Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Erdogan and Nasrallah…And Pulling the Rug? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A while ago my father asked me about the role of Iran and Turkey in the region, and the Iranian nuclear file, and I began to explain this in detail, however my father interrupted me saying “the issue is simpler than this, my son!” I asked him “how?” He answered “for years the game has been the same game, however the ability of the two players is in decline.”

I remembered these words whilst I was reading a statement issued by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, in which he called for the formation of a “Freedom Flotilla II” in order to break the Gaza blockade, as well as for [the people of Lebanon] to “embrace and support” the new Turkish position towards Israel via “more Lebanese participation in Freedom Flotilla II.” Nasrallah also said that “Just as Israel takes into account the red flag of Turkey, so it takes into account the yellow flag” that belongs to Hezbollah. The Hezbollah leader justified a second Freedom flotilla, saying “those who take part in the Freedom Flotilla II should know that they belong to a resistance that doesn’t leave anyone in Israeli jails.” What does all of this mean?

The issue is clear, and this is that Nasrallah feels that Turkey’s new position [towards Israel] has pulled the rug from underneath him, and from under Iran of course, and as a result of this he wants to get involved and raise the stakes, and this is in order to pull the rug from under Turkey. However the fact of the matter is that we are afraid that this rug will tear in half from all of this pushing and pulling.

Nasrallah went out calling for people to “embrace and support the Turkish position” on the grounds that “Israel has begun to lose Turkey and this is a very significant change in the region.” Nasrallah also celebrated the Turkish leadership’s threat to cut off ties with Israel, considering this to be “tantamount to an earthquake at the strategic level in Israel” adding that “Turkey is a strong country with a strong leadership that knows how to use its power.” In fact, Nasrallah went further than this when commenting on the Turkish position [towards Israel] saying “some people are talking about subservient and weak diplomacy [towards Israel]…which only results in disgrace and loss” however “diplomacy based upon force and arms is capable of accomplishing a lot.”

However what Hassan Nasrallah, and many Arabs who are waving the Turkish flag, are not paying attention to is that following the Freedom Flotilla incident Turkey has issued numerous and contradictory statements, some escalating the situation, while others calming tensions. The Turkish Deputy Prime Minister [Bulent Arinc] said that military and economic agreements between Ankara and Tel Aviv are currently under discussion, however the Turkish Minister of Defense said that his country would not be scrapping any military agreements with the Israelis, particularly as one of the most prominent military contracts [between Israel and Turkey] is for military equipment that the Turkish army is using to bombard Kurdish sites.

As for cutting off ties with Israel, the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister said Ankara “will reduce relations in these fields to a minimum level…but as a state we cannot completely ignore a state whose existence we recognize.” And so the question remains, where is this strategic earthquake or the diplomacy based upon force and arms that Nasrallah is talking about?

Therefore it is true that the game is the same game, but the ability of the players is in decline.