On Friday, March 22, 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and apologized for the Israeli attack on Gaza's Freedom Flotilla that caused the deaths of nine Turkish citizens. Afterwards, Netanyahu's bureau released a statement. A repentant Netanyahu is such an impossible thought that it is worth reproducing the core of his declaration: "The prime minister made it clear that the tragic results regarding the Mavi Marmara were unintentional and that Israel expresses regret over injuries and loss of life," and "Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized to the Turkish people for any errors that could have led to loss of life and agreed to complete the agreement on compensation." Is Netanyahu journeying on his Road to Damascus? Is his apology sincere?
The idea is so ridiculous that even Israel didn't attempt to claim that Netanyahu had seen the light and humbly apologizes from the bottom of his heart. The idea is so ridiculous that Israel formally disclosed its immediate reason. Netanyahu's statement repeated President Obama's words
said on the same day, before leaving Israel. President Obama revealed that Netanyahu and Erdogan had spoken by telephone; saying in his statement, "The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security." Netanyahu's bureau statement said, "his [Netanyahu's] commitment to working out the disagreements in order to advance peace and regional stability." Netanyahu dropped his old gun-machine and is ready to crash the Road to Damascus with his shiny, new American tank.
On March 25, Colonel Riad al-Asaad, formerly head of the Free Syrian Army (the West-supported forces attacking Syria) lost a leg after a device exploded next to the car he was using. He is a former Syrian Air Force commander, who defected to the opposition in July 2011 and set up the Free Syrian Army a month later in Turkey. He was taken to a hospital in Turkey. The day before, Moaz al-Khatib resigned as head of the opposition National Coalition, the political body behind the Free Syrian Army. These dramatic events exposed one of the reasons for the Americans practically forcing Netanyahu to apologize. The second reason was to create security in the Mediterranean Eastern Basin, so that the USA would be able to profit from the gas there (see U.S. accomplishes takeover of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Fields). Now that Turkey and Israel are friends again, the escalating disputes over the gas will be resolved. America will harvest gas in eternal peace. Eternal? Just a sec, what about Syria?
Syria is neither Libya nor Mali. It is not a desert country that can be conquered by NATO overnight. Western generals wouldn’t be able to claim that they have defended the democratic will of the Syrian people. Two years after the Syrian Civil War started, Assad still runs the country. The rebels made remarkably little territorial gains; those were limited mainly to areas next to the Turkish and Iraqi borders. At the beginning of 2013, several reports on rebel violence flooded the media with pictures that left no room for imagination: they are neither democratic nor Syrian. They are rapidly losing the population's support in the areas that they have conquered, though they are still fighting. The two abovementioned events have weakened them even more. USA and NATO can't trust them anymore to complete their Western masters' machinations. The USA has utterly disappointed Machiavelli.
Israel is re-analyzing its former enterprises with Turkey. In recent years, several issues have changed; the relationship between the two countries is unlikely to return to what it was. The graph to the right, courtesy of The Marker, was prepared with data provided by Israel's Ministry of Tourism. It shows the sharp drop in the number of Israelis visiting Turkey (left graph, in thousands) compared to the increase of the total number of tourists visiting Turkey (right, in millions). Turkey will survive even if the Israeli tourists do not return. This is a realistic scenario, the prices of hotels in Turkey have increased, and the country has become less attractive to Israelis; for example during the weekends of the upcoming Passover holiday, the prices offered reach almost $500 dollars just for the hotel. When Israelis first started travelling to Turkey, similar deals cost five times less. The majority of Israeli worker unions ("workers committees;" modern Hebrew is plagued with Communist terms, see Stalin Jews box), the largest bulk clients of Turkish vacation deals, announced that they wouldn't even consider returning to Turkey. Arkia, an Israeli airline, has announced that it will re-open its charter line to Turkey, meaning that it had obtained a permit from the Shin Beth secret police; yet, it may find it has no clients.
Israeli Turism in Turkey
Despite its drama, the American pressure met little opposition. On February 18, 2013, the Israeli government ended a freeze on advanced electronic warfare systems for the Turkish Air Force and supplied Turkey with military equipment for the first time since the Gaza Freedom Flotilla event. This event is not only a precursor to the apology, but also a reminder that the relations between the Turkish and Israeli armies were strong before the flotilla disaster. Can they return to their former status? Back then, Turkey provided Israel with much needed air space, where the IAF could train, but it has been replaced by Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. Theoretically, Israel would prefer Turkey to the European countries, but there is a tiny problem. Turkey and Iran are now cooperating in intelligence matters; Israel probably wouldn't take the risk of unintentional leaks of military data through this option. Military cooperation between the countries will probably be restricted to the supply of equipment and multi-party exercises with the USA and NATO. There is a Hebrew saying "Kavdehu VeHashdehu" ("Honor him and suspect him"), which reflects the new relation. Turkey won't be as trusted as before. Considering all these factors, what was the rush to normalize the situation? After all, it damages Netanyahu. His main partner, Avigdor Lieberman, has already defined Netanyahu's apology "a serious error." Is Netanyahu a neo-Samson saying "Let me die with the Turks?"
Netanyahu's Road to Damascus
Syria is neither Libya nor Mali. The USA failed to impose an "Arab Spring" on it. This is not surprising; minus American advanced weapons, the IDF is weaker than the Syrian Army. The 1973 War could have ended differently if only a minor change in the Syrian Army moves were implemented. Two years after the attack on Syria started, even planeloads of weapons to the Western-supported mercenaries could not defeat the Assad regime (see Israel Buys Croatian Path to Syrian Rebels. Without a quiet Syria, the USA cannot easily collect gas commissions from the Eastern Mediterranean. Is Netanyahu's apology an indication the "Free Syrian Army" would be scrapped in favor of a Turkish-Israeli tweezers-attack on Syria?