israel’s secret Muslim friend”, February 2015
“Russia’s new Middle East energy game”
“Why Russia may be a smart business partner for Israel”, February 2016
“Russia, Iran ready to ‘reinforce’ military cooperation”, February 2016
“Iran Infiltrates the West Bank”, February 2016
“Baltimore mosque set for Obama visit has controversial ties”, February 2016
“Saddam Hussein : The Father of ISIS in Iraq”?